Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our celebration of the Easter liturgies. Have a blessed Eastertide.
Prayer & Pain is a research project being conducted by Yale University, USA. If you suffer from chronic pain and use prayer to help you cope, and if you would be willing to share your experiences, please complete the online questionnaire at https://redcap.partners.org/redcap/surveys/index.php?s=E7YEH498NJ
Today’s Mass begins with Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem. The crowd are shouting ‘Hosanna!’ And yet, a few days later, the same crowd are shouting ‘Crucify him!’ What has changed? Mark tells us that the chief priests incited the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. It’s easy to whip up a crowd into an angry mob – not so easy to control the mob’s lust for blood. Even Pontius Pilate, with an army under his command, is afraid of the crowd. He releases Barabbas – guilty of murder – and hands Jesus over to be crucified, knowing him to be innocent. The soldiers make fun of Jesus and the passers-by jeer at him. Even the robbers being crucified with him join in with the mockery.
It’s a scene that has been repeated many times, throughout history; a crowd ganging up on a helpless victim. Everyone joins in, for fear that they could be the next target. But this time, it is different. At the moment of his death, Jesus cries out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ These are the words of a Psalm – a prayer of hope and trust in God. With his last breath, Jesus is calling on his Father to witness his suffering, and expressing his trust in the Father’s plan. He knows that God has not forsaken him.
The times of liturgies during Holy Week will be as follows:
Mass of the Lord’s Supper; Thursday 1st April at 7.00pm
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion; Friday 2nd April at 3.00pm
Easter Vigil; Saturday 3rd April at 8.00pm
Easter Sunday Mass; 4th April at 10.00am
(No Evening Mass on Easter Sunday).
All of the services are now fully booked.
All of these liturgies will be live streamed on St Cuthbert’s YouTube channel.
The Diocesan Chrism Mass will be celebrated at St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle at 11am on Holy Thursday. At this celebration, the Holy Oils are blessed, and the priests and deacons of the diocese renew their commitment to service. Attendance at this year’s Chrism Mass is by invitation only, due to Covid restrictions, but you can watch a live stream on the Cathedral’s YouTube channel.
Thank you to the anonymous donor who contributed to the cost of upgrading the church sound system, so that we can live-stream the singing of a cantor group or choir. You will hear the results in the Holy Week liturgies.
The Diocese of Middlesbrough has set up a system to allow people who do not have internet access to listen to Mass over the telephone. This service can be accessed by calling 01642 130120.
We are coming closer to Easter. Today’s Gospel finds Jesus in Jerusalem. The authorities are already plotting to kill him. Jesus knows that he has only a few days to live, and knows that he will face a horrible death on the Cross. But he will not be dragged to his death; he goes willingly. The parable of the wheat grain that has to fall to the ground and die, so that it can bear fruit, shows us that Jesus accepts it all as part of the plan of God the Father. His prayer – ‘Father, glorify your name!’ – and the voice of the Father, coming from heaven in response, show us the perfect unity between Father and Son. Jesus’ death will bring glory to his Father, and it will bring hope for us; ‘When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.’
Jesus also says, ‘Wherever I am, my servant will be there too.’ Where do we see Jesus? We see him curing the sick and forgiving sinners. We see him among the poor and the outcasts. We see him, in the end, lifted up on the Cross. If we want to be his disciples, we have to be ready to let go of the things of the world – even of life itself. It’s a challenging teaching. But the reward that the Lord promises us is eternal life with him.
On Tuesday 23rd March, the first anniversary of lockdown. Mass will be celebrated at St Cuthbert’s at 12.15pm, and the church will be open for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament from 7-8pm. Bishop Robert will celebrate Mass at 7.00pm for those who have suffered from Covid: www.stmaryscathedral.org.uk
The repose of the soul of Fr Ronnie Richmond, Curate at St Cuthbert’s 1967-74, who died recently. His Requiem Mass will be celebrated on Monday 22nd March at St Joseph’s, Murton. It will not be possible to attend the Requiem Mass, but it will be live streamed via Facebook – ‘Fr Marc Lyden-Smith Parish Page.’
Here is the link to the page https://www.facebook.com/frmarclydensmith
British Summer Time begins Sunday 28th March. Clocks go forward one hour at 2.00am next Sunday – don’t forget!
A message from the Chief Executive of St Cuthbert’s Care:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kindness throughout the pandemic – it has been truly heart-warming. Parish support makes all the difference, allowing us to go that extra mile in ensuring we provide outstanding care and peace of mind to families and loved ones. If you are able to do so, please may I ask that you consider supporting our work once more. Thank you.
For information and donations, see https://www.stcuthbertscare.org.uk/
Easter Eggs, cards and gifts available from https://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/
The Maryvale Institute is offering a free, virtual conference that will focus on the new Directory for Catechesis. The Directory, published in March 2020, makes clear the essential elements in teaching and personal formation required by the mission of catechesis. For more info please visit: https://www.maryvale.ac.uk/conference-2021.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A series of webinars hosted by the Centre for Applied Theology, tackling difficult issues from the perspective of Orthodox Christianity. This week: Human Sexuality. Monday 22nd March at 7.00pm. To register and receive the Zoom link, email: email@example.com
Our Lenten Stations of the Cross continues this Friday at 6:30pm on Zoom. Joining details can be found in the St Cuthbert’s Parish Community Facebook Group or by contacting Andy Doyle (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0798 543 4185).
If you would like to lead Stations on one of the Fridays of Lent (excluding Good Friday), get in touch with Andy.
If you’re not able to join us on Zoom on Fridays, there’s a recorded version of the Stations, with readings and meditations based on the Gospel of Mark, on our YouTube channel.
Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, an important leader and teacher in Israel. He came to Jesus in secret, at dead of night. Jesus was already suspected as a troublemaker, and it wouldn’t be wise for Nicodemus to be seen with him. And yet, Nicodemus could see that Jesus had come from God. He wanted to meet him and find out more – but not in public.
Jesus challenges Nicodemus. Why is he creeping around in the dark? The things that we do under cover of darkness are the things that we are ashamed of. The person who lives by the truth is not afraid to come out into the light and be seen.
Jesus himself was never afraid to be seen. We saw this in last Sunday’s Gospel, when he fearlessly drove the sellers and moneychangers out of the Temple. Jesus openly challenged the leaders of the people, cured the sick and welcomed sinners. It was almost inevitable that he would fall foul of the authorities, and in the end would die a shameful death on the Cross. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus foretells that those who believe in him will have eternal life through his sacrifice. God has sent his Son into the world to save us from our sins. Jesus will be lifted up on the Cross, not as a symbol of shame, but of hope. When the time came, Nicodemus would be there to help bury Jesus’ body. Through meeting Jesus, he had come to believe in him. Lent is the time for us to encounter Jesus again, and to renew our faith.
Trinity, Regiratio, and Mind by Dr Rik Van Nieuwehnove (Durham University.) Thursday 18th March at 5pm, online. See Centre for Catholic Studies webpage for details and registration.
From Lamentation to praise; a journey with the Psalms: An online event offered by the team at Minsteracres Retreat Centre. Saturday 20th March, 10:30am-3:30pm. This event will be delivered via Zoom and will be an opportunity to step aside and listen to God in Scripture as we journey towards Easter. Suggested donation: £10. See www.minsteracres.org for booking.
Today’s Gospel reading shocks us. What happened to ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild?’ Today, we see Jesus full of anger. The explanation, perhaps, lies in the words of the Psalm that are quoted by John: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Temple in Jerusalem was God’s house; the sacred place where every Jew, rich or poor, could come to worship God. But when Jesus came to the Temple, he saw that before they were allowed to offer their sacrifice, worshippers had to buy animals from the sellers in the Temple precincts. They paid for the sacrificial animals by changing their hard-earned money for Temple coins. Money was being made from the people’s faith.
We should read the story with close attention. Jesus is angry at the injustice being done to his people, and at the disrespect shown to his Father’s house. But John doesn’t tell us that Jesus raises his fist or hurts anyone, though he turns the tables over and drives out the animals. We should remember, too, that Jesus did not use his power as Son of God to defend himself when the soldiers came to arrest him. Violence was never his way.
Jesus foretold that the sanctuary of his body would be destroyed. On the Cross, he suffered the cruellest death that we can imagine, and instead of using violence, he prayed, ‘Father, forgive them.’