Monday, 18 February 2008

Lent II

At the heart of our relationship with God is worship. We worship God especially in the celebration of the Liturgy. The Liturgy in fact is the official worship that the people of God offer to God in which God is glorified and his people sanctified. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacrament of Love beyond all telling, is the fount and summit of all worship. Here at St John’s daily Mass has been offered for many, many years. Some early Christians in Africa said to their persecutors that without Sunday they could not exist. They could not exist because Sunday was the day when they would come together to celebrate Mass. Without Mass there is no living church. The Holy Sacrifice needs to be offered in noble simplicity, here at St John’s God is always given the best. Liturgy uses all our senses to focus our attention on what we are really celebrating. Among other things we use different colours, the priest is told by the church what celebrations may be had on any given day and the colour of the vestments (chasuble) worn signify or develop the idea behind that celebration.
Recently the need arose for us here to acquire some new vestments. People were very generous and in no time twelve were donated.

The chasubles were ordered from abroad and the week end commenced with the dealer arriving in Sevenoaks with four out of the twelve chasubles and the impressive monstrance that is given in memory of Tina Newholm (R.I.P.)

I generally only meet with the dealer during the summer holidays, so it was a joy to see him out of season and out of place. We had a lot of catching up to do. As earlier in the week I did not have my usual day off I took this day as my day of rest and after spending some time in Sevenoaks we got a train and went to visit a dear friend in London.
Saturday I said the Office and celebrated Mass on my own as Fr Mark is away on holiday. After the morning Mass it was a great treat to get the Liturgical books ready and the sacristy prepared for the Sunday liturgies.
After a quick lunch I went down to the local hospital to do some visiting, then back to the Clergy House for a quiet afternoon and some time to revisit the sermon.
I was prepared for a drop in numbers this Sunday given that it is half term. Although the drop did happen I should not have worried too much.
In the early Mass we enjoyed the Lady Chapel and the stillness afforded by the time of day. One or two after Mass were getting ready for a walk given that the weather was fantastic and were discussing pubs where they could stop for refreshment: isn’t life hard for some?
I said the Office privately and started greeting servers as they came in for the Sung Mass. The choir kept their usual rehearsal after Morning Prayer. Today they were practising the Kyrie by Byrd which we had as our communion anthem.
During the notices I invited parishioners to have a look at the monstrance and chasubles which were laid out on the altar of the Guild of All Souls. Everyone commented on how appropriate these new items were.
I always enjoy apr├Ęs-mass. It gives one the opportunity to feel the pulse of the Parish. I enjoyed greeting people from the very young to the most senior. It is the time of catching up, news and small talk. It was good to have with us a visitor from St Mary’s Benfleet who brought with him greeting. After lunch it was down the hill to hospital. My daughter Maria came with me to the sacristy to pick up the linen for the washing and to give a hand in one or two things that had to be done. I took the Most Blessed to the hospital for the Communion of the Sick of which we had two and a visit to every patient.
Back home I watched 5 minutes (literally) of Songs of Praise as I heard them mention the name of that great man, Trevor Huddleston CR; it all brings back memories of Mirfield.
At 6pm we started our second instalment of Lent with Saint Benedict. There were 21 people and Roger gave us another good exposition. These talks will be available in booklet form by Palm Sunday. For these talks an ad hoc shrine for St Benedict is erected using a painting done by the speaker and a relic of the saint. It provides a focus during Evening Prayer and the talk. The evening ended as usual with Benediction. All are pleased with the quality of the talks, one can see that Roger gave it a lot of thought and put in these talks a lot of hard work.
Another great day as we continue to journey to the great festival of Easter. I wish that those who are blessed with holidays this week have a relaxing and fun time but not to forget their Lenten devotions and duties.

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