As the days go by it feels very strange being completely alone wandering around the Cathedral complex. You become so used to bumping into staff or volunteers or members of the public in different areas of the building and the emptiness is now starting to feel quite eerie. The Cathedral is soulless without people and without a community – you are all really missed here. To compensate for the emptiness I’ve even resorted to singing the occasional hymn or psalm up in the Cathedral to hear the echo and try and create a bit of joy and life to the daily prayers on my own- I’m not sure what the Lord thinks of my efforts!
Archbishop Malcolm will be celebrating the services in Holy Week at the Cathedral but privately in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel with the services streamed live. Everything will have to be simplified to be manageable and containable in the small chapel and also for the Archbishop to cope on his own. The Mass for Palm Sunday will be at 11am – the one thing that will not be able to take place is the usual procession with Palms. The palms were all delivered some weeks ago but will now be largely redundant without a congregation. We will try to create a small display of palms on the Cathedral Door as a symbol of the significance of this weekend.
Many of you will feel a real sense of emptiness during this coming week. Holy Week is normally such a busy time, particularly in the Cathedral, with so many people in our community having to play a part in celebrating and coming together to commemorate these most important days of the church year. I will miss the fact that there will be no great gathering for the Mass of Chrism- the Oils will simply be blessed by Archbishop Malcolm in a separate service of The Word this year. The beautiful ceremonial throughout the week will all have to be reduced to be managed by the celebrant alone. The glorious music creating the mood and praying the psalms and antiphons of each day will have to be simply prayed or chanted alone. The physical involvement such as the palms, the procession to the altar of repose, the veneration of the cross and the sprinkling with newly blessed Easter Water cannot be shared this year along with the reception of the Lord in Holy Communion. Despite all this we can all still walk this journey of Holy Week in simple ways by joining the Archbishop for the live streaming of the services, by having some devotional items of your own highlighted at home that link you with each of the special days and despite not being able to come to the Cathedral by sustaining a sense that we are still together in spirit and prayer.
Along with so many others I have also been filling my time doing a bit of gardening and trying my hand at cooking- creating dishes based on food that has been in the cupboard or freezer for some time and thankfully eating well. I’ve now discovered that you can make a curry out of any number of ingredients and dried pasta however old is still ok. The one problem with creating dishes is that I tend to use too much of everything and then end up having to eat the same thing for the next couple of days. Mind you I have not quite reached the stage of the Cure of Ars who it is said used to cook potatoes and veg once a week and made it last for the whole week and he certainly wouldn’t have had a fridge or freezer in those days.