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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 17 July 2016 Posted on Sunday 17 July 2016

Cathedral Choirs Summer Break
It has been a strange week with regard to liturgical matters with Cardinal Sarah, who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship announcing that he wanted to encourage all priests to celebrate mass ‘ad orientem’ (facing east, priest and people facing the same way or in other terms with back to the congregation) with effect from the First Sunday of Advent. This statement was made during a conference taking place in London and caused a considerable amount of reaction in the catholic press. I saw an amusing cartoon depicting a parishioner saying to their parish priest ‘have you heard the latest announcement in the church, we will welcome seeing the back of you father.’ This was then followed by a statement on behalf of Pope Francis indicating that no changes had been agreed with him and that there was no policy of the ‘reform of the reform’ to reverse the liturgical reforms of the second Vatican council. It struck me that in the context of our Cathedral main sanctuary, with the altar to a central place as encouraged by the Council, the priest always has his back to some of the congregation and faces others (though technically not facing east) and the liturgy incorporates both Latin Gregorian Chant and the vernacular. I’m not sure if that makes us ‘traditionalists’ or ‘modern’ – probably neither and nor does it matter – what does matter is that we do try to create a solemn and prayerful liturgy according to the mind and teaching of the universal catholic church.

This Saturday morning the BBC will be doing some filming in the Cathedral for a background programme related to ‘Call the Midwife’. Apparently part of the series was based on a real life story of a former religious sister and her experiences as a nurse in the sixties – she used to attend mass here and often visit our Cathedral during those years. The programme wants to interview her in situ and tell something of her life story. I’ve not watched any of the series but I know that Archbishop Malcolm is a fan so I’m sure he will be interested in the Cathedrals link to the programme.

Our Cathedral Choirs break for their summer holidays after this weekend, ending with a garden party (weather permitting) and farewells to those who are moving on after Choral Evening Prayer this Sunday afternoon. There will still be a choral Solemn Mass throughout the summer weeks as there is a full schedule of visiting choirs throughout August. Graduation ceremonies for Liverpool University take place this week at the Philharmonic Hall with most of the departmental receptions being held in our Crypt Halls this means that the 12.15 Mass will be transferred this week to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

The Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes begins next weekend and later in the month groups of young people connected with Lowe House, St Helens, and the University Catholic Chaplaincy will be taking part in World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. We pray that all those going on pilgrimage will have a joyful and faith filled time away and that all who will be travelling on pilgrimage or holiday within the next weeks will reach their destinations safely.

O Holy Virgin, in the midst of your days of glory, do not forget the sorrows of this earth. Cast a merciful glance upon those who are suffering, struggling against difficulties, with their lips constantly pressed against life’s bitter cup. Have pity on those who love each other and are separated. Have pity on our rebellious hearts. Have pity on our weak faith. Have pity on those we love. Have pity of those who weep, on those who pray, on those who fear. Grant hope and peace to all.

Canon Anthony O’Brien