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Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage 2021
It is with regret that we announce that there will be no Diocesan and Catholic Association Pilgrimage to Lourdes this year. The Pilgrimage, which was scheduled for 21-27 August 2021 has been cancelled in light of the on-going effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we will be announcing a schedule for special virtual events throughout 2021 and the virtual Pilgrimage programme very soon.
We understand how disappointing this decision will be for many of our past pilgrims and those hoping to travel to Lourdes this year.
Over the last number of years, we have offered an ‘online presence’ and ‘Virtual Pilgrimage’ experience whilst in Lourdes, where everyone is able to follow the Pilgrimage daily and experience the Homilies and reflections with those in Lourdes, at home. This year we are busy planning some special moments for 2021 that will enable us to still celebrate the miracle of Lourdes. We look forward to welcoming you all to our ‘virtual Pilgrimage’ once again and to our events programme throughout the year.
More details will be available on the Clifton Diocese website soon!

World day of Prayer
Fr Liam Slattery at St Peter’s in Gloucester will celebrate a Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and also mark World Day of Prayer for the Sick at 7.00pm on *Thursday February 11th*. This Mass will be live streamed on the homepage of the Diocesan website.
The Catholic Association will follow the mass with a Rosary live streamed on their website at 7.45pm. The details of this will be available soon on the Diocesan website

St Josephine Bakhita
O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery
to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ,
grant, we pray, that by her example
we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus Crucified,
remaining steadfast in charity
and prompt to show compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer Marathon
All Christians are invited to participate in an online Prayer Marathon on Monday, 8 February, marking the 7th International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking. The online Prayer Marathon will be live-streamed on YouTube:
Further information is available on the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking website:

Father Albert Ofere is a Nigerian priest serving at English Martyrs Catholic Church in Wembley, north west London. Last year he contracted Covid-19 and was admitted to nearby Northwick Park Hospital - something he describes as truly frightening. Father Ofere has learnt much from his near-death experience, not least that the virus attacks indiscriminately: "I speak from experience. Covid-19 is real and is causing havoc. We are all affected, directly or indirectly, regardless of nationality, race or class." Vaccination is a key part of the pandemic exit strategy. Fr Ofere has received the Covid jab: "Through the ingenuity of science vaccines have been made and I couldn't wait to receive mine... If you have been through what I have been through, you will not hesitate to go for your vaccine."

Synod of Bishops' appointment
Pope Francis Saturday appointed a Spanish priest and a French religious sister as under-secretaries of the Synod of Bishops. 
It is the first time a woman has held a position of this level within the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. CLICK HERE to see the whole article
Photo-Sr. Nathalie Becquart (third from left) poses with Pope Francis and others during the youth synod in 2018

Thank you Deacon Vincent, as ever, for sending us your reflections on this weekend's scriptures:
Reflections for Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
1st Reading from the Book of Job 7: 1-4, 6-7.
The book of Job is a fascinating book, in that it wrestles with that eternal problem of innocent suffering. Whether the authors provide an answer to this terrible constant problem, will be for each reader to decide. Part of the book is very early and the later embellishments possibly as late as the 4th century BC. We can glean how a particular generation of Jewish thinkers read the book. The first part of the book, Job is undaunted in his devotion to God. The second part, we see Job is impatient with conventional answers and becomes almost rebellious against God. It poses the old idea that one must have done something evil to have things go wrong, so Job ought to confess his sins and put things right with God to get his good life back again. His So-called friends urge him to confess, Job refuses and perhaps quite unexpectedly his fortunes are restored again. It is very interesting to come across a person arguing with God and opens to us an avenue to debate with God. He always is available to us, to hear our point of view and correct or direct us in the right direction. It is a book full of wonderful insights into the human person under pressure from affliction. This section Job is contemplating to drudgery of life, especially when in pain. There is no relief to be found, and he is suffering from depression. It is very descriptive of this illness, and very moving. We can equate with Job a lot in this book, it covers the human experience so beautifully and so starkly. It fits very much with our current problems so is of immense assist to us.
Psalm 146: 1-6
It is a beautiful song of praise building on the reading from Job, we see how God binds up the wounds and heals the brokenhearted. It is a song for this period in our journey, where we are much in need of healing. It assures us that we can rely on the Goodness of God.
2nd Reading from St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians 9: 16-19, 22-23.
Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that Christian freedom does not mean we can do what we like; it is constrained by keeping the Law of God, as also consideration for others. This section he is explaining that although he is entitled to material support, he has provided for himself by his trade of tent making. It illustrates his attitude to his call and how he tries constantly to live the Gospel life, that he is preaching. It is a wonderful insight into the person of Paul himself in his strident efforts to keep the Corinthians on the straight and narrow. It still talks to us today.
Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark 1: 29-39.
It shows how Jesus effortlessly heals Peter’s mother in law, and also how indifferent he is to questions of ritual purity, by touching, firstly a woman and also one who is close to death. She is immediately able to serve, which is the great task of Angels, Jesus himself, as also his Disciples. We get an insight into the chaos and constant demands upon Jesus. His impact is immense, and the entire city was drawn to the doorway. Jesus also forbids the demons to speak, he does want them to announce who he is, the people will have to make up their own minds, as indeed it is the same for us, in our journey of discovery. We also find that Jesus needs to pray, but Peter, who is already taking on a significant role amongst the disciples is not too sure of the value of prayer, we shall encounter this dilemma later on in the Gospel. If Jesus felt the need to pray, how much more should we also take up his example and ray constantly for continued strength and courage to live the Gospel life, and give glory to God for is Goodness, and ask him to look after all those in need.
These Gospels are our guide to following Jesus, we should pour over them and constantly embrace them and absorb them into our whole being.
God Bless you all and keep safe.
Deacon Vincent

If you or someone else is experiencing difficult thoughts and feelings, there are people ready to help. Here are a few resources available for young people.

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