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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 14th February 2021 Posted on Saturday 13 February 2021

Season of Lent
We begin the season of Lent this week with the celebration of Ash Wednesday on 17th February. We will just have two Masses that day this year at 12 Midday (which will be live-streamed) and at 5pm, both within the main Cathedral space. Ashes will be blessed at the normal time after the Gospel but will be distributed at the end of Mass as you leave the Cathedral.

We have received various instructions from the Diocese and the Congregation for Divine Worship that we should either distribute the Ashes by sprinkling them over peoples’ heads or giving a small sachet to all who attend to self administer at home. However seeing this is the season of variants of one kind or another we have decided to introduce a new local variant for the imposition of Ashes which for want of a better title we have named it ‘The Mount Pleasant Variant’. This will enable us to carry out the imposition of ashes safely at the end of Mass for those who feel able to attend.

However, we are aware that most people will be celebrating Ash Wednesday at home this year. Cardinal Nichols has encouraged families at home to mark this day by spending a short time together in prayer using some familiar catholic prayers and for one of the family to sign each member on the forehead with a cross. He writes ’receiving ashes is an outward sign of an inner step, a movement of the heart towards our beloved Lord. This year I urge you to concentrate much more on the inner, spiritual movement, than on its outward manifestation in the imposition of ashes’

During the weeks of Lent beginning after the First Sunday there will be two periods of confessions on a Saturday in the morning at 10.30am after Mass and from 3-4pm. For the time being we will not have confessions after Mass on weekdays but just the two periods on Saturdays dedicated specifically for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

We will stream a service of Stations of the Cross each Friday at 2pm, for those who wish to access this devotion when they wish that afternoon or evening. This will start from Friday 26th February. Fr Chris McCoy will also be offering a series of Lenten Reflections during the weeks of Lent. There will be more details on this in next week’s newsletter.

A brief thought for Lent. ‘We have already had to give up a lot over this last year. Maybe this Lent isn’t the year to give up something as we are already doing it involuntarily. It could be the time to dig a bit deeper and think about the lessons we are learning from the pandemic. For example how we are treating the earth, about the racism, inequality and poverty within our own society and around the world when we look at who is being hurt the most by this pandemic.’

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean