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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 24th April 2020 Posted on Friday 24 April 2020

Third Sunday of Easter
On the Third Sunday of Easter we hear the wonderful account of Christ’s appearance to the two the disciples on the road to Emmaus. St Mark in his Gospel refers to the appearance of the Risen Lord to the two disciples on their way into the country but it is in St Luke’s Gospel that we hear the incident described in detail and it is this which is the focus of the Word of God for this Sunday. The details of the account are so relevant for us today as Disciples of the Lord. So often we don’t realise it but Jesus is walking by our side along the way of our lives, accompanying us on the journey. Even at times like this when we feel a physical distance from the sacraments Christ walks with us. He still feeds us with his word if we allow it to speak to our hearts and give direction to our lives. ‘Absence can make the heart grow fonder’ – as we are all feeling apart from one another for the celebration of the Eucharist during this time, it has in a strange way, made many realise even more how vital this is to us all as Catholics to be able to meet the Lord in the ‘Breaking of Bread’ and be nourished by his Risen Presence.

The ringing of the Cathedral Bells each Thursday as a gesture of thanks to all those working in the NHS and all those caring in the community has been warmly welcomed and received by all. There were even about 50,000 people tuned in to hear them online. Some of the most astute of you noticed that the largest bell, Matthew, wasn’t sounding for the first two weeks. In fact he has been reluctant to ring since the start of the pandemic. People were asking whether he was self- isolating being the most senior bell or whether he had been furloughed under the government scheme. The truth is that he has a tendency to slip off his chain when the going gets tough, however he is working again being brought out of isolation, but who knows how long this will last. We are in the fortunate position to have electronically operated bells unlike Liverpool Cathedral that have to have a team of bell ringers to operate theirs, which is not possible with the present restrictions – our bells are rung on behalf of our two Cathedrals each Thursday evening.

As this period of isolation continues I think we are all having ups and downs. Periods when we have enjoyed the change of pace, and times when our moods have dipped and we long to get back to normal, finding the isolation a real challenge, when we need to hear another voice or see a friendly smiling familiar face. For the first few weeks I was feeling that maybe I was being called to be a hermit or a monk as I seemed to be coping so well, and now I am longing to get back to normal parish activities. I am trying to stop getting bothered about issues that don’t matter. For instance that it is always going to take me at least three days to finish the giant Saturday crossword in the newspaper. That even though the roads are empty you still have to move over for all the cyclists riding along the pavement. That it’s best to realise that the dried pasta shelf will still be empty. That as I notice the change in people’s appearance over this time, I should be grateful that I hardly have any hair!

May we continue to pray for one another each day and particularly for those who are ill or in need at this time.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean