Inside the main porch of the church, in windows on either side of the main doors are scenes from the life of our Patron, St. Bartholomew. Above the notice board near the side door is a small round window, bearing the Latin inscription, “In Memoriam” (remembering). This window remembers babies and young children who have died, with those children being represented by a small purple butterfly. Twice a year, at Croydon University Hospital, a special service is held in the chapel there for all those who died so early in their lives.
A stone tablet, engraved with the names of former Parish Priests, is positioned near to the Repository, a room in which we may buy items which can help us to learn more about our Faith. A separate frame contains a record of all former curates or assistant priests. These remind us to pray for the souls of the Priests who have cared for the souls of members of our Parish since 1908 and, indeed, of our Christian duty to pray for the Souls of all who have died. One day, please God, people will pray for our souls, too. We thank God for their lives, given in serving our Parish, and ask Him that they may now be with Him in Heaven, rewarded for their faithful service. Of course we must never forget to pray for Priests living and serving here and around the world. Satan knows full well that he will be defeated through their priestly power and does not, for an instant, cease to try and undermine their Ministry. In the porch there is also a list of all those men who serve us in Southwark Archdiocese, each allotted a day of the week. The notice also reminds us of all those who have died following the completion of their work in the vineyard of vocations.
Our first action, on entering the main body of the church must, surely, be to greet Our Blessed Lord, Whose House we are invited into. Our Children will learn from the adults they see round them. While it is the Parents' privilege and duty to bring up their children in the Faith, we all need to consider just what an effect our own example can have on young (and even on not so young) minds.
Before entering our bench for Mass we (if we are able) genuflect towards the Tabernacle, situated on the Blessed Sacrament Altar where Jesus is waiting for our greeting, wishing to pour His Grace into our Souls, calling us to open our hearts and love Him. Those unable to genuflect may well bow. While these outward gestures are, of course, very important it is His Grace in our Souls, our Love for and Faith in Him which truly pleases God. As well as reminding us of our reason for coming to church, we can also teach others through example. Who knows whether someone, not a Catholic perhaps, seeing our demeanour, will themselves be drawn to know more of the Church to which we accord such love and respect.
We and our Children are fortunate to be highly literate and able to access vast sources of knowledge but, centuries ago, without the ability to read Bibles and Missals (if they actually had one) and before liturgical calendars existed how did people know what was being celebrated / commemorated at Masses during the year? The answer lay in the colour of the Priest's vestments: Green, colour of new life, worn most of the year, recalled the life of Grace making souls 'grow' just as sunlight causes new shoots to appear; White recalled the Grace and Purity of God and the Angels and Saints, Purity to which all are called; Red denoted the Blood shed by Christ and by Martyrs. It also called to mind the Power of the Holy Spirit, the Fire of Pentecost and the Kingship of Christ; Purple, especially during Lent and Advent, pointed to the need for Penance (Father wears a Purple stole when hearing Confessions). Purple can be replaced, (on the 3rd Sunday of Advent and the 4th Sunday of Lent) by Rose, symbolic of future rejoicing; Black, now largely replaced by Purple, stood for mourning and to remind us of the solemn duty to pray for the dead who, unless perfect, will have sinned in this life and are counting on our help to reach Heaven. We are helping them get to Heaven by our Masses, Prayers and Sacrifices. Black was, once, generally worn for Requiem Masses - an exception to this was a Requiem for a baby who had, of course, died before reaching the age of reason and could not have chosen to offend God - for them Father wore White. Through colour everyone, literate or not, could recall Father’s teaching and follow the Liturgical Year.
The Sacred dignity of the Sanctuary, and the Mass offered there, is further emphasised by the garments worn by the Altar Servers, which are either an alb together with a red cord, or a cassock (black most of the year, changing to red for Easter, Pentecost and Christmas) and white cotta (surplice). Most of our Altar Servers are Members of the Guild of St Stephen, and wear a Guild Medal.
From St. Bart's
Thoughts on the traditional teachings, devotions, seasons and matters of the Catholic Church