This weekend we welcome the many guests who will be attending the Civic Mass at 11.00am representing the civic, judicial and public life of our city and local boroughs. We take the opportunity today to pray for our region and all who hold office and positions of responsibility.
On Wednesday we mark the beginning of the season of Lent with the reception of ashes. There are three Masses during the day at the usual times and a later Service of the Word with the distribution of ashes at 7.00pm in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Resulting from the preparatory meetings for the Diocesan Synod it was suggested that we use as our road map for preparing for the Synod the document by Pope Francis entitled ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ (the joy of the gospel). For the five Sundays of Lent we will have reflections based on the Gospel and a corresponding theme from that document. We are all encouraged to read and pray using the Gospel for each Sunday as part of our journey through the season and Pope Francis offers advice at the beginning of this work on how we should do this.
“There is one particular way of listening to what the Lord wishes to tell us in his word and of letting ourselves be transformed by the Spirit. It is what we call lectio divina. It consists of reading God’s word in a moment of prayer and allowing it to enlighten and renew us.  (document reference).
In the presence of God, during a recollected reading of the text, it is good to ask, for example: “Lord, what does this text say to me? What is it about my life that you want to change by this text? What troubles me about this text? Why am I not interested in this? Or perhaps: What do I find pleasant in this text? What is it about this word that moves me? What attracts me? Why does it attract me?”
When we make an effort to listen to the Lord, temptations usually arise. One of them is simply to feel troubled or burdened, and to turn away. Another common temptation is to think about what the text means for other people, and so avoid applying it to our own life. It can also happen that we look for excuses to water down the clear meaning of the text. Or we can wonder if God is demanding too much of us, asking for a decision which we are not yet prepared to make. This leads many people to stop taking pleasure in the encounter with God’s word; but this would mean forgetting that no one is more patient than God our Father, that no one is more understanding and willing to wait. He always invites us to take a step forward, but does not demand a full response if we are not yet ready. He simply asks that we sincerely look at our life and present ourselves honestly before him, and that we be willing to continue to grow, asking from him what we ourselves cannot as yet achieve. ”
Next Saturday there is a preparation day for couples who are getting married this year within the Cathedral or Crypt. At 3pm next Sunday there will be a service of welcome and enrolment for all those adults from across the Diocese who are to be received into the Catholic Church at Easter. Our own Cathedral RCIA group have been meeting weekly since the beginning of October last year and there are 6 candidates for baptism and 3 others who have been baptised but wish to be received into the church.
Canon Anthony O’Brien