In his messages for Easter, Pope Francis prayed that the ‘proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection may sustain our hope and transform it into concrete acts of charity.’ He made a heartfelt plea for peace on hearing the tragic news of the killings and woundings of people in the explosions in three churches and luxury hotels in Colombo as they were celebrating the Feast and holiday rest of Easter. He entrusted to the Lord all who have died or been wounded. “Before the many sufferings of our time may Jesus not find us cold and indifferent but make us builders of bridges, not walls. Christ is alive, and he remains with us – He does not abandon all those experiencing hardship, pain and sorrow.”
One of the few programmes that has been worth watching on TV over the last couple of months has been the ‘Pilgrimage to Rome’ series. I managed to watch the final programme in the series on I-player this week. The group of celebrities who took part, who all seemed to have grown together as friends over the journey, were given a last minute private audience with Pope Francis at the end of their pilgrimage and the whole occasion was quite moving and uplifting. All bar one of the group of celebrities were emotionally and positively affected from the experience of meeting the Pope and it rounded the whole series off on a real note of hope. Pope Francis finished the audience saying that he saw them all as brothers and sisters and he didn’t ask any of them what their faith was because we all have a basic faith in humanity. He asked those who believe in God to pray for him and those who do not to wish him a good journey so that he doesn’t let anyone down.
This Sunday, the day of Divine Mercy, marks the end of the octave of Easter but we continue the joyful festive season of Easter for a fifty day period up to the Feast of Pentecost. May the Risen Lord grant us the grace to feel a deep sense of peace and joy at this time. One of the slightly confusing details following the Easter Octave is that any feasts that would have normally fallen on the days within that week end up being transferred to the week after. So we have the situation this week of celebrating St Catherine of Sienna on Monday and St George on Tuesday when everyone else celebrates St George’s day on Monday. One of life’s many mysteries.
On Tuesday evening we have our final deanery Synod meeting before our local parishes begin the process of engaging with parishioners and local people regarding their hopes and concerns and the future and direction of the church within our Diocese. It will be interesting to hear the various suggestions and ideas that the different parish synod members have for listening widely to people within their areas. I know that St Charles, Aigburth, have organised a series of talks on the nature of the church to provoke discussion and help people in understanding the church’s mission. These talks begin this Tuesday for a series of five weeks starting at 7pm and are open to all. We will be giving more information regarding what will be taking place within our own Cathedral Parish in the near future.
Canon Anthony O’Brien