Friday 21 March 2008

A darkness covered the land

There is something powerful about the way the Cathedral looks today. Almost everything has been stripped from the altars: no candles, no cloths, no flowers - in other words, no life. Everything reminds us of the desolation of this day: Jesus is arrested and is put to death; the disciples scatter, confused and dejected.

Where last night people gathered and prayed until Midnight in the Lady Chapel, today its altar has also been stripped. The tabernacle is empty: a sign of the absence of the Lord, who has been taken away by His arrest and execution.

So too at the altar in the Blessed Sacrament chapel. Above this altar, the Triptych shows scenes from the Passion and death of the Lord.

There is also darkness. The Gospels tell us that a darkness covered the land as Jesus hung upon the Cross. Today the Cathedral will not be lit except when absoultely necessary. The Light of the World is to be placed in His tomb.

This morning the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer was sung in the Cathedral. The Stations of the Cross (pictured) are taking place. People meditate on the Stations, fourteen points of Jesus' last journey, using spoken prayers and images which hand upon the walls of the Cathedral. The Stations will also be prayed this evening at 7pm, followed by sung Compline (night prayer). The main liturgy of the day is the commemoration of the Lord's Passion, which begins at 3pm, the time of His death.