Monday, 6 October 2008

Mass of the Dedication

Yesterday was the feast of the Dedication of the Cathedral, the annual celebration of the day when St Peter's was first consecrated as a house of prayer. The main celebration was at 10:30am Mass.

A large congregation joined our Bishops and the Cathedral clergy for the Mass. Fr Robert Billing, the Bishops' Secretary, also concelebrated.

After the Gospel, Bishop O'Donoghue blessed the people with the Gospel book. This gesture is a symbolic prayer, asking that God may bless us as we listen to His Word; it also reminds us of the sacredness of Scripture.

Bishop Campbell preached at Mass and at Vespers during the afternoon. At Mass he reminded us that the Cathedral only comes to life through the presence of God's people, who are united with Christ as living stones, making a spiritual house (cf. 1 Peter 2:5). On this point he quoted the words of St Augustine: "This is the house of our prayers; we ourselves are the house of God." He also spoke of the witness of the Lancaster Martyrs, saying, "By their martyrdom for the faith of Christ they have passed on to us a precious inheritance which we must not squander." The full text of Bishop Campbell's homilies for Mass and Vespers can be viewed in pdf format, click here.

Children from the Cathedral Primary School played an important part, welcoming people, serving at Mass and reading the intercessions. Here some of the children can be seen bringing forward the bread and wine and presenting them to Bishop O'Donoghue.

Mass is celebrated on this altar every day, as the Eucharist is the centre of the Church's life. When the Cathedral was consecrated on 4th October 1859, it was given to God as a place where this sacrifice and the prayers of God's people would be offered. The celebration of Mass on this feast invites us all to renew our own dedication to the Lord.

This year it was a particular joy that both our Bishops were able to be present. The Cathedral is the church of the diocesan Bishop - technically it is he (not the Dean) who is the parish priest. The presence of our Bishops reminds us of the role the Cathedral plays not just as a parish church, but as a spiritual home for all the people of the Diocese.

As the procession left the Cathedral at the end of Mass, a new year in the life of the Cathedral began. Now St Peter's begins its 150th year as a house of God- many celebrations are planned to mark the 150th anniversary in 2009.

The Mass was also notable because it was the first time that Bishop Campbell has been at the Cathedral for a Sunday Mass. Afterwards he was able to meet many of the parishioners before going to the Social Centre for the parish lunch, laid on by a dedicated team of volunteers. Tomorrow the Blog takes a look back at Vespers of the feast.