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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 17th April 2020 Posted on Friday 17 April 2020

So it was confirmed this week that the lockdown will last for at least another three weeks. In years to come I’m sure that people will look back on this time remembering how we all coped and the younger ones amongst us will probably bore the next generation telling them about it – but we have to get through it first. As it turns out most of my travel for the year had been arranged to take place during May this year, worse luck, how’s that for bad timing! This week the choir were supposed to be on tour in Holland and over the next few weeks I was supposed to travel to Cologne being invited to a service to mark the end of the Second World War and a concert for peace in Cologne Cathedral.

I had also booked my main annual holiday in May to Turkey which has also had to be cancelled. I did see an item on the news about a couple whose cruise had been cancelled and so they decided to enjoy a cruise from home. It showed them sitting with their feet up drinking gin and tonics in holiday attire whilst viewing a large screen showing a cruise ship landing on some exotic island in the Caribbean – rather than being a substitute for a holiday that would make me need one even more!

I hope you are all managing to cope and able to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues even though it has to be from a distance. Please let us know how you are getting on and particularly if any of you are not well or need anything. We have been blessed with some lovely weather over the last two weeks so I hope you are all managing to get some exercise, if you are able to go out. I had actually lost weight up until the end of Holy Week but have started to put it back on since Easter.

As it was pointed out to me last week the best way of finding out whether wearing a tracksuit is concealing the increasing bulge is to try your uniform on that will either give you a pleasant surprise or a bit of a shock!

The Holy Week services celebrated by Archbishop Malcolm were live streamed simultaneously on Facebook and Youtube. From the feedback we have received they were watched by a great number of people and appreciated by all. We will continue to keep with the 11am time for Mass for the next few Sundays.

One of the things I have had to question and relearn over the last few weeks by having to say Mass on my own is ‘what is the purpose of this without a congregation’? Is it just a personal act of faith? Well no it is much more than that. Not only is the Mass offered in normal times with the people it is also offered on behalf of the people. When sharing our faith together the offering on behalf of everyone can be overlooked. But when the priest is sadly on his own the very real reason for continuing to offer mass is to do it on behalf of everyone who can’t be there and the wider community. To offer thanks for the sacrifices that people are making, to ask for God’s mercy on us all and to pray for those in need. So even though Mass is celebrated in a solitary way it is very much done with a sense that this is on behalf of you all.

Canon O’Brien
Cathedral Dean