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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 24th January 2021 Posted on Saturday 23 January 2021

Week of Christian Unity

Each year in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity our two Cathedrals would take part in a joint Choral Service of shared prayer and worship. This year it has only been possible to piece together a service from elements that were videoed separately within our two buildings. This service involving choirs and ministers from both Cathedrals will be streamed and available from this Sunday afternoon. I enclose below the short article written for the Cathedral Record in the Catholic Pictorial – which at present is only available online.

With the number of positive cases on the rise there is a mixed picture across the Diocese regarding the churches that are able to remain open and continue with the public celebration of Mass. Here at the Cathedral we are in a fortunate position that we have such a large capacity space and the staff and volunteers to enable continued public worship for as long as is permissible. However we are at present wondering how we can safely celebrate Ash Wednesday (17th February) with some liturgical act to mark the start of Lent. Hopefully, we will receive some directive regarding the distribution of Ashes – I guess that it will probably involve some form of self- administering. No doubt great health and safety minds will be liaising with liturgists as I write to come up with clear directives for us all.

It is almost a year since the first incidents of the virus began to spread in parts of this country. By the end of Lent last year we were in the first restrictive period of lockdown with just a few parishes that were able to offer a live streamed service to people at home. It is remarkable how we have now grown used to online services and using digital media for worship, talks and meetings. Some see this as a significant part of the future life of the church, I feel more comfortable seeing it as a facility that we can use in a limited way when we feel it is appropriate or necessary.

As we look ahead here at the Cathedral preparing for Holy Week I am hoping that we will be able to have some form of public services during this week. With social distancing and safety measures it will be difficult enough celebrating the solemn liturgies with the meaning and dignity that they require. It is even more difficult to recreate something of the full beauty and significance of this week online however effectively we stream.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean