Sunday 28 March 2010

Palm Sunday

Today we begin Holy Week, the high point of the Church's year. Mass at the Cathedral this morning began with a procession through the Cathedral gardens, after the reading of St Luke's account of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. For the next seven days we are called to accompany the Lord in His suffering, death and resurrection.

There are over twenty public services (liturgies and devotions) at the Cathedral during this week. This morning the Bishop, who will preside at five of these liturgies, celebrated the 10:30am Mass. It will be the first time that Bishop Campbell has celebrated Holy Week at the Cathedral; last year Bishop O'Donoghue presided, a few weeks ahead of his retirement.

You are most welcome to come to the Cathedral for the liturgies taking place this week. Of particular note for those outside the parish is the Diocesan Chrism Mass, which takes place on Thursday at 11:30am. You can find the full Holy Week timetable in the Cathedral Diary: click here.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Convent Chapel Windows

Today is the feast of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and asked her to be the Mother of the Saviour. The scene is represented in one of the windows of the former convent chapel at the Cathedral (now referred to as "St Walburga's", and used mainly for catechesis). As you can see from this image, the window is quite badly faded, seemingly as a result of faulty glass-making techniques which were sometimes used in the early 1850s.

The other stained glass window on the same wall shows two independent scenes: on the left Our Lady as a child, being taught by her mother, St Anne; on the right, St John the Evangelist at work. It too has suffered over the years, with much of the detail lost. There are examples of this sort of deterioration in other churches; one notable example in the north of England is the glass in St Joseph's Chapel in the seminary at Ushaw, which dates from around the same time.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Papal Visit: details confirmed

Today details of the Holy Father's visit to Britain have been confirmed. The four-day trip will take place 16th-19th September, beginning in Scotland. The main public celebrations of Mass will be in Glasgow and Coventry; at the latter the Pope will beatify Cardinal Newman. The state visit - an historic first - also includes an address to civil leaders in Westminster Hall, where St Thomas More was sentenced to death in 1535. You can find many more details about the visit on the dedicated website which has been launched - click here to take a look. Also keep an eye on this blog for further news and developments, as the Cathedral parish makes its plans to see the Holy Father during his visit.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Saturdays during Lent

Although there haven't been too many posts on the blog recently, there is plenty going on behind the scenes, and a fair amount at parish level too. Our Tuesday evening talks on Holy Week are continuing, as are our Friday evening meditations on the Passion of the Lord. Saturdays, too, have an extra opportunity for Lenten prayer. Throughout the year the Rosary is prayed on Sunday afternoons in the Cathedral (Joyful Mysteries during Advent and Christmas, then the Mysteries of Light until Lent, and the Glorious Mysteries from Easter Sunday onwards), but during Lent this is replaced by Stations of the Cross. So that the Rosary is prayed publicly the whole year round, the Sorrowful Mysteries are now prayed during Exposition on Saturday mornings during Lent, beginning at 11:40am.

Also on Saturdays, we are now praying for God's blessing upon the forthcoming Papal visit, details of which are due to be announced shortly. Each Saturday until the visit, at the end of 12:15pm Mass, a short prayer is said for our country and prayers for the Holy Father's intentions are offered. Please pray for Pope Benedict in the months ahead, and if you haven't yet signed the petition set up to welcome him, you can find it here.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Choosing the Common Good

You may have seen reports during the week about the launch of a new document from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. The document, Choosing the Common Good, was launched at a press conference on Wednesday. The pictures here are from the Bishops' Conference Flickr site and are (c) Mazur/

Archbishop Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Smith of Cardiff, chair and vice-chair of the conference, led the proceedings. The Archbishop of Westminster has also written the foreword to the document, which states that its purpose is to promote the good of all and a greater understanding of Catholic thinking, ahead of both the General Election and the papal visit.

The document deals with some of the key issues concerning the Church in our country today: the practice of virtue, the value of human life, globalisation and ecology, migration, marriage and the family, community cohesion, the consequences of the economic crisis and the right and duty of faith communities to make a contribution to the life of the country. It's a fairly concise document - about 20 pages in total - and we are encouraged to read it over the coming weeks. The full text can be downloaded from the Bishops' Conference website (click here).

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Make the Pope welcome: sign the petition

As you will know, Pope Benedict is due to visit our country later this year. Details of the visit are still to be announced, but it seems likely to be a four-day visit in the middle of September, and we can expect to see the programme before too long. As news of the visit emerged, a number of secular groups got together to organise a petition against the event. Now a petition has been launched in support of the Holy Father. It takes less than a minute to sign up and show your support for the visit, so please take the time by clicking here and following the instructions. Thank you to Fr Chris Loughran of St Clare's, Preston, who notified us about this initiative.

Monday 1 March 2010

March Diary

Happy St David's Day to all readers - especially if you have Welsh connections! Today, of course, is also the first day of March, so time for us to take a look ahead at what the month brings. Before we get to April we will be in Holy Week, so a busy few weeks lie ahead. It's a penitential time, of course, and so Lenten practices and devotions such as the Stations of the Cross give this month its character. Our Friday evening devotions, and our Tuesday night talks, 'Curious about Holy Week', continue through to the end of the month. A couple of feast days break the rigours of Lent: St Patrick (17th), St Joseph (19th) and the Annunciation of the Lord (25th). Some of the children of the parish will make their First Confession towards the end of the month, ahead of their First Communion in June. You can see the full March diary (and also the schedule for Holy Week) on the Cathedral website's main diary page: click here.