Friday, 29 June 2007

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Today the Cathedral celebrates its patronal feast, that of Saints Peter and Paul. We are blessed with many fine images of St Peter, particularly in the stained glass windows. Above is one such image: St Peter sits enthroned, holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19), with two churches at his feet: to the right, St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican (Peter's resting place, and a reminder of our unity with his sucessor, the Pope); to the left, our own Cathedral church of St Peter.
Along the north side of the Cathedral, stained glass windows tell the story of Peter's life from the time of his calling to his crucufixion. This evening, for the first time, we will use a new devotion based on these windows. The 'Way of St Peter' pauses at each window to reflect on the episodes of his life and relationship with Christ; prayers are also said at each stop. The text of the prayers and meditations are available in a new booklet, the cover of which is pictured above.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day which celebrates God's unconditional love for His people. The devotion dates back to 17th century France, where St Margaret Mary Alacogque had a series of visions of the Lord. Most Catholic churches have a statue of the Sacred Heart, and the Cathedral is fortunate to have this fine statue, recently placed here in place of a plainer, unpainted wooden statue. Throughout the day parishioners and visitors have been lighting candles as a symbol of their devotion to and love of Jesus.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Corpus Christi and the 40 Hours

Today is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (often referred to by its Latin name, Corpus Christi). We celebrate the great gift of the Eucharist - a gift in which Christ is truly present and the benefits of His death and resurrection are made present to us.

For the Cathedral, it also marks the end of the annual 40 hours Solemn Exposition. During this time, the monstrance (from the Latin monstrare, to show) is placed on the altar with the Host (the Body of Christ) inside. Members of the parish take turns to pray before the Lord, so there is forty hours prayer (spread over four days) in His presence. There are some guided hours of prayer, and we celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours and pray the Rosary together. There are also many hours of silent prayer, where each of us can bring our own needs to the Lord, and deepen our awareness of His presence.

The candles and flowers (magnificent, as always) add a certain solemnity to the occasion, reminding us of the importance of the Eucharist.

The feast of Corpus Christi can be celebrated with Eucharistic processions, such as the one which took place at Westminster Cathedral yesterday. Click here to see pictures.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

From St Petersburg to St Peter's Cathedral

A large crowd turned up to see members of the choral group Lyra performing in the Cathedral last night. The group, from St Petersburg, have 25 members in total. Together they must sound magnificent, since the four of them who came for the concert made a wonderful sound. They performed a wide variety of sacred and secular music, mostly unaccompanied. The Cathedral's acoustics are perfect for this type of music, and performers often comment that it is a pleasure to sing here.