Archives March 2008

a not-very-low-at-all Sunday: Quasimodo

It would appear that I am not the only one who had a good Low Sunday (or, as I have now learnt from Fr Phil: Quasimodo Sunday)

Fr. Kenny, a priest who appears to be about a million times more creative than myself, had a similarly uplifting Sunday with new worshippers, new hope, joyous and engaged music which left me uplifted and rewarded by all the good things God does in this place. I also liked the cartoon on his page: shortly to be appearing no doubt on a parish newsheet near you…

Fr Kenny

But I know you want to know: why is the first Sunday after Easter called Quasimodo Sunday? and also why the Hunchback of Notre Dame was named Quasimodo?

Yesterday: the first Sunday after Easter, is traditionally known, primarily in France and other parts of Europe, as “Quasimodo Sunday” because of the beginning words of the Introit which come from 1 Peter 2:2,3:

“Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo crescatis in salutem si gustastis quoniam dulcis Dominus”

which in English is:

“As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile, that thereby you may grow unto salvation: If so be you have tasted that the Lord is sweet.”

It is used in the context of this particular Sunday to refer to the newly baptized at Easter as well as applying generally to all of us.

Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame

“Sixteen years previous to the epoch when this story takes place, one fine morning, on Quasimodo Sunday, a living creature had been deposited, after mass, in the church of Notre- Dame, on the wooden bed securely fixed in the vestibule on the left, opposite that great image of Saint Christopher, which the figure of Messire Antoine des Essarts, chevalier, carved in stone, had been gazing at on his knees since 1413, when they took it into their heads to overthrow the saint and the faithful follower. Upon this bed of wood it was customary to expose foundlings for public charity. Whoever cared to take them did so. In front of the wooden bed was a copper basin for alms. The sort of living being which lay upon that plank on the morning of Quasimodo, in the year of the Lord, 1467, appeared to excite to a high degree, the curiosity of the numerous group which had congregated about the wooden bed.”

-4th Book, Chapter 1.
This week promises to be one of preparation, prayer and logistical nightmares. Off on Friday to the Children’s Pilgrimage where we will press buttons for the 7-11 year olds under the wonderfully wild and madcap Fr(s) Philip(s).

This will be this year’s First Visit video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuoUFIqfCKM

Written by Janet Marshall, of the Shrine OLW. Creative Commons: distribute freely.

If you are wondering about the technical details (and people often ask me), so here it is: It was filmed by myself and Emma using some four inch dolls which we stopframe animated with my Nikon D40 DSLR (and took over 1000 frames!) with a green screen background. We then imported the frames into Macromedia Flash which recognised the sequence and did the animation for us. I then used this footage in Vegas using Chromakey techniques to composite and mix the rest of the video and the audio which Emma recorded for me: a bit of chorus and flange to make my voice sound a bit angelic and mysterious and here we are. It worked on its test audience (my 8-year old daughter, Zoë) and so I hope it will work next weekend. It’s not as teaching as last year’s video which can be seen here.

I have a nightmare of a logistical problem with next week: a big load of kit to get there; Lou, Emma and Zoë don’t finish until Friday and it will be a push for them to get all the way to Norfolk for the 8pm start (and I bet all the other parishes will have the same problem), so Liam and I have to travel up late Thursday (or possibly the middle of the night Friday – breakfast in Norfolk methinks) to avoid traffic and then have the day to set up and rehearse. Before that, I have to get the Dog all the way to her lovely holiday home in Pulborough with Jeff, Jan and Toni which is an extra 80 mile round trip, but they are so kind to look after her for us. Kit to pack in the car, the paranoia of having forgotten the right (usually small) bit of kit – a vital wire or connector or not having the right software loaded. One missing microphone cable wouldn’t normally be a problem, but when you are thirty miles from the nearest Maplins… Now I know why I am an urban creature.

But now, as it is turned 9am I have the opportunity to phone and book my appointment with the Orthopaedic Consultant at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore to have my really painful shoulder looked at (finally).

UPDATE:

Grrrr. The RNOH may have a worldwide reputation for its surgery, but administratively it remains in the 1950’s. Lou did her ENB Orthopaedic Course there, so I do know it of old. They sent me a letter to say “phone for an appointment on Monday or Tuesday, BUT you must do this in one week of receiving this letter” (why not – call us at 11.27am on the 31st March 2008 and wear a pink carnation in your buttonhole.) However, when I do call this morning (and why am I calling? – I am in constant pain now) I am told that someone is off sick and I have to call tomorrow – why can’t ‘centralised booking’ take the booking? I am confused – it isn’t very centralised is it? So now I have missed Morning Prayer with my lovely Holy Dusters and I am sooooo annoyed that it was for nothing.


Doubting Thomas – Our Patron

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhj8cnk1_OM

As we are dedicated to the Apostle, who not only disbelieved, but then believed, and believed with one of the most profound declarations of Scripture:

“My Lord and My God”

(John 20:28)

Emma has been working on this animation, and I think it is really cute. You should also see her Stations of the Cross animation. She uses Macromedia Flash to create these, and then I titled it in Sony Vegas. Her ambition is to study and then work in Computer Animation. There is the National Centre for Computer Animation at Bournemouth University [where I grew up, ironically which is her aim. Go for it, girl: you’ll be great!


Proud to be a Geek

A moment for a little introspection and self-examination: forgive me this indulgence.

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Fr. North refers to be as “Father Geek”, and secretly, I suppose I quite enjoy it. During an episode of the excellent Bones I got into a conversation with Lou about why I was not ashamed to be a Geek, but would find “Nerd” to be unacceptable as a label.

I am ashamed to say that in trying to explain my perspective, I ended up resorting to drawing a diagram on my laptop to make my point.

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Both labels have an association with technology, but one I associate with social awkwardness (and I don’t think that’s me or my ENTJ Meyers-Brigg profile. In short: Geeks are cool, Nerds are not. I consider myself a Geek, although not as cool as I’d like to be – interested in cool things, not just technology for its own sake. I have never played Dungeons and Dragons, but (conversely) am quite good at 1980’s Arcade Games as played on the MAME emulator (and the real thing in my childhood). I consider myself smart, but not a genius (although I have this annoying habit of saying “I’m such a genius…” in relation to anything I do – I hope with a little irony – I suspect my IQ is well below MENSA level), a bit of a theological numpty and filled with psychological inadequacies; but of such paradoxes are God’s creations made. No diagram can fully encapsulate humanity (or even a subset of it) and the more I try, the more I am reminded of the beauty, wonder and diversity of God’s creation.

Note: I know this isn’t a proper Venn Diagram, nor it is properly a Euler Diagram, but a sort of unsatisfactory (and incomplete) hibrid: further proof of my lack of genius. Sorry.


Easter Vigil, 6am

After a busy day of expectant praying, and even more frantic church cleaning [How good and pleasant it is when the people of God work together in unity.’ (Psalm 133:1), we left the place in a lovely condition. It had been a powerful Good Friday – Children’s Stations based on the excellent What a Day! resource, Mother Margaret leading the adult stations based on the Walsingham intercessions and then my Meditation on the last words and the Liturgy of the Cross, including a very moving veneration, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYZqLMBsYCI as we came forward to kiss the cross and drape our red ribbons on the instrument of our salvation.

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The morning came too quickly, and we gathered at 6am to greet the risen Lord: Exsultet, Vigil Readings, Renewal of Baptismal Promises and a Joyous Mass of the Dawn celebrated with Champagne followed by the best breakfast I have ever enjoyed: bacon and sausage and danishes.

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It was a wonderful celebration, and even amidst our small and poor congregation, it felt like something special was happening. It was well worth getting up so early, and judging by the comments of the congregation, they felt that they had also done something worthwhile. Like with all things in faith, it was worth the extra effort.

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Zoë and Kristy admire the Easter nests

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Alison and Tony, Organist and Churchwarden get into the spirit(s) of Easter…

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The Sunday School Easter Garden

Other pictures at http://www.saintthomaselson.org.uk/parish/parish_news/record_of_events/easter_2008.html

We made the local newspaper! See the page for the clippings and also some scans of the comments book. I decided to scan the comments so that people could see that they were genuine, and not just spun by me. As you can see, wonderful response but such a pity that more people did not experience it.


Mattins for Holy Saturday

Versicle & Response
We pause for a moment in silence.

O Lord open our lips
and we shall praise your name

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. world without end. Amen.

1 Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise:
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways.

2 O loving wisdom of our God!
when all was sin and shame,
a second Adam to the fight
and to the rescue came.

3 O wisest love! that flesh and blood,
which did in Adam fail,
should strive afresh against the foe,
should strive and should prevail;

4 And that a higher gift than grace
should flesh and blood refine,
God’s presence and his very self,
and essence all-divine.

5 O generous love! that he, who smote
in Man for man the foe,
the double agony in Man
for man should undergo;

6 And in the garden secretly,
and on the Cross on high,
should teach his brethren, and inspire
to suffer and to die.

7 Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise:
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

Christ the Lord suffered for us and was buried. Come, let us adore him

Venite (Psalm 95)

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
hail the God who saves us.
Let us come before him giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord

A mighty God is the Lord,
a great king above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his.
To him belongs the sea for he made it,
and the dry land shaped by his hands.

Come in; let us bow and bend low;
let us kneel before the God who made us
for he is our God and we
the people that belong to his pasture,
the flock that is lead by his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test;
when they tried me, though they saw my work.

For forty years I was wearied of these people
and I said: “Their hearts are astray,
these people do not know my ways.”
Then I took an oath in my anger:
“Never shall they enter my rest.”‘

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. world without end. Amen.

Christ the Lord suffered for us and was buried. Come, let us adore him

They will mourn for him as for an only son, since he is the innocent one of the Lord who has been slain

Psalm 63 Exaudi, Deus

Hear my voice, O God, as I complain,
guard my life from dread of the foe.
Hide me from the band of the wicked,
from the throng of those who do evil.

They sharpen their tongues like swords;
they aim bitter words like arrows
to shoot at the innocent from ambush,
shooting suddenly and recklessly.

They scheme their evil course;
they conspire to lay secret snares.
They say: “Who will see us?
Who can search out our crimes?”

He will search who searches the mind
and knows the depths of the heart.
God has shot them with his arrow
and dealt them sudden wounds.
Their own tongue has brought them to ruin
and all who see them mock.

Then will all men fear;
they will tell what God has done.
They will understand God’s deeds.
The just will rejoice in the Lord
and fly to him for refuge.
All the upright hearts will glory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. world without end. Amen.

They will mourn for him as for an only son, since he is the innocent one of the Lord who has been slain

I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever and I hold the keys of death and of hell

Psalm 150 Laudate Dominum

Praise God in his holy place,
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his powerful deeds,
praise his surpassing greatness.

O praise him with sound of trumpet,
praise him with lute and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance,
praise him with strings and pipes.

O praise him with resounding cymbals,
praise him with clashing of cymbals.
Let everything that lives and that breathes
give praise to the Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall
be. world without end. Amen.

I was dead and now I am to live for ever and ever and I hold the keys of death and of hell

Scripture Reading

Hosea 6:1-3

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has hurt us but He will heal us. He has cut us but He will cover the sore. After two days He will give us new life. He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So keep on trying to know the Lord. His coming to us is as sure as the rising of the sun. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain giving water to the earth.”

There is no responsory on Holy Saturday

The Benedictus (Luke 1:67-79)

Save us, Saviour of the world. By the cross and the shedding of your blood you have redeemed us. Come to help us, Lord, our God

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel!
He has visited his people and redeemed them.

He has raised up for us a mighty saviour
in the house of David his servant,
as he promised by the lips of holy men,
those who were his prophets from of old.

A saviour who would free us from our foes,
from the hands of all who hate us.
So his love for our fathers is fulfilled
and his holy covenant remembered.

He swore to Abraham our father to grant us,
that free from fear,
and saved from the hands of our foes,
we might serve him in holiness and justice
all the days of our life in his presence.

As for you little child,
you shall be called a prophet of God,
the Most High.
You shall go ahead of the Lord
to prepare his ways before him,

To make known to his people their salvation
through forgiveness of all their sins,
the loving kindness of the heart of our God
who visits us like the dawn from on high.

He will give light to those in darkness,
those who dwell in the shadow of death,
and guide us into the way of peace.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. world without end. Amen.

Save us, Saviour of the world. By the cross and the shedding of your blood you have redeemed us. Come to help us, Lord, our God

Intercessions

We pray openly and together for the needs of the world, our local concerns and the needs of those known to us

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Collect

Almighty, ever-living God
whose Only-begotten Son descended to the realm of the
dead, and rose from there to glory,
grant that your faithful people,
who were buried with him in baptism
may, by his resurrection, obtain eternal life.
We make our prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
ever one God, world without end.
Amen

Blessing & Dismissal

The Lord be with you.
And also with you

May Almighty God bless us, the +Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Amen

Go in the peace of Christ
Thanks be to God.

…and then LET THE CLEANING BEGIN!

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Meditation for Good Friday: the Final Seven Words of Jesus

Opening Hymn: There is a green hill, in a faraway country

Verse 1
There is a green hill in a faraway country,
It stands near a city, outside a wall,
Where Jesus our Saviour, the King of all glory
Suffered and died to save us all.

Verse 2
I may not know of the pain of His passion,
But I believe that in my place he stood:
That I may know freedom and live in forgiveness,
For I am redeemed by His great love.

Chorus
There was no other good enough
Willing to pay the price of sin
For he was the only one who could reach out
And unlock the gates of heav’n to let us in.

Verse 3
So very dearly Jesus has loved us,
And all he would ask is that we love him too,
And trust him for all that this life lays before us,
That we would try His work to do.

Chorus
There was no other good enough
Willing to pay the price of sin
For he was the only one who could reach out
And unlock the gates of heav’n to let us in.
1. “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23: 34) (1:07)

Forgiveness is terribly easy to ask from others, and yet so very hard to give from ourselves. As Our Lord was nailed to the instrument of his passion, he spoke asking the Father’s forgiveness, whilst he freely forgave them himself, for as St. John repeatedly notes: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me”.

Forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel: at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, Christ calls for repentance, metanoia to herald the Kingdom of God. His whole ministry is to seek to reconcile God and his creation once more, and the route to that reconciliation is forgiveness: The woman accused of adultery was told “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11), the paralysed man lowered through the roof told that “his sins were forgiven” (Mark 2:5), and the woman who anointed Our Lord’s feet was given the same dispensation (Luke 7:48): “your sins are forgiven”: simple words, such power, such authority.

We pray that we too may be forgiven, for our manifold sins. Forgiveness is part of God’s grace and is freely given, if we but have the courage to ask for it.

We pray that we may also forgive: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. It is not only those who bear hammer and nails against us whom we need to forgive; but those whose offenses are in comparison, quite small. “How many times should I forgive my brother, Lord? Seven times?” “Not seven, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).

“They know not what they do” … and neither do we.

(Silence)

2. “I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:34) (1:14)

The penitent thief is the only person recorded in the Scriptures who speaks directly to Christ, addressing him by his own name. Not Rabbi, not Master, not Lord, but simply and directly: Jesus.

Such honesty was not bourne out of overfamiliarity, or rudeness, but out of a common bond between them: the bond of the condemned cell. Our Lord and these thieves shared an intimacy which we can only hope to aspire to: to be alongside Christ, and more importantly, to have Christ alongside us in our hour of need.

When we glance away from our own crucifixion, we may just be able to glimpse Christ crucified alongside us; suffering as we suffer, suffering greater as he suffers not only our pain and anguish, but the pain, anguish and bitterness of the whole world. And we hope to hear those words, available to all who have the courage to ask of Christ: “You will be with me in paradise”

We pray for the faith to spot Christ alongside us, especially when we are so wrapped up in our own crucifixion to notice His; and we pray that we may have the opportunity, no matter how fleeting or transitory, to experience the intimacy of Christ: to feel his love and concern, to allow his Grace to guide us to our heavenly home.

(Silence)

3. “Woman, behold your son.” (John 19: 26) (1:21)

Theotokos – “God Bearer”: Our Lady carried such responsibility; in her womb, in her upbringing of the Saviour of the World, in her faithful following of her Son’s ministry from that first sign at Cana in Galillee (John 2) to the foot of the Cross and to the Garden early that Sunday. It was a responsibility which would be almost impossible for any human to carry alone, but for God’s grace. The same Grace which removed the stain of Original Sin from Our Lady is the same Grace which redeems us all, and all we have to do is to accept that Grace from God: “be it done unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38)

We give honour to Our Lady because she is a model for us of humankind’s response to God in faith. So often we find our own faith obstructed by practicalities and earthly considerations: other things to do or say and God’s call to us buried amid the hubbub of daily life and work. Our Lady’s response was to say yes to God without thought or consideration or reference to earthly concerns – a miraculous child born of an unmarried girl far away from home. For this faith, Our Lady is rewarded with a further task: as the beloved disciple is commended to her, so we are commended to her care and her intercession, for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

We pray alongside Our Lady, our adoptive mother to God, asking her intercession for those things in our lives which need the Grace of God to help us through: the sicknesses, the anxieties, the worldly concerns.

We pray that our response may also be “be it done unto me according to thy word”.

(Silence)

4. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27: 46) (1:28)

There is a dark night that the soul must endure, before it reaches it’s goal – to be with God. On that journey as described by St. John of the Cross, there will be times when one might be forgiven for feeling forsaken by God.

Psalm 22, which Our Lord recalls, speaks of desolation and isolation, but if we focus only on the first half of the Psalm, we lose to context of Christ’s quotation: Christ spoke in an age when the Scriptures were identified by their opening lines: we begin with “Our Father…” and we know the rest of the prayer, Our Lord said “Eloi, Eloi…” and the faithful would recall the whole Psalm. The second and longer part of the Psalm speaks of faith and redemption, of Grace and fulfilment.

For each dark night, there is a brilliant day which follows it.

Even with the sins of the world on his back, Our Lord was not deserted by God, for he carried the promise of hope and fulfilment with him.

In our darkest nights, we pray that we too may be able to recall that promise, that redemption, that Grace. We pray that others whom we see ensnared by despair may be able to complete their Psalm, and see the joy which comes in the morning.

We pray for the dawn from on high, to sustain us through our dark night, until at last we achieve our soul’s perfection.

(Silence)

5. “I thirst.” (John 19: 28) (1:35)

We are driven by our own concerns and needs, our self-centeredness and our conceit; yet the call of the Christian is to emulate the selfless love of Our Saviour as he hung on the tree. Christ’s humanity and his divinity are exposed on the cross, and the vulnerability of He who moved over the waters was displayed for all to see.

Christ’s thirst was not only physical, but was a thirst for our redemption; a desire so compelling that he would accept the cup ordained for him by his Father.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6)

What do we thirst for? Our own needs? Our petty desires? Or do we thirst for Christ, as the deer pants for the water (Psalm 42:1).

We pray for those who are persecuted for their faith or their convictions. We pray that we may receive the Grace to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

(Silence)

6. “It is completed.” (John 19: 30) (1:42)

The last words of Christ were not words of resignation or defeat, but a shout of triumph to cut through the pain and desolation. Christ did not whimper “I am finished”, but proclaimed to the dark sky and the shaking earth the news that death had been conquered, Adam’s had been repaid and humankind would be released: “it is completed!”

“Now Lord, you let your servant depart in peace” (Luke 2:29) was Simeon’s prayer, knowing that what was promised to him had been completed. Too often, we are impatient, and look for the quick fix, the easy way out, the short cut, and thus prevent Our Lord from completing his task within us. We are works in progress, drafts on the potter’s wheel; we are shaped and formed by our loving creator and it is only by his act on the cross that we are complete.

We pray for the Grace given freely to Simeon, to accept with faith the promises God makes to us, for the perseverance to see our calling through to its proper conclusion.

(Silence)

7. “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” (Luke 23: 46) (1:49)

With these words, the divine word returns back to the one who sent him. His redeeming work complete, the atonement fulfilled. By pouring himself out for us (Philippians 2:5-11), he shows us the supreme self-sacrificing love for us of the Creator. With these final words he died, and the servant suffered for the last time.

What follows is silence.

(Silence)

At the end of our lives, it will only be by God’s Grace that we can commend our souls to him. It is a Grace freely given, fully won, completely atoned.

It is our salvation which calls us from the Cross.

(Silence)

Closing Hymn: Name above all Names

1    Name above all names,
the Saviour for sinners slain.
You suffered for my sake,
to bring me back home again.
When I was lost,
you poured your life out for me.
Name above all names,
Jesus, I love you.

2    Giver of mercy,
the fountain of life for me.
My spirit is lifted
to soar on the eagle’s wings.
What love is this
that fills my heart with treasure?
Name above all names,
Jesus, I love you.

3    High King eternal,
the one true and faithful God.
The beautiful Saviour,
still reigning in pow’r and love.
With all my heart
I’ll worship you for ever:
Name above all names,
Jesus, I love you.

Neil Bennetts
© 2000 Daybreak Music Ltd


A new hope…

I dunno what came over me really. Sorry, everyone. Thank you for your comments, your support, your prayers and your words of wisdom and insight.

Had a tough Maundy Thursday, but thanks to the coming together of the parish and the beauty of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper Liturgy, this dark day was transformed and we turn turn to the rest of the Triduum with renewed vigour.

I can be such an idiot sometimes…

In Control, the biopic of the life of Ian Curtis from Joy Division (the soundtrack to my adolescence), Curtis says about how he gives his all, and how much it takes it out of him. I have nowhere near his creativity, and only touch the edge of the creativity and wonder of the Creator, and yet there are echoes in that. Sorry. Sorted now.

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A Prayer before the Cross

Jesus was divine, but he did not cling to his equality with God, but emptied himself and became as we are and accepted death on the cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and that every tongue should proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Let us pray: let your blessing, O Lord, come down on us who have commemorated the death of your son in the hope of rising again with him. May we be aided by the prayers of the sorrowful Virgin Mary and grow in faith and in certainty of eternal redemption. We ask this through Christ the Lord. Amen.


Day Three: Multisensory Stations

Only three more hours to go, and frankly I have to admit I have been disappointed by the response to the Multisensory Stations. Every single person who has come to this has responded positively, been moved by the meditation, touched by the ritual and the symbol, and yet there were so few.

I sent loads of posters to my colleagues: diocese, deanery and ecumenical. There were articles in the Diocese Newspaper. I promoted it heavily during sermons in other parishes and amongst my closest colleagues.

…and less than thirty people have made this journey. Okay, so that is thirty people who have [I pray been given something this holy week to think on, and who have I hoped moved closer to the heart of God. But that is in 18 hours of manning this event, and goodness knows how much preparation time, this week is starting to look like a disaster.

Most of those who have come are from this parish, and that is a good thing. They have experienced something different, something challenging and something distinctive for Holy Week. I don’t think I’ll do any more of this stuff. It’s not working.

It’s all so easy to be blythe about the buzz of fresh expressions, of lying to ourselves about success and growth and the Gospel, and yet here in the midst of Holy Week, I find my Gethsemene, my low point, my experience of desertion. It’s not a good place to be in, I have to admit.


Stroke of Genius

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It’s not often I surprise even myself.

A visitor to the Stations this afternoon is quite deaf, and the headphones are therefore useless.

Solution: hook a player up to the loop and so she can go round the church plugged in that way!

So simple, and yet so effective. I can feel a little pleased with myself now.


Day One: Blesséd Multisensory Stations

It was a long day and a little frantic at the end to get ready and be open at 3pm. But we got there, and the multisensory stations was up and running. Over the first day 12 people came and walked the way of sorrows, and the feedback was very positive.

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I have taken some nice photographs and so when I am involved in today’s Stations (opens at 3pm until 9pm folks!), I will start people off more staggered, so there is no clashing of activities, which appeared to be the only hitch in the whole thing. Coffee and doughnuts were very well received and we had a visit from one to whom Jesus would reach out to: a young man clearly in need of a cup of coffee and a sane chat, and although he didn’t do more than one Station, we made an outreach to him. There is always a space for the bizarre, the outcast and the otherwise unwelcome, because in an echo of that bracelet – it’s what Jesus would do.

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Jo has given her permission for me to use this image

I hope and pray that word-of-mouth will start to catch this thing alight, and more people will come and experience it. It takes a lot not so much financially, (as MP3 players aside, it costs less that £50 to put on) but emotionally. If it brings one person closer to the heart of God, then it will be a worth it.

I plan to use the time between people to work on my seminars at the Lancing Weekend. The Liturgy is sort-of-sorted, and Jo at CJM has largely stamped her seal of approval on it. Only one or two major changes to go. It looks like there will be no extra video work done for the Children’s Pilgrimage as it is too close and too hemmed in by Holy Week to have anything special. Oh well, words will suffice; it will be fab anyway, as we all know how well Fr North puts on a children’s show. This means I can worry more about what I have to say to anglocatholic clergy. The executive summary is this: you can do mission, you can be creative and we have the best story ever to share using the best visual aids possible: the mass. All this technology is only a tool for bringing that mass into their midst in a context which speaks to them. The rest, well, the rest is just icing on the cake.

The best bits of Blesséd, like the best bits of these Stations are not what you hear or see, but what you experience: touch, smell, feel and engage with. Every priest, every evangelist, every youth worker in the country can do that. My task is to remind them that they posess in their midst the greatest of evangelistic tools, a unique resource with which they are already intimate with: the Mass, and they as the ikon of Christ are the medium for that message, and it is around that that commnity is formed. Any faith community which does not break bread together cannot be said to be an authentic Christian Community.

You can communicate this powerful truth, you can make in real and present in new, exciting and challenging contexts and the eucharistic heart of the Gospel will shine out and bring others into a sacred encounter.