Friday, 24 March 2017

April's Pastoral Letter: The Journey of Holy Week

Holy Week will soon be upon us. At 6pm in All Saints on the evening of Palm Sunday, Bishop Tony will celebrate his Chrism Mass, with the Blessing of the Holy Oils of Baptism, of Chrism and of the Sick. The theme of the Mass is a celebration of Christ our Great High Priest, who offered himself for us on the Cross, and who, reigning in Glory, calls us now to share his Divine Life. The Sacramental Oils are used in the making of disciples, in the blessing of objects and people, and in prayer for those in need, as a sign of Christ alive and active in our own day.


Bishop Tony will be joined by traditionalist Deacons and Priests from across our Diocese, those who in particular identify with the Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, and we will have the privilege of renewing our commitment to ministerial service. Following the recent, disgraceful workplace bullying of Bishop Philip North, we are yet again at a time when the catholic voice in the Church of England is under threat; there are those who wish to silence us, to refuse us the honoured place we have been promised. Despite the widespread support for Bishop Philip from women bishops and priests, a well-orchestrated campaign by a few intolerant illiberals hounded him out.  At this Mass, with their Bishop, traditionalist catholics will gather to pledge to work within our Church of England, for the good of all, and for the mutual flourishing of all, especially those with whom we disagree on this issue. We need to say that there is no place for bullying; the bullies will not win, we are staying within the Church.


Mindful of the range of views across our parishes, I hope you will take the opportunity to be present, to share in this unique, once a year event, and one that, as it is shared around traditionalist parishes, will not return here for a long time.


The most significant celebration of the Eucharist in the whole year is the Easter Liturgy. Every other Eucharist, in both of our Churches, feeds into and is fed by this event, as we receive the good news of the Resurrection. In previous years, it has been a dawn celebration, this year, in order to make it a little more accessible, it will begin at 7.30pm (not 8pm as previously notified!) in All Saints on the evening of Holy Saturday, 15th April.


The Service lasts about 90 minutes, and will be followed by Festive Refreshments. We begin with the new Fire of Easter, before carrying the light into Church, and blessing the Easter Candle. After the Easter Scriptures, the Font is blessed, Baptismal Vows are re-affirmed, and the first Eucharist of Easter is offered. 

May the Lord bless us as we prepare for the Great Week.