Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Bishop Campbell's ordination

It's a year to the day since Bishop Campbell's ordination here at the Cathedral. Now there are less than five weeks to go until he takes over as Sixth Bishop of Lancaster. The pictures help to jog a few memories of the event. If you'd like to see more, visit Billington's Blog here which today carries a post on the event, or take a look back at the extensive coverage that was offered on this website last year: click here and scroll down to see the pictures and reports. Mass will be offered in the Cathedral for the Bishop's intentions later today.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Blessing with Veronica's veil

Our man in Rome has sent us these pictures which were taken at the end of Vespers yesterday at St Peter's in the Vatican. The liturgy is now moving clearly towards a focus on the Passion of the Lord; we are preparing to celebrate the great events of His death and resurrection. The crowds here are gathered below one of the giant balconies close to the altar in St Peter's. They await an event which happens only once a year.

On the fifth Sunday of Lent each year a relic of the Passion - the veil used by Veronica to wipe the face of Christ - is brought out and used to bless the congregation. Veronica does not appear in Scripture but is presented to us in the Tradition of the Church as one who comforted the Lord as He made His final journey. The image of Jesus' face was left upon the veil she used. In his Stations of the Cross, St Alphonsus observes the lesson for us all: "whenever we, out of love, minister to the needy, we receive an increase of grace, and the image and likeness of Christ grows in our souls." Relics are important part of the life of the Church: you can find more by visiting the new Blog set up for the visit of St Thérèse; the blog carries a feature on relics today and can be viewed here.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

St Thérèse: the programme for the visit

This logo is about to become a more familiar sight around the Lancaster Diocese. It will be used for promotional and catechetical materials for the visit of the relics of St Thérèse in September. The first wave of resources will be going out to parishes just before Easter. It's exactly six months until the relics arrive, and there is much work to do in the meantime.

Today a new blog has been launched in preparation for the visit. It will carry news and practical information about the event, alert readers to relevant resources and talks etc around the Diocese, mark anniversaries associated with Thérèse and encourage people to participate. The blog will be updated regularly; you can visit it here or by clicking the Thérèse logo in the right-hand column of this blog.

On the main Cathedral website, the section devoted to the Thérèse visit has now been completely revised and carries much useful information. From today you can find the programme (timetable) for the visit (click here for pdf version and here for standard web page) and a list of events taking place before the visit (click here). If you know of an event that we haven't advertised, or would like to organise a group visit to the relics, please contact us.

Friday, 27 March 2009

The Gift of Confession

While many people see confession as an obligation or a burden, it is in fact a great gift from God. It allows us to leave the past behind, to know God's forgiveness, to look to the future and, over time, to become better people. The number of confessions at the Cathedral (and probably in most parishes) always rises during Lent. In addition to the usual times there will be a parish penitential service on Tuesday 7th April at 7pm (with individual confession and absolution). This evening some of the children of our parish will benefit from this sacrament of reconciliation for the first time. Please remember them in your prayers.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

A job in the Youth Service

Castlerigg Manor on the edge of Keswick, Cumbria, is our diocesan residential centre for young people. Shortly it is to be refurbished and will become the base for a new Director of Youth Services for the Diocese. The post has just been advertised and applications are welcome until 8th April. If you've got the necessary skills and are interested in applying, more information can be found on the Diocesan website: click here.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Bishop Seamus Cunningham

This is Rt Rev. Seamus Cunningham, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle. He was ordained bishop yesterday in the Cathedral Church of St Mary, Newcastle. The Diocese is one of six which share a border with the Lancaster Diocese; the others are Liverpool, Salford, Middlesbrough, Leeds and Galloway.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool was the principal consecrator; the co-consecrators were Bishop Ambrose Griffiths, former Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle (seen above, nearest the camera), and our own Bishop Michael Campbell (also pictured next to the Archbishop).

The Cathedral staff in Newcastle are no doubt very relieved that the event went well and perhaps (if our own experience is anything to go by) somewhat exhausted too! Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Cardinal O'Brien were present, as was the Papal Nuncio. The two Cardinals and the Nuncio will be in Lancaster for Bishop O'Donoghue's retirement and Bishop Campbell's inauguration on 1st May. The pictures of yesterday's ordination suggest that it was a very fine occasion; if you'd like to take a look, you can see more on the Bishops' Conference website, here, or on the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle site, here. The Cathedral's website also carries a report and some pictures - click here.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Saint Joseph

This image of St Joseph, posted for his feast day today, is from the reredos in the Cathedral's Lady Chapel. He is seen kneeling in adoration of the new-born Christ, pausing in contemplation and with his hands joined in prayer. The image presents to us something of the figure of St Joseph as he appears in St Matthew's gospel - one who hears and faithfully follows the Word of God.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Fit for Mission? Marriage

It's a familiar sight in the summer months at the Cathedral - a couple stand before the altar to become united in marriage. In an age when marriage seems under threat on many sides, the importance of adequate marriage preparation seems greater than ever. Now Bishop Patrick, working with the Diocese of Lancaster Marriage and Family Life Commission, is preparing to release a new document, the last in the Fit for Mission? series, on marriage preparation. The initiative was announced by the Diocese at the weekend; the document should be available at Easter. A fuller report can be found on the diocesan website, here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Pope heads for Africa

Pope Benedict is certainly not as fond of travel as his predecessor, but today the Holy Father begins his first visit to Africa. It will also be the longest of his pontificate to date, comprising seven days in Angola and in Cameroon. On leaving, the Pope issued a message about the visit; during this message he speaks of his mission: "Yes, dear brothers and sisters! I depart for African with the awareness of having nothing else to propose and give to those whom I will meet if not Christ and the Good News of his cross, mystery of supreme love, of divine love that defeats all human resistance and in the end makes forgiveness and love of enemies possible... The Church does not pursue economic, social and political objectives; the Church proclaims Christ, certain that the Gospel can touch the hearts of all and transform them, renewing persons and society from within."

The Feast of St Patrick

Today is the feast of St Patrick, and therefore we wish a happy feast day to all our Irish blog readers and all who share the saint's name (not least our own Bishop!). The picture here does not show one of Erin's green valleys - instead it is a picture from West Cumbria, in our own Diocese of Lancaster. While there is little certainty about Patrick's life it is clear that he was born in Britain; some say he lived in Cumbria and was taken to Ireland from there. Perhaps our Diocese has a special connection with this great missionary bishop and saint, whose feast is celebrated by so many around the world.

Monday, 16 March 2009

The Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross are an important Lenten devotion. They invite us to walk with the Lord on His final jounrey. He thought of us as He gave His life; we are to meditate on His final hours as we walk with Him.

These images were taken yesterday afternoon. The Stations are prayed three times each week at the Cathedral during Lent, on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Full details are given on the parish newsletter, which can be found in pdf format here.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

A young saint, a young Church, young people

Last Thursday's meeting about the visit of St Thérèse seemed to go well, and has no doubt helped to put the event 'on the radar' around the Diocese. One of the more memorable lines at the meeting was spoken by the Carmelite Fr Eugene McCaffrey, who was heavily involved in the visit of St Thérèse's relics to Ireland in 2001. He said, "Thérèse is a young saint. We must never forget that." With this in mind it is hoped that young people will play a big part in the visit of the relics to Lancaster in September; more details will be published over the coming months. In Sydney last summer at the World Youth Day Pope Benedict spoke of the Church's need of young people: "She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit."

The Holy Father's words in Sydney perhaps echoed part of his homily at his inauguration nearly four years ago: "the Church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way towards the future." The visit of St Thérèse will be an opportunity for the young people of our Diocese to show their faith. For those who can't wait that long, take a look at the Diocesan Youth Service website, which has details of events for young people. Their feature, 'Being a young Catholic', is a powerful reminder of the faith of young people in our Diocese.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

200 days... and counting

It's exactly 200 days until the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux arrive here at Lancaster Cathedral. Already a great deal of time and thought has gone into planning the event, and interest is beginning to build. Several coach parties are already booked in and many more will no doubt follow when publicity for the visit is released. Today Bishop Campbell will meet with Deans and representatives from each deanery to discuss the visit. It is very much hoped that every parish will be represented at the event, and that the whole Diocese may benefit. We are now getting regular enquiries about the programme for the visit; a few more days of patience are required, then all will be revealed! We will publish the programme on the Cathedral website and on a new blog being launched for the visit; the publication date is March 28th - exactly six months before the relics come to us. In meantime, if you need more information or wish to book a group visit to the relics, please contact us.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Ticket Office

The date 1st May looms large for the Cathedral; on this day Bishop O'Donoghue will retire and Bishop Campbell will be formally inaugurated as the sixth Bishop of Lancaster. Invitations have been going out over the last week or so. Today our volunteers are in preparing the tickets for the Mass; due to space restrictions we will not be able to admit anyone without a ticket.

Not only do the tickets have to be cut; each is also stamped with the Cathedral parish seal, to ensure that any ticket which turns up on the day is, in fact, the genuine article! A small number of tickets is available to each parish; parishioners wishing to attend the Mass should speak to their parish priest.

Monday, 9 March 2009

World Book Week in School

Last week was 'World Book Week'. On Friday children at the Cathedral Primary School were allowed to come in dressed as a character from any book of their choosing. There were some very impressive costumes, and the headteacher, Miss Goddard, invited the Cathedral Blog to come and take some pictures. Above we see reception class...

... in these two pictures years 3 and 4...

... and, below, some of year 5. Many of the staff also got dressed up - bravely - for the occasion! We can see a great range of characters, from some of the Mister Men to Robin Hood, from Mary Poppins to Batman. Who can you identify?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sacristy Open Day

After Mass this morning parishioners had the chance to come and take a closer look at the sacristy and its workings. There was no formal presentation; rather the group had the chance to ask questions about the objects we use for the celebration of Mass and their significance. The 'open day' included a look at the vestments, some of the chalices and the liturgical books. Above, one of the sacristans demonstrates how to light the thurible, in which incense is burnt. The session was organised as part of our 'Curious about the Eucharist?' series, which continues with talks each Tuesday evening during March (details here).

Friday, 6 March 2009

Floral Artists Wanted!

This week - like many weeks of late - we have had a number of local flower clubs through the doors, each coming to see what part they could play in the flower festival which will take place at the Cathedral at the end of June. A large number of local clubs have now agreed to take part, and the majority of the major displays are already assigned. There are one or two fairly large areas left, plus some smaller projects. If you are a member of a flower club, if you help with flowers in your own parish, or if you have a talent that you'd like to put to use, please get in touch with us. The flower festival takes place 26th-29th June, the weekend of the Cathedral's patronal feast, as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Waiting to be transformed

The statue of St Thérèse stands in the cloister area, waiting for this small open space to be transformed. The area is to be converted into a garden; it presents a number of challenges, not least because it gets little or no direct sunlight. A competition has now been launched at Myerscough College, a few miles south of Lancaster. Students will draw up designs based on a brief given by the Cathedral; the winning entry will be judged in April, so that work may be completed in time for the visit of the saint's relics in September. It seems appropriate that young people are involved in the designing of this garden, given that Thérèse is a patron of the youth. The project is being funded by donations.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Rite of Election

Last Saturday the Rite of Election took place in the Catehdral. People come from all over the Diocese for this annual event, at which adults preparing to be baptised or received into the Church at Easter come to be formally accepted by the Bishop.

This year Bishop Campbell presided at the event. The early part of the service follows a similar structure to the Mass: there is a Liturgy of the Word consisting of an Old Testament reading, psalm and Gospel reading - the readings for the first Sunday of Lent were used.

In his homily the Bishop spoke about those joining the Church being drawn into a covenant with God: the covenant made in Christ, the last covenant and completion of all earlier covenants, such as the one made with Noah. Speaking of the Lord's temptation in the desert, he said that new members of the Church could also expect trials, but must always have confidence in the grace of God given to them. There were more words of encouragement: "You are turning to the Lord, to Him who offers us the fullness of life and truth through the ministry of His Church. Our prayer and our wish for you is this, 'May God who has begun this good work in you, bring it to completion.' " The full text of Bishop Campbell's homily can be found here.

After the homily the catechumens (those preparing for baptism) and candidates (those already baptised but not yet Catholic) were presented to the Bishop; after the formal proceedings they had the chance to come forward with their sponsors to meet him.

They were then brought on to the sanctuary as a sign of their being welcomed into the Church. Most of the candidates and catechumens will be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. We are asked to pray for them over their final weeks of preparation.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Eucharist: a mystery to be celebrated

This evening our catechetical programme 'Curious about the Eucharist?' resumes with the first of four Lenten talks. The four talks will explore how we celebrate Mass and why we do things in the way we do. They take place under the heading, 'The Eucharist - a mystery to be celebrated', a title lifted from Pope Benedict's document Sacramentum Caritatis (the full text can be found here). The first session takes place this evening at 7:30pm in St Walburga's chapel (access from Balmoral Road); all are welcome. There is also an 'open day' taking place in the sacristy this coming weekend - after Mass there will be an opportunity to come and see close-up some of the things we use to celebrate Mass, and to find out more about what they mean. For more details on the Eucharist talks, click here.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Peter's Progress

As mentioned earlier, at the weekend the first of three dramas marking our 150th anniversary took place. It was called 'Peter's Progress - the windows speak', and aimed to bring to life some stained glass windows which show the story of our patron.

At the beginning the twelve scenes were represented in stillness, accompanied by appropriate music sung by a quartet. The singers blended from one piece to the next as the scene changed; the result was very effective. Above we see Peter (crouched, with the red sash) among his fishing nets. He is being called by the Lord (on the far right of the picture).

Later scenes show Peter's failures, not least his three-fold denial of Jesus on Good Friday.

The story moved through Pentecost, when Peter's great speech brought many people to faith, and then on to show him continuing the work of the Lord. Here he prays that Tabitha may be restored to life.

The final scene represented Peter being crucified, upside down. After many trials and failures, along with some moments of brilliance, Peter finally completed the task the Lord had set him in the first scene: "Follow me".

It was dark, of course, so the windows were lit from outside as the scenes were portrayed by the actors.

After the twelve scenes, the drama moved on to provide some interpretation set in a modern context. The idea was simple but very effective: it centred on an actor, a man of no faith, called to take part in a play about Peter's life. At first he is highly reluctant to get involved, but over time he grows more interested in the story of the saint, and begins to learn from it. Through his eyes the audience was invited to interpret the events depicted, so that they too could take something from the life of St Peter.

In the end the actor takes much away from what he has learned. It was not a fairy-tale ending in which he came to a deep faith; rather, his journey of discovery led him to appreciate the life of St Peter and to think about what faith in Christ means. From being firmly on the outside he is, at least, left wondering, and cannot help being inspired by the sacrifice Peter made for the Lord.

It was very impressive to see so many people involved in the production: some professional actors working alongside parishioners of all ages, including many children. Two more dramas based on St Peter are planned for later in the year: St Peter's Walk (at the Cathedral, daily 15th-21st June) will explore his influence on the early Church, and in St Peter: Keeper of the Keys (at the Grand Theatre, 18th October), he will meet some of the historic figures of the Cathedral at the gates of heaven. You can find much more about what's happening this year on our events page: click here to take a look.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

March Diary

Purple is the dominant liturgical colour of the weeks ahead, as the month of March falls entirely within the season of Lent. The Stations of the Cross are prayed publicly three times each week, with the Cathedral School coming for their own stations on Wednesday 18th. Sacramental preparation programmes move into full swing, with a number of children making their first confession later this month. Curious about the Eucharist? talks take place each Tuesday in March (more details here) and there will be an 'open day' in the sacristy next weekend as part of the programme. The Journey in Faith group also continues meeting. Behind the scenes there will be much work going on to prepare for the Chrism Mass, the Triduum and the Mass marking the transition from Bishop O'Donoghue to Bishop Campbell in early May. The full programme for the visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux will be published with the launch of a new website on 28th March. Major feasts for the month include St Joseph (19th) and the Annunciation (25th). There are three concerts: Kendal-based singers Pro Nobis (7th), pianist Roman Rudnytsky returns (13th), as do Il Suono, who perform on 21st and sing at the extraordinary form Mass on 22nd.

Billington's Blog this month will feature accounts of life at Dalton Square, the small chapel which preceded our current church building; we'll here something about life among recusant Catholics and about some of the Lancaster Martyrs, and we will look back on a much more recent event: the episcopal ordination of Bishop Campbell, which took place at the end of March last year. You can find Canon Billington's Blog here.