Easter Triduum 2013 - Christ Is Risen

By Unknown on 13:23

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At the Easter Vigil on the sanctuary at Westminster Cathedral, Father Alexander a priest, comes before the Archbishop and announces 

Most Reverend Father
I bring you a message of great joy
Christ is risen

In his reply, Archbishop Vincent Nichols spoke of  this Easter Vigil as a celebration of light and life, a triumph of light over darkness and of life over death. That in celebrating these truths and taking them to heart will every moment of our lives be transformed.

He then referred to the night's liturgy which placed the truth into its boldest context and invited us to grasp the deepest meaning of the triumph of our Risen Christ, the triumph over evil.

Reflecting on the beginning of the ceremony when the Paschal candle was lit Archbishop Nichols explained that the Paschal Candle symbolised Christ as the Light of the world, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning of all things and it's end, The one to Whom all time belongs. He went on to say that nothing was beyond the reach of the victory won for us in the flesh and blood of Christ. That as St Paul had written, that when Christ died, He died once and for all to sin so we may have new life, so we could live free from the slavery of sin. 

Drawing on the recent words of Pope Francis, he focussed our thoughts on the ills of today where the reality of sin manifests itself in the wounds inflicted on humanity, a world riddled with economic conflicts that hit the weakest, where man's  greed for money which could not be taken from this earth in any event, caused great suffering.  How indeed habits of mind and heart become actions often repeated. Thus the importance of the light of this night, the light of Christ, was a reminder to us that the victory of Christ over sin was always available to us and that  His mercy and healing were to be found in every mass, in every confession. Tonight too therefore, we thank God for the ministry of the church through which this mercy comes to us.

However there was too another aspect of which we should be aware this Holy Saturday and it was that in Christ reaching out to Adam to bring him out of the deepest pit into the glory of new light and life, we too as a result of this enjoy the grace of the redemption of our past. It was vital too to reflect that this peace was only possible through the work, life and light of Christ. While the world would make different demands on us in seeking full payment for our past, in God's world, a different economy was at work. One, in which the offer of a redemption of the past and a surety for the future was always available. Even the most deep-seated of all our burdens, that of sin which hung like a  millstone round our neck, Archbishop Vincent reassured the congregation,  will be struck and shattered by Christ. 

Thus as it was written all who are thirsty would come to him and listen and our souls will live.  It was not though without taking on a special task, that of witnessing for Christ and taking the lead again from  Pope Francis that we should be looking to the youth of today to  bring us joy of faith which itself must be lived with a young heart. Then having extended his Easter wishes to the congregation along with his  blessing, the Archbishop had his customary meeting with his flock at the steps of the Cathedral.

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Easter Triduum 2013 : Good Friday - A ransom paid

By Unknown on 11:35

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Antiphon : God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin

Consider the extreme cruelty suffered by Christ Jesus at the hands of his executioners. 

His inner garments adhered to his torn flesh. Yet they dragged them off him so violently that the skin came off with them. Those who sought His life used violence against him. And when extending his hands and feet upon the cross, they then proceeded to nail them to the wood so Jesus would die in anguish.  Each blow of the hammer was taken for each and every one of us and each minute of the three hours that Christ was held upright on the cross when under the weight of His body, those very wounds would bring further agony to our Lord, was every minute of additional suffering endured for us.

Consider then that it would not be for nothing if we turned our sorrows into something good. As Pope Francis himself said the cross was the way by which God had made his reply. In response to evil God's answer was Christ on the Cross. Thus the ' Cross of Christ ' which is  about love, mercy and forgiveness should encourage in us that the response to evil is to do good, the more than equal opposite of evil. The beautiful prayers, lamentations and meditations on this Good Friday should be a help to us to focus on how we respond to the sacrifice made which is an example to us. Christ died for us on Good Friday so the Good in this day is that love which the Father has shown to us through His Son. We can continue this good if we take up the Cross of Christ and do good ourselves. There is much that needs our attention not only in the world but in our own communities. Sad but it is still evident in the twenty first century that children are impoverished and going hungry, lacking opportunities which would give them a way forward in their lives while the homeless live on our streets.  

Christ came to die for us and once and for all, do away with sin by replacing evil with good. If Christ on the cross means something to us then we could turn the sadness into something good in doing something good and positive. The ransom has been paid.

Picture - The congregation at Westminster Cathedral join a queue to venerate the cross on Good Friday. With the numbers attending The Celebration of The Passion of the Lord, it would be nearly two hours before the next phase of the day's events, that of the Stations of the Cross would begin.

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Easter Triduum 2013 at Westminster Cathedral : Holy Thursday

By Unknown on 02:00

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A picture a day  -   A thought for each day

Said Christ to his apostles ( per Benedictus Antiphon ) 

- I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer

The story then taken up by St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians 11:23-26

This is what I received from the Lord and in turn passed on to you : that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, 

'This is my body, which is for you; do this in as a memorial of me.'

In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, 

'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.'

Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

The meal thus ended and having spoken one last time with his disciples, our Lord Jesus is taken away, willingly and without protest to fulfil his mission. as evening approaches then, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel lies empty, the altar stripped. Jesus is taken from our midst since to take us to our salvation, He would have to be taken this way. As great as the love of the Father is for the Son, great too is the love of the Father and of the Son for us. Great too is the price that has been paid for this love.

2013 : New Battle at Trafalgar

By Unknown on 15:36

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Braving freezing temperatures and in a first such gathering of it's kind, more than a thousand British and French supporters of marriage rallied at Trafalgar Square on Sunday 24 March to voice their concern at moves by their respective governments to redefine the concept of marriage. The rally organised by the French movement, La Manif Pour Tousin (March for All) was in response to plans to introduce same-sex 'marriage' which would further allow children to be adopted by homosexual couples in France mirrored one in Paris attended by one and a quarter million supporters of the cause. The rally in France was the second such meeting and it's attendance exceeded the previous turnout of a million on the Champs Elysees.

At Trafalgar Square, led by speakers from both sides of the channel amongst them, the movement's co-ordinator Damien Fournier Montgieux, Alain Craig and Chris Sugden, those gathered chanted ' Vive le Marriage ' while congregated around Nelson's Column, easily out voicing the near one hundred pro-equality supporters whose intent was to disrupt the peaceful proceedings. 

As offered by Alain Craig, the intention of the movement was not to dismiss the rights of the same-sex community, instead it was a stand at protecting and preserving the institution of marriage.

The occasion saw supporters across several generations, many of whom were children who while brought by their parents nevertheless gave food for thought with the clear messages on the placards held aloft at the rally. Children too have their rights as nature intended. Strange indeed that the pro-equality protesters failed to recognise this though in these days of an increasingly secular world, it's more a case of ' that which I want ' than that which would be good for others which has been tested by time and should remain.

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O Sacred Head Ill-Used by Bach, The Vaughan and in style

By Unknown on 19:07

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If you should not be familiar with the St Matthew Passion and while a lover of classical and choral compositions I too must shamefully admit to having neglected investigation of this  most sacred of works,  you will like me, at least certainly recognise one of it's more widely-known chorale, " Erkenne Mich, Mein Huter " which is sung approximately midway through the first half of this two-part oratorio  set to music by Bach nearly three centuries ago. The work, based on chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of St Matthew plays a timely role in helping to usher in Holy Week this year.

The choirs associated with The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School are no strangers to great choral works, having an illustrated history of performances, recordings and concert tours. Indeed just after the Easter Triduum in the coming week, the Schola Cantorum embark on a tour of Poland which promises to be a splendid musical journey even if it does result in the Easter holidays of the choir members and staff being shortened to two weeks.

For this Tuesday though at St James' Roman Catholic Church Spanish Place, along with soloists Nicholas Mulroy and Nicholas Warden, singing the parts of Matthew and Christ respectively and companied by the Belgravia Chamber Orchestra, the entire ensemble under the direction of  Scott Price the Vaughan's music director, the school choir treated the assembled audience to music-making and singing of the finest calibre, bringing the music of Bach to an appreciative audience and on this most appropriate of times on the calendar. CVMS Music as home to the Schola Cantorum, the choir of The Vaughan and the school's own sixth form choir has to be one of the great choir schools of our time. Indeed, any time.

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Very Typically Vincent

By Unknown on 18:50

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Last Thursday evening, at the close of a special thanksgiving mass for the election of Pope Francis 1, Archbishop Vincent Nichols met with members of his congregation as they made their way home having attended Westminster Cathedral.

Not for the first time has Archbishop Vincent meet with and warmly greet his flock. Just as on every procession at the conclusion of each mass that he says, the gathered have a feeling of being specially connected with him when he blesses them while walking by.

" Feed My Lambs...... Look after My sheep " ( John 21:16-17)

Man of the people and for the people. I think too someone who himself, is very specially connected.