Thursday, 30 July 2009

Thursday evening

It could only be Thursday evening: the weekly newsletter is printed and ready for our volunteer folders to get to work tomorrow morning. They have a slightly easier task at this time of year, as the number of copies printed is reduced for the summer, such is the effect of the holiday season. If there are slightly fewer blog posts in these days it is a reflection of a general (and most welcome!) slowdown in the pace of Cathedral life, with very few extra events due before September. Things are still happening behind the scenes, of course: for example, last week we posted an update on the work being carried out on the new cloister garden; a further update can be found on the St Thérèse blog, here. Meanwhile, wherever you are over the summer you can keep in touch with the Cathedral via the website. There will be regular posts on all three of our blogs, and you can download the weekly newsletter in pdf format here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Preparing to go public

Behind the scenes much work is going on to prepare for the Cathedral's 150th anniversary exhibition, which takes place 12th September-2st November at Lancaster City Museum. Here are just a few of the items which are being prepared for public display: from a 16th century recusant chalice to a carved piece from the Cathedral's former pulpit, there will be much to see and learn about. The blog will keep you updated as the exhibition draws closer.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

St Thérèse: the Diocesan Novena

This image, from Notre-Dame Cathedral in Saigon, Vietnam, shows St Thérèse as a young girl meeting Pope Leo XIII and asking his permission to enter Carmel. Although she didn't get the answer she wanted there and then, it was only a short time later that permission was given. In life Thérèse showed a detemination and persistence which impressed those she met; nowadays her persistent prayers are asked by people all over the world. In almost every country people ask St Thérèse to intercede for them. Today a nine-week novena begins across the Diocese of Lancaster in preparation for the visit of Thérèse's relics in September; during the weeks ahead we will ask her intercession for a variety of causes linked to her life. This first week of the novena is dedicated as a time of prayer for those who suffer through illness.

The novena has been recommended to each parish in the Diocese. It follows a very simple format so that it can fit easily with the liturgical life of the Church, and includes the daily use of the prayer for the visit to Lancaster. You can download a poster giving basic details here; the full texts are available here. You can also follow the novena on our St Thérèse Blog, which will be updated with the new intention for prayer each Sunday morning during the novena. The blog can be found here.

The Diocesan Website is also giving plenty of attention to the visit as this important Diocesan event draws near. Keep up-to-date with all the news from the Diocese, here.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

St James the Great

For today's feast of St James, Apostle, an image of his martyrdom from the stained glass windows of the Cathedral's Whiteside Chantry.

Friday, 24 July 2009

The Martyrs of Cumbria

This image of Blessed Christopher Robinson, at the Church of Our Lady and St Joseph in Warwick Square, Carlisle, is shown to mark today's feast of the Cumbrian Martyrs. Nine other martyrs are commemorated today; they were all born in Cumbria; Christopher Robinson was born, lived and was executed in Carlisle; the rest, who include St John Boste, were born in the county but died elsewhere. This feast is one of several on the Lancaster Diocesan Calendar, which has come into being within the last few years. The Cathedral's local feast, that of the Lancaster Martyrs, is kept on 7th August and will be marked with Mass (12:15pm), a procession to the execution site (leaves the Cathedral at 3pm), Exposition at 5pm and Sung Vespers and Benediction at 5:30pm. You will be most welcome to come to the Cathedral on the day.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

An end of term message

Today is the final day of the year for staff and children at the Cathedral Primary School. Another busy year has been completed and an excellent set of SATs results prove that all the hard work has paid off. The school has been getting involved with the Cathedral's 150th anniversary celebrations, too: already children have been involved in the drama Peter's Progress and in the Flower Festival. Some children helped with the Dr Dixon festival in May and three classes visited the Anne Frank Exhibition. The tiles pictured here, which line the wall just inside the school entrance, also part of the Cathedral Primary School's celebrations.

Each child had the opportunity to produce a tile, and close up it is fascinating to see the variety of styles and inspirations for the work. Some have used a Gospel scene such as the Crucifixion; others have taken the Cathedral builing or an aspect of parish life as the starting point. One of these tiles, for example, is inspired by the Cathedral's choir and musical life.

It seems as though a number of children took their lead from the Cathedral's 150th anniversary logo, which can be seen in the right-hand column of this blog.

And finally - an impressive reproduction of the Bishop's coat of arms. Our best wishes go to all the children of the school and to their families, and to all the staff, as the summer holidays begin.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

St Thérèse Garden: work begins

Last week work began on the new St Thérèse cloister garden at the Cathedral. The early stages of the work involved clearing some of the earth and gravel which were already there and removing a very persistent weed which has been growing in the area for some time. A large ground sheet has been put over the whole area in an attempt to prevent the weed's return.

Now that this part of the work is complete, the task ahead is to lay new sand, gravel and flags in accordance with the design (see the plans here). After that the plants will be brought in. A couple of pieces of garden furniture have already arrived, as can be seen. It's been decided that Vespers on Sunday 27th September (the day before the visit to Lancaster begins) will end with a procession to the new garden; this is likely to be its first public use.

Meanwhile, the Bishops' Conference have announced that 18th-24th October 2009 will be designated 'Little Way Week', in which each of us is invited to perform a small act of service each day, inspired by the example and teaching of St Thérèse's 'Little Way'. It is the first national initiative aimed at following-up the visit. More can be found on their website (here), and the Thérèse Blog will keep you updated over the coming weeks.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Music for the 150th anniversary

Today a new Mass setting, specially written for the Cathedral's 150th anniversary, will be used at Mass for the first time. The setting is written by the celebrated composer and church musician Malcolm Archer, who is currently Director of Chapel Music at Winchester College. He grew up in the Diocese (near Lytham) and has gone on to work at a number of Anglican cathedrals, including St Paul's in London, where he was Director of Music.

The setting he has written for the Cathedral is intentionally fairly simple, so as to allow the whole congregation (not just a choir) to sing the parts of the Mass. Over the coming months it will be used (at least in part) fairly frequently, so that - hopefully - by the time we reach the feast of the Dedication of the Cathedral (October 4th) everyone will be able to sing with gusto.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Pope in Hospital

As you may have seen in the news, Pope Benedict has had surgery on his wrist following a fall while on holiday yesterday. After the fall the Holy Father apparently said Mass and then had breakfast before going to hospital, where he was found to have a small break in the wrist. Here he is seen thanking medical staff as he returned to his holiday; the cast can be seen on his right arm. It's the first time that the Pope has been in hospital since his election in April 2005.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage

It's that time of the year again: the first pilgrims destined for Lourdes on the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage are en route. A coach for youth travelling overland left Lancaster first thing this morning, but will not arrive in Lourdes until after those travelling by air - two flights go from Manchester tomorrow. A number of Cathedral parishioners (but this year no priests!) will be on the pilgrimage, and it is heartening to know that despite the economic situation a record number of young people are making the journey this year. Please pray for all the pilgrims - and pilgrims, please pray for us!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A visit to Dalton Square

Yesterday evening about 25 parishioners made a trip to Dalton Square for a tour of the former Catholic Chapel there. The visit was part of the Cathedral's 150th anniversary celebrations: it is hoped that during the year many people will come to take a greater interest in the history of Catholicism in Lancaster. The Dalton Square church was opened in 1799, under the charge of Lancaster's priest at that time, Dr John Rigby. Our group of parishioners met outside in the rain before heading indoors.

The tour was conducted by Mr Stephen Gardner, conservation officer for the council, who works in the building, which is now known as Palatine Hall. Here the group take a look at the back of the former presbytery. After the clergy moved out it became a doctor's surgery and was home to the imfamous Dr Ruxton; here he murdered his wife and maid. The crime became so famous that it even has its own Wikipedia page, which can be found here.

After the look at the presbytery it was on to the former church itself, where people commented how it seemed very much larger inside than it appeared from without. Clearly the building would have accommodated a fairly large number of people; later it was used as a cinema.

The ceiling was of particular interest because - although redecorated - the structure remains the same as it was when the building was a church. In March Billington's Blog featured a number of posts about the Dalton Square chapel; if you'd like to read more, click here and scroll down through the entries to see the relevant posts.

The chapel at Dalton Square replaced an earlier makeshift building at St Leonardsgate; it is perhaps fitting therefore that today the old chapel, now used for office space, has windows which look out onto St Leonardsgate and towards the Cathedral (see an image here). Lancaster's Catholic history has left a trail across the city. Our thanks are due to Mr Gardner and to the council authorities for arranging this tour for us.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Curious about the Cathedral?

Revealed today, here is a first glimpse of the publicity for our 150th anniversary exhibition, which takes place at Lancaster City Museum from 12th September (not 21st as previously stated!) to 21st November. Featuring a range of objects and information panels, the exhibition will cover a period of local Catholic history from recusant times to the present day. It promises to be a great event; more details will follow on the blog over the coming weeks. Group visits are welcome; if you'd like to discuss the possibilities, please get in touch.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Monteverdi Vespers

Last night the Cathedral hosted a performance of the celebrated Monteverdi setting of Vespers. The work dates from 1610 and was first published in Venice; since that time it has become well-known and frequently performed around the world.

The performance was given by the Levens Choir, who are based in Kendal; they were accompanied by the Early Baroque Band using instruments typical of the period. Before the performance conductor Ian Jones gave a brief introduction to the large audience.

This setting of Vespers uses the texts of the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is used on feasts of Our Lady throughout the year.

One final concert remains before the summer break: this coming Friday at 7:30pm the Skipton Camerata will play Bach's second and fourth Brandenburg Concerti, as well as works by Bridge, Grieg and Howells (more details here). And, of course, if you would like to come to Vespers being prayed (rather than performed!) it is sung each Sunday afternoon in the Cathedral at 4:40pm.

Friday, 10 July 2009

St Thérèse: beat the crowds

With 80 days to go until the relics of St Thérèse arrive in Lancaster, each day it becomes more obvious that a large number of people will make a visit during this event. Already a large number of parish, deanery and school coaches have been arranged and more enquiries are coming in. To help ensure a smooth event, we are trying to spread the arrival times of different groups. Earlier today we launched a new page on the Cathedral's St Thérèse website, designed to help people see when it is best to come.

The duration of the visit is split into times which are colour-coded: green for the quietest times, red for the busiest and yellow for those inbetween. The information is intended (at least at this stage) mainly for those planning group visits, and we are asking groups which have not yet arranged a time to avoid the Tuesday lunchtime Mass, which is looking very busy. We will update the information further as time goes on and as more groups book in. If you are organising a group, please remember to contact us with your planned arrival time. You can find the new information page here.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Caritas in Veritate

Published yesterday, Pope Benedict's third encyclical letter deals with "integral human development in charity in truth." Under the title Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) the Holy Father tackles some of the social issues facing the world today, including the environment, economic crisis, human rights, migration and the role of technology. In the UK the encyclical was launched by the Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, who described it as "a powerful and thorough application of the vision of Christian faith to the complex problems of human development." The letter can be read online at the Vatican webiste, here; a printed version will be published by the Catholic Truth Society next Monday - click here for more.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Anne Frank: a history for today

The Cathedral is currently playing host to an exhibition entitled "Anne Frank: a history for today." A lot of school groups have signed up to come along; the exhibition is also open to the general public Monday-Friday 4-6pm; Saturday and Sunday 1-4pm. Entry is free.

Yesterday three classes from the Cathedral Primary School came to take a look. In the first part of the exhibition there is a 25-minute video about Anne Frank's life; the children then get a chance to talk about some of the things they have learnt. There are also a number of photographs taken by Anne Frank's father which reveal something of their family's life.
In the second part there are some visual displays which bring to life the diary which Anne Frank wrote. There is plenty to see and the children made the most of it.

In total there are over 30 panels for people to see; many photographs are accompanied by extracts from the diary, so that Anne Frank's story is told in her own words.

Along the corridor which leads to the exhibition the Cathedral has prepared some thought-provoking material. On the walls visitors can see how the freedom of Jews was gradually taken away by the Nazi regime. Meanwhile, on the floor there are words associated with oppression and persecution, placed for people to walk over; above there are words associated with justice and peace, a reminder of qualities for which we must aim. The exhibition remains open until Wednesday 22nd July.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Bishop Campbell: first Pastoral Letter

At his Mass of inauguration on 1st May the Bishop had an opportunity to address nearly all of the priests of the Diocese and representatives from each parish. Such opportunities are not frequent, and bishops more often communicate with the Diocese by means of letters. Over the weekend Bishop Campbell's first Pastoral Letter was read in parishes across the Diocese. He wrote the letter to mark the Year for Priests, which began on the feast of the Sacred Heart. Expressing his own appreciation for the work of priests, he encouraged all the people of the Diocese to pray for priests and to pray for vocations. He also asked families of those considering the priesthood to be generous in their response, saying, "Remember, parents: the Lord is never outdone in generosity." You can find the full letter on the Diocesan Website: click here.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Carlo Curley

Last night saw another major landmark in the organ restoration work as the legendary American organist Carlo Curley gave a recital in the Cathedral. Carlo is well known around the world as a brilliant organist with great ability to engage the audience, and he did not disappoint.

The programme was filled with works by American composers, chosen to mark July 4th, Indepedence Day. Carlo's skill was in greatly in evidence as he gave a dazzling performance. He certainly put the organ through its paces, and at one stage joked that he was trying to "invalidate the warranty".

Between pieces he often took the microphone to speak to the audience from the gallery, introducing some of the works and their composers. He congratulated the organ builders, Henry Willis and Sons, on their work, telling the crowd: "I do not recognise this organ." Carlo had previously played at the Cathedral in July 2005, when the organ was in a terrible state; he was clearly very pleased with the restoration work carried out by Willis.

The programme included a range of styles; pieces included an organ transcript of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, Charles Ives’ Variations on 'America' and Lindblad’s Toccata on an American Theme.

The event could only take place thanks to the heroic efforts of the Willis staff. Jonathan and Fred had worked (almost quite literally) around the clock to ensure that everything was ready, and stayed on hand during the recital just to make sure that the organ performed well. It did. You can find the Willis and Sons website here.

Hopefully Carlo will return before too long to play at the Cathedral again. He is an extraordinary performer; his own website describes him as "The Pavarotti of the Organ". You can visit his site, which also includes details of his forthcoming concerts, here.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Farewell, Fr Lourdu

One year and one day since his arrival in Lancaster, today we bid farewell to Fr Lourdu. His Bishop has asked him to move to the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, to take up pastoral duties there. Last weekend Fr Lourdu had the chance to address some words to parishioners at the end of Mass. He spoke movingly about his time here and sincerely thanked everyone for their support and prayers during his time in Lancaster.

Our best wishes go with Fr Lourdu as he heads across the Atlantic, and we hope to update you on his progress at a later date.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

July Diary

With the summer holidays now fast approaching, the pace of events at the Cathedral slows considerably for July. The biggest event this month is an exhibition about Anne Frank, which begins today and runs until 21st (public opening: Monday-Friday 4-6pm, Saturday-Sunday 1-4pm; free admission); more details and reports will be posted in the coming days. Three concerts will take place: an organ recital by Carlo Curley (this coming Saturday), Monteverdi's Vespers sung by the Levens Choir (11th) and the Skipton Camerata with more of Bach's Brandenburg Concerti (17th). In the liturgical calendar the two major feasts are concerned with the apostles: St Thomas (3rd) and St James (25th).

Over the next month Billington's Blog will feature the installation of Bishop O'Donoghue, the consecration of Bishop Flynn and auxiliary Bishop Pearson, posts on the diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage over the years, the opening of the convent chapel and Mass on a mountainside. You can find Canon Billington's historical blog here.

The visit of St Thérèse draws ever closer - just 89 days to go! - and the Thérèse blog will keep you up-to-date with preparations. Over the next month we hope to bring you some more concrete news about what will be happening on site; you can also find out about events around the Diocese and coaches coming from your area. It looks set to be a huge event, with a large number of coach groups already booked in. The Thérèse blog has recently published the prayer which will be used for the visit to Lancaster; the site can be found here.