19th July 2020 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I hope that you are all keeping safe and well, as thankfully I am too.

It is encouraging to see that people are coming into church for a time of quiet prayer, and that those who I have spoken to, say how much they appreciate being able to come into church again, and how safe they feel in a prayerful atmosphere. At the end of each week I have to inform the diocese of how many visits have been made during the week, we average around 120, this includes some people who call into church each day.

St. Michael and St. John’s, Clitheroe, continues to open for quiet prayer

Monday – Friday    11am till 12 noon.
Saturday                   11am till 1pm.

Stewards are always around to make sure that procedures for coming into church are carried out, and to help anyone with any enquiries. Again, thank you to all our stewards for all you are doing to ensure that people are safe in church and also for cleaning after the doors are closed. Without your generosity we would not be able to open the doors.

Last weekend I appealed for more volunteer stewards, especially as we look toward being able to celebrate public Mass in a few weeks time.
Thank you to those who have volunteered these past few days, and more help would again be very much appreciated. Please let Janet or Ann Harkin or Fr. Paul know if you are able to help.

We are now able to celebrate a Requiem Mass in church, we will have our first one this coming week for Ruth Humphreys R.I.P. Again we have to follow the instructions we have been given which also states that no more than 30 people can be present at a funeral in church, so it is not open to everyone to be present, but only to those that the family have asked to join with them.

We are also able to celebrate baptisms, but again under certain conditions, and with a limited number of family present.

It is essential that we adhere to all that we are being asked to do, so that as far as we possibly can we can ensure people’s safety.

Next week someone from the diocese will be visiting our other two churches in Sabden and in Dunsop Bridge, a risk assessment will be made and we will then be informed what is possible in those churches.

Most importantly, stay safe at this time! Please remember we are in the “time of restrictions”! Just remember what we have become so conscious of during the past four months—that our Lord is with us wherever we are—at church, at home, at school, at work, and as we hear in our reading today from Romans 8:26-27,
‘The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness’.

Each day I continue to remember you at the altar during Mass, keep me in your prayers.
God bless you and your families. Fr. Paul

LATELY DEAD: We keep in prayer all who have died recently especially:

Ruth Humphreys


The 2020/2021 envelopes are now ready to collect from the presbytery.  They will also be available when masses re-commence.  You may collect your envelopes personally or a friend or relation may collect them on your behalf. Social distancing etc when collecting them will apply of course.

Also, boxes are now available in church for you to place any donations you have been putting aside at home since lockdown began at the end of March. Some parishioners have been posting their offertory through the presbytery door.  If you are one of those who have and who Gift Aid, did you put your number on the front of the plain envelope you used? If not please contact Janet as without it we cannot claim the tax back.
Please make any cheques payable to ‘Our Lady of the Valley’

Separate procedures for the distribution of envelopes are being arranged for Dunsop Bridge and Sabden – hopefully more on this next week


As we are coming out of lockdown, will you go back to your ‘normal’ life or will you embrace a simpler way of life?  Have you looked back at the last few weeks and reflected on what was good and what was not-so-good?

Families who have been forced to flee their homes and have lost everything in places like Syria, South Sudan and DR Congo are particularly vulnerable to the virus.  We have joined forces with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to scale up our response, ensuring that no one is beyond reach of the aid they need to survive.

Please would you donate generously via CAFOD

Website: https://cafod.org.uk/Give/Donate-to-Emergencies/Coronavirus-appeal


 Compassion and forgiveness need humility

Somebody said to me recently that they were sick of hearing this term “the New Normal”; and yet without the “New Normal” that Bishop John has frequently referred to we will not respond to Pope Francis’ call to become a missionary church or to tackle the issue of climate change.   We must become more outward looking with a compassion and forgiveness that needs humility.

The first time I heard Bishop John speak in 2015 he said: “This Pope has grounded me wonderfully”.  In those words he summed up the clarity of Pope Francis’s message on how we are to live our lives.   In 2013 Pope Francis issued his first apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium in which he urged the entire Church “to embark on a new chapter of evangelism”.  According to the exhortation, the Church must understand itself as a “community of missionary disciples”, who are “permanently in a state of mission”.  Evangelii Gaudium has been described as “the manifesto of Francis” and a “Magna Carta for church reform.”  It touches on many of the themes of Francis’ papacy, including obligations Christians have to the poor and the duty to establish and maintain just economic, political, and legal orders.   Different dioceses have responded to Evangelii Gaudium in different ways.  For us in Salford Diocese it is the five year Hope in the Future programme led in our Parish by the Missionary Steering Team.

In 2015, Pope Francis published the encyclical Laudato Si’ concerning care for the planet.  On the face of it these documents tackle two totally different subjects but reading them you realise they are two sides of the same coin and emphasise the interconnectivity of all that Jesus calls us to do.  To really comprehend our obligation to the poor we have to acknowledge and respond to the threat of environmental change, and in responding to climate change we recognise that it is the poor who will suffer most if we fail to act.  But Laudato Si’ goes beyond that and when Pope Francis says: “It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”, he reminds us that our responsibility extends beyond our obligation to care for the whole of humanity – we are the stewards of the whole of creation.  CAFOD embraced Laudato Si’ with its Live Simply Award and we are pursuing action towards our own Parish Live Simply Award via our Laudato Si’ (Live Simply) Group.

The “humble conviction” reminds me of a homily I heard a few years ago in the small and insignificant township of Cheteck in Northern Minnesota.   It gave some very practical guidance on how to practice humility and how humility is the key to the Christian way of life.

We were told that that there were three ingredients to humility:

  • Not thinking first and foremost about ourselves and wanting to be the focus of attention
  • Acknowledging and complimenting others
  • Thinking about others and being aware of their needs

It was a simple enough message but presented in such a way that made it clear that humility shouldn’t just be one of a number of virtues to practice, it is at the core of our faith.  So what specifically did our priest in Chetek have to say about his three ingredients of humility?

Not thinking first and foremost about ourselves
Many people tend to talk rather than listen but humility should temper this inclination.  Our priest didn’t dwell too long on this one but what he said later led me to quiz him more closely over coffee and pancakes.  His thinking was much influenced by Francis de Sales and a particular theme was giving, or being the recipient of, hurt or offence.  I looked up the relevant quotes later.  They are instructive:  “Be very watchful as to what can give offence to others; if you fail in this, try to repair the mischief as quickly as possible.”   Another quote covers the other side of the coin too: “It is a great degree of lowliness of heart…to fear honours and flattery as much as little minds enjoy them, who easily take offence at any affront.”   How often does a lack of humility make us focus on ourselves and our discomfort when someone praises us? It struck me that humility has its greatest test when someone is offended by what we do or say; or when we are offended by them.

Acknowledging and complimenting others
Humility should teach us to acknowledge praise graciously. Just as we should graciously acknowledge a compliment, so should we look outwardly to others rather than to ourselves and recognise and acknowledge them.  But the key to it all is whether we think foremost about ourselves or others.  If the heart is pure, so too will be the acknowledgement and we will learn to tread carefully the fine line between praise and flattery.

Thinking about others and being aware of their needs
This final point extends and embraces the other two.  It is easiest to start with the people we know and like but we should think of all others and not just those closest and those we feel most comfortable with.  We should think of those we don’t know particularly well or don’t particularly like and reflect on whether perhaps a lack of humility has failed us.

So as we continue with the privations of the current pandemic let us reflect on how we can practice humility.  Let us prepare for a New Normal when we finally return to a freedom in which we can either resume our old ways or go forward incorporating a new way of thinking into the practice of our faith.

Anthony Brown

From the Archives

– fast forwarded this week to 1968.

Not sure which priest has written the following.  Any ideas?  Fr Hannan maybe? 


Posted in Clitheroe, Dunsop Bridge, Sabden, Weekly View.