The Passion and the Arts

Churches Together in Elvet & Shincliffe invite you to explore “The Passion and the Arts” on three Tuesdays in Lent. The last session is on 15 March, focusing on Music; it will be hosted at St Cuthbert’s, starting at 7:30pm. All are welcome and light refreshments will be provided.

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini

As we come to the fourth Sunday of Lent, change is coming. We look up from our penitential practice, to the horizon. Rose-coloured vestments suggest the dawning light of the Easter morning. We sing benedictus qui venit… (blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord) with a fresh anticipation. Though Lent is not over — we have three weeks yet! — we have made it halfway. If we have not been as disciplined as we had hoped, here is an opportunity to make a fresh start. With the Lord, it is never too little, too late.

Just as the father received back his son, the one who had squandered everything and debased himself; just as the father welcomed and forgave the older son who sulked, so also he holds his arms open to us. Whatever we have done or failed to do this Lent, now we can put it behind us and, even in the midst of Lent, try again. Now, as ever, we depend not on our own merits, but on God’s abundant mercy. He waits for us, with a patience that is unimaginable.

As we return to him, as we are called to do especially in Lent, we begin to receive the joy that will be ours on Easter morning. So let us unite ourselves to the one ‘who comes in the name of the Lord’ now in our penitence, that come Easter we may be found in him, rejoicing.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

Heaven and earth are full of your glory

The glory of God might seem an odd topic for reflection during Lent. After all, we omit the Gloria at Mass, and we direct our attention to the Lord’s temptation and his passion. But the Sanctus reminds us, week by week — even during Lent — that ‘heaven and earth are full of [God’s] glory’. We don’t always recognize that glory: it is hidden. As John’s gospel tells us: ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father’ (1.14). Jesus makes God known to us; all the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell—hidden—in Christ. Peter, James and John glimpsed that glory at the transfiguration of the Lord. They learned to see in Jesus, even after his brightness subsided, the radiance of divine glory. So also we learn to see the world differently as the eyes of our hearts are trained by faith: to see Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, for example; or to see his face in the faces of the poor and the marginalized.

Learning to see in this way does not give way to full vision, however. The mystery of God’s presence in the world is like the mystery of the Incarnation itself. How does God become human without eliminating or overriding the human? The Old Testament reading from today gives us a way in to contemplating the mystery: Moses encounters a bush that burns, but is not consumed. So also God’s presence with us and in us throughout creation enlivens and enlightens us, but does not consume us. Only that which is incompatible with God’s presence (that is, sin) cannot survive the coming of the Lord. The flame of God’s holiness burns in us—as in the burning bush—but all it consumes is sin.

As we sing ‘pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua’ (‘heaven and earth are full of your glory’), let’s remember that ‘caeli et terra’ includes us. We strive for holiness in the hope that the glory of God may one day be revealed in us as well.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

RCIA Open Session – Social Living

AnnaRowlandsThis year’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) programme for those exploring the Catholic faith is nearing its conclusion, and some of the last few sessions are being opened to a wider audience. All are welcome to join the group in the Parish Room on Thursday 10 March at 7:00pm when Dr Anna Rowlands of the University’s Centre for Catholic Studies will speak on A Catholic understanding of social living.

Ushaw Mass and Lecture: Monarchy and Catholics in Britain

MonarcyAndCatholicsProf. Philip Williamson will deliver an Ushaw Lecture Monarchy and Catholics in Britain, 1689-2012 on Wednesday 9 March. Prof. Williamson is Professor of Modern British History and Durham, and is a historian of twentieth-century British politics, political culture and government.

5.30pm for drinks; lecture 6:00pm-7.30pm

Venue: Ushaw College, Exhibition Lecture Theatre

The Lecture will be preceded by a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Centre for Catholic Studies at 5pm in St Cuthbert’s Chapel.

If you wish to attend the lecture and/or Mass you must register with Dr Hannah Thomas on or Jane Lidstone on 0191 334 1656, indicating whether you are coming to the lecture, the Mass, or both. If you need help with transport to and from Ushaw College, please mention this when booking.

Data Analyst/Manager sought

Forward Together in HopeThe Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle seeks to appoint a Data Analyst/Manager on a Fixed Term Contract ending 30 June 2016.

A temporary Data Analyst/Manager, full or part-time, is required to analyse quantitative and qualitative data from a range of questionnaires arising from the Forward Together in Hope project, summarise findings and produce high quality written reports.

The successful candidate will have a relevant degree and/or equivalent experience in the management of quantitative and qualitative data and the ability to analyse and interpret data to support the development of a qualitative narrative to inform future planning for the Diocese.

Strong problem-solving skills and excellent IT skills including in-depth knowledge of Excel and data quantitative analysis software are essential. A post-graduate qualification in a relevant discipline (e.g. Social Sciences) would be an advantage.

The post-holder must be conscientious and loyal to the aims and objectives of the Diocese, having regard at all times to its Catholic character.

Salary: £22,603 (FTE) per annum rising to £23,010 on 1 April – or pro rata

Hours: Up to 37.5 per week– part-time hours will be considered. Normally between 8.30am – 4.30pm

Further information is available on the Diocesan website or contact Tony Sacco for an informal chat on 0191 243 3304.

To apply, please forward your CV, along with two referees and a covering letter to Please include detail of the time commitment you can make.

Jubilee Vespers at Westminster Cathedral

JubileeLogo2016 is the year when the Dominican Order celebrates 800 years since its foundation. There are various events happening throughout the year to mark this anniversary, but our big celebration event, which will gather together all parts of the Order in Britain, and their friends and supporters, will be held at Westminster Cathedral in London on Friday 29 April (Feast of St Catherine of Siena) at 2.30pm.

We would like to welcome as many members of Dominican parishes and chaplaincies as possible to join us for this celebration, which will take the form of a Solemn Vespers with Cardinal Nichols; Most Rev. Malcolm McMahon OP (Archbishop of Liverpool and our Metropolitan) will preach, and we will be joined by Dominican sisters, Lay Dominicans, schools with Dominican connections and many friends and family. Durham alumnus Sir James MacMillan has composed an antiphon especially for this occasion and it will be sung by the Cathedral Choir.

If you would like to come, please could you sign up by Sunday 28 February on the sheet provided at the back of church, giving your full name, address and email address; alternatively e-mail these details to Ciara Herbert (Chaplaincy/Parish Secretary) on

Book Launch: The Lost Knowledge of Christ

LostKnowledgeOfChristThe Centre for Catholic Studies and the Catholic Chaplaincy are pleased to host the Durham launch of The Lost Knowledge of Christ: Contemporary Spiritualities, Christian Cosmology and the Arts by fr. Dominic White OP of St Dominic’s, Newcastle, and Catholic Chaplain to Newcastle and Northumbria Universities on Tuesday 1 March.

5:00pm for drinks; Vespers at 6:15pm

Venue: St Cuthbert’s Parish Room, Old Elvet

A group will share a meal afterwards at a local restaurant.

All are welcome to attend. Please email Jane Lidstone on or call 0191 334 1656 if you wish to attend, noting whether or not you wish to dine afterwards.

Lay Dominicans

The Newcastle/Durham Fraternity of Lay Dominicans will be meeting today, Sunday 21 February at 3:00pm. Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the Lay Dominicans is most welcome to come along. The main part of the meeting will be our Lenten Stations of the Cross composed by fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP.

The Holiness of the Lord

The scene that follows the announcement ‘holy, holy, holy’ is dramatic: ‘the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke’. Isaiah’s response is not worship, as we might expect. Instead, he exclaims, ‘Woe is me!’ Seeing the holiness of the Lord makes Isaiah aware of his own lack of holiness, and fearful: ‘a man of unclean lips’ should not (he thinks) behold ‘the King, the Lord of hosts’. God’s glory shows up all that is unworthy about us. Similarly Peter, in the gospel reading from a few weeks ago, responds to the miraculous catch of fish: ‘Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man’. Beholding the greatness of the Lord brings about a new, and unsettling, revelation of our own lack of sanctity. The response from on high is not judgement, however, but comfort. One of the seraphim brings a burning coal from the altar, touches Isaiah’s lips with it, and announces, ‘Behold…your guilt has been taken away, and your sin forgiven’. Likewise Jesus reassures Peter (in the same words the angel used to put Mary at ease): ‘Do not be afraid.’

Contemplating the holiness of God ought to make us mindful of the ways we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This is not the way into condemnation, though, but the door to forgiveness and new life. For both Isaiah and Peter, the recognition of his own unworthiness marks the beginning of a career (if we may call it that) in the service of God. Isaiah accepts the invitation to take God’s word to the people of Israel, and Peter becomes that rock on which the Church is built. Our own careers of discipleship may be less dramatic, but God nevertheless promises to draw us near and involve us in the real drama—the drama of our redemption and that of the whole world. We need not ask whether we are worthy; we need only allow God to make us so.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

Receiving Holy Communion

A request from the Parish Pastoral Council: if receiving Holy Communion, please approach the altar row by row, starting with the front row once the servers and choir have received. We hope this will make these moments before receiving the sacrament less “scrum-like” and more dignified and prayerful. Thank you for your co-operation!

RCIA Open Session – Moral Living

47cc8b81-6373-43c5-9456-c86a5c27df77This year’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) programme for those exploring the Catholic faith is nearing its conclusion, and some of the last few sessions are being opened to a wider audience. All are welcome to join the group in the Parish Room on Thursday 25 February at 7:00pm when fr. David will speak on A Catholic understanding of moral living.

Ushaw/CSTP Lecture: The Idea of Freedom

SenAs part of the Ushaw Lecture Series, a Catholic Social Thought and Practice Lecture will be delivered on The Idea of Freedom: Reading Amartya Sen from a Catholic Perspective on Thursday 25 February.

Speakers: Prof. Stuart Corbridge (Vice-Chancellor and Warden); Dr Séverine Deneuline (Universiyt of Bath), Dr Mark Hayes (St Hilda Reader in Catholic Social Thought and Practice, Durham) and Rev. Dr Augusto Zampini Davies (Theological Advisor, CAFOD).

5.30pm for drinks; lecture 6:00pm-7.30pm

Venue: Ushaw College, Exhibition Lecture Theatre

If you wish to attend the lecture you must register with Dr Hannah Thomas, or telephone Jane Lidstone on 0191 334 1656. If you need help with transport to and/or from Ushaw College, please mention this when booking.

College Mass – Hatfield

The first college Mass of term takes place at 7:00pm on Wednesday 24 February in the Chapel of Hatfield College (just next to the main college entrance on North Bailey).

All parishioners and University members are welcome and warmly invited to the Mass.

Because of the college Mass there will be no “holy half hour” of Vespers, exposition and confessions at St Cuthbert’s that Wednesday evening.

Calling the Diocese to Prayer

Bishop Séamus will lead Days of Prayer for Clergy and Laity, “Calling the Diocese to Prayer and to be Missionary Disciples” on Tuesday 23 February, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle and Thursday 25 February, at St Mary’s, Sunderland.

  • Reflection led by Bishop Séamus at 10:30am and 7:00pm
  • Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 11:15am and 7:45pm
  • Concelebrated Mass at 12:05pm and 8:30pm
All are welcome.

‘With angels and archangels’: the Sanctus

seraphDuring Lent, we direct our attention to the holiness of God more than at any other time of year. Not only that: we strive to imitate that holiness. One of the ways the Church has called the holiness of God to our minds comes from the sixth chapter of Isaiah: the prophet sees the seraphim, who call out to one another: ‘holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’

The acclamation has been a part of the Church’s liturgy since the early part of the fifth century, though it was probably in use from even earlier times. (The Benedictus qui venit… was attached to the acclamation very early, and in future weeks we will look more closely at it.) For example, St Augustine would recognize the Latin text we sing, although the traditional Gregorian plainchant would not have been familiar to him. (What we rightly consider ancient—dating from the 8th century and widespread by the 11th—had not yet been developed in Augustine’s day!)

It is not just the antiquity of the text that ought to inspire us, however. The inclusion of the Sanctus in the Roman canon in the 5th century brought in the idea ‘that by joining the angels in their song we participate in the heavenly liturgy’ (Enrico Mazza, The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite, p. 48). And this provides an important clue to the means by which we imitate the Lord’s holiness; by participation.

All our Lenten practices—prayer and giving, and giving up—do not work magic on their own. Rather, by them we join ourselves to the Lord’s suffering. It is his passion and death that worked for our salvation, and in his resurrection that we are raised to new life. So in all that we do this Lent, our aim is to make more space for our Lord, so that we can say with the apostle Paul, ‘it is no longer I who live, but he who lives in me.’ When we attend to the presence of God among us and in us, and we participate in him as he dwells in us, holiness will be ours as well.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe.

CAFOD Lent Fast Day is Friday 19 February


This Lent Fast Day, we have an opportunity to come together as a Catholic community to ensure girls living in the world’s poorest countries are free to change their lives by getting an education. CAFOD is working with local expert organisations around the world to bring water to family homes, so girls who used to spend hours collecting it every day, now have time for school, study and to play with their friends.

Fast Days are our opportunity to support that vital work. Collect your Fast Day envelope from church this week, and remember to fast on Lent Fast Day.

And there is very good news: the UK government has promised to match every pound and penny you give this Lent!

Please give as much as you can, so that more girls around the world are able to live lives free from the burden of the long walk for water.

For more information, see

Friars Preachers Newsletter

The latest edition of the “Friars Preachers” newsletter is being distributed with the bulletin at Masses on Sunday 14 February, full of news from Dominican Friars across the Province of England. Please do take a copy home with you to read at your leisure!

Durham Churches Together AGM

Durham Churches Together holds its Annual General Meeting at 7:00pm on Monday 22 February at Antioch House, Crossgate.The evening will include a talk by Peter MacLellan (of Durham County Council’s Humanitarian Committee) entitled, When you were a stranger: Durham County’s response to asylum seekers. All are welcome for the meeting and talk.

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