This Sunday we welcome all our civic guests and those who represent the many public and voluntary organisations within our region as well as representatives of catholic societies and organisations throughout the Archdiocese. The processions involving those present in their ceremonial robes provides a visible reminder of the important roles in our society which ensure our safety, well being and public services. The Civic Mass today offers us an opportunity to ask God’s blessing and pray for our communities and for all those who hold important office within our region.
Today is also the feast of our Lady of Lourdes – a day of prayer for the sick and those who care for them. The readings for Mass this weekend refer to suffering and the isolating effects it can have on the sick person and the concern that Jesus has in the gospel for those who are sick. There is a Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Malcolm to be read out at all the Masses this weekend related to the Feast and the Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent with the reception of Ashes. Please note that the later evening service at 7.30pm is not Mass but a Service of the Word with the distribution of Ashes and that the 5.15pm Mass is celebrated at the High Altar in the main Cathedral. There will be Stations of the Cross after 12.15 Mass in the Crypt every Friday during the season of Lent. We will also be having a series of Lenten talks, arranged by the Cathedral Friends, on four Wednesday evenings in Lent. The talks provide us with an opportunity to hear of the work of Willowbrook, a hospice for the dying, Micah, our local foodbank and volition, Timpson’s policy and experience of employment of ex prisoners, and the work of the Whitechapel Centre. The first talk on Wednesday 21st February at 6.30pm will be given by Charlotte Hopkins from the Whitechapel Centre on their work with those who are homeless.
Next Sunday afternoon at 3.00pm, the First Sunday of Lent, there is the Rite of Election Service led by Archbishop Malcolm. Since October last year a group of adults have been meeting once a week at Cathedral House learning about and exploring aspects of our Catholic faith. Next Sunday seven of them will join with others from across the Archdiocese to enrol for baptism or, if already baptised, reception into full communion with the Catholic Church at Easter.
During this week I am attending a days training on ‘Facilitative Management’ along with some of the other Diocesan Trustees and Bishops. This has been described as developing techniques and processes that involve all stakeholders in decision making and change. Rather than more processes there are times when I think I need training in strategies to break free of management. Anyway, I did try one of the suggested facilitative management strategies at the end of one meeting, which was to ask if everyone felt like they had been given a fair chance to share their opinions and have them heard – rather than bringing the meeting to a close, it was a catalyst for another hours discussion! I will be interested in finding out what I did wrong, otherwise it could make for much longer meetings and discussions in future which is not what is wanted or needed.
Canon Anthony O’Brien