On this Feast of St Mark, we asked Canon Michael Johnston to share a message with his parishioners at St Mark's Church in Oxgangs, Edinburgh.
My dear Parishioners of St Mark's, Oxgangs,
On Saturday, 25 April, we celebrate the Feast Day of St Mark, Apostle, Evangelist, Martyr and the patron of our Parish and Primary School. Normally on this day, we gather to celebrate Mass, and more often than not, parish and school together.
But not this year. This year is different: our churches are closed, our usual liturgical and sacramental celebrations are not taking place, or have been celebrated by our priests, alone and in empty churches. Things look bleak, but we soldier on, ever hungering for the Bread of life and yearning for our reunion around the Lord’s table, as well as hoping for a speedy release from our self-isolation.
For this reason, I was invited to send my greetings to you for the Feast in our separation from each other via the Archdiocesan website.
At the end of his First Letter, St Peter says: “Your sister in Babylon (Rome), who is with you among the chosen, sends you greetings; so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ.” As once Peter and his friend and disciple Mark sent their greetings to a sister church, so I am sending you my warmest greetings for the Feast of our patron saint.
I want you to know that I pray for you all at the altar each day during Mass, and will do so even more earnestly when I light the candles that stand at the icon of St Mark in our church on Saturday.
St Mark will be praying for us also, perhaps reminding us of the words of his companion, St Paul, words so familiar to us from our funeral liturgy: “nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.”
As we place our trust in God, who loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, let us face the future with confidence, knowing that one day we shall surely emerge from this crisis and rise again, but hopefully we will have learnt to be more thoughtful of others, more compassionate, more merciful and forgiving, more responsible, not ever taking things for granted, and above all, being closer to God.
I wish you all a very Happy Feast Day. Pray for me and for our first parishioner to die from the Covid-19 virus, that gentle lady, 91 year-old Marion Burns. May she rest in peace. And may God bring us together again soon to sing his praises, for “We are an Easter people and our song is alleluia.” God bless you all.
Canon Michael, your parish priest.