Joint Cathedrals Service
This third Sunday of the Year has been set aside as Word of God Sunday recently by Pope Francis. I read this week that he was going to confer two ministries during the celebration of the Papal mass this Sunday which may not at first glance seem of any great consequence but may be the beginning of a significant development for the life of the church. During mass Pope Francis will confer the ministry of lector/reader on a representative group of lay women and men and also the ministry of Catechist on another chosen group. In the past these ministries would only be conferred in a public liturgical setting and made a permanent role for those on the way to ordination. Even though many lay people within catholic communities have taken on these roles for many years Pope Francis has now opened the way and offered the opportunity for some to exercise these ministries in a more permanent and formal way and this is to be conferred and celebrated publicly in the liturgy. He will present those conferred with the ministry of Lector with a bible, which they are called to proclaim and those as catechists will be given a Cross, to show the missionary character of the service they are about to undertake.
This Sunday we have a Joint Cathedrals Service of Choral Evening Prayer as a shared act of worship during the week of prayer for Christian Unity. This is an annual alternating event between our two Cathedrals. It can be easy for us to take for granted the cooperation, shared witness and friendships that there are between our two Cathedrals and wider ecumenical relationships within the city so it is right that we come together and give thanks for this and renew our commitments to work together. The guest preacher this year is Sir Mark Hedley, a retired former high court judge and lay preacher in St Peters, Everton – he is now a Deputy Lieutenant of Liverpool.
It has now been confirmed that the Joint Catholic and Anglican Bishops Conference will be taking place here in Liverpool at the beginning of February. This will be jointly chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster. We would want to extend a warm welcome to all the participants during the two days that they are here in Liverpool. Practically it will mean one or two changes to our daily schedule of services on 1st and 2nd February. On Tuesday 1st February there will be a service of Midday Prayer at 12.30pm to mark the start of the Bishops conference which will be a public service in the main cathedral – this will mean that there will be no mass at 12.15pm in the Crypt that day. On Wednesday morning, the Feast of the Presentation there will be an earlier morning mass at 7am to cater for those on the Conference before their morning meetings. This will replace the 8am mass that day.
Canon Anthony O’Brien