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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 11th February 2024 Posted on Saturday 10 February 2024

Chinese New Year

As well as being the last ordinary Sunday before we enter the season of Lent today is also the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This day each year is set aside as a day of special prayer for those who are sick and for the people who care for them. With the announcement this week that King Charles has been diagnosed as having cancer we pray especially today for His Majesty and for all who have been diagnosed or are receiving treatment for cancer.

This weekend marks the beginning of the Chinese New year, the Year of the Dragon. Traditionally we have our Annual Civic mass on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday but as most of the civic dignitaries are attending the celebrations for the Chinese New Year we have had to cancel this year’s civic celebration. After the 11am Mass some of our parishioners from Hong Kong will be giving the tea and coffee after mass a Chinese New Year celebratory theme down in in the Gibberd Room. The Cantonese greetings for New Year are either ‘Gung Hei Fat Choi’ or ‘Sun Ni Faai Lok’. No doubt I will have spelt all this wrongly!

This Wednesday we begin the season of Lent with the reception of Ashes and are asked to fast and abstain from meat that day having only one main meal. This may scupper some peoples’ romantic plans this year with Ash Wednesday occurring on Valentines Day.

It is an early start to Lent this year and many of us will still be wondering what we ought to give up or do extra for Lent. Lenten sacrifices can be valuable if they help increase our reliance on Jesus and if the void we create by giving something up opens up space in our hearts for God to fill.

As much as we consider something to abstain from during Lent, we ought to consider what we can commit to as well. What outside actions can we take to better ignite the flame of our faith within us?

Last Sunday I met a priest from Belgium who was visiting Liverpool. At the end of a short conversation he wished me a Bon Careme, or in English a good and blessed Lent. That made me question the origins of the different terms that we use for this penitential season in our two countries. The word Lent is an Anglo Saxon term which means springtime – expressing the theme of new life and renewal of faith. The French term ‘Careme’ means ‘long time’, taking time or giving time to God. Both titles help us to appreciate different aspects of this coming season. The reception of Ashes this Wednesday is an act of penance but also a sign that we will participate in this season with willing hearts and an openness to change.

We welcome Fr Anthony Lippo to the Cathedral this week. He will be serving here as an assistant priest in the Cathedral as he settles in to ministry within our Diocese.

 Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean