TO THE CLERGY OF THE EBBSFLEET EPISCOPAL AREA
As Lent begins, I want to send you all—all priests and deacons ministering in parishes under my oversight, and other priests affiliated to The Society—my prayers that this season will bring us all closer Christ and thus closer to one another in his body.
We’ve just completed the Candlemas celebrations, the CofE provision for which reminds us that Christ’s presentation as a sacrifice in the Temple points us directly to Good Friday. ‘We turn from the crib to the cross’ with the assurance that (as the Hebrews 4 reading of Candlemas second vespers says) our high priest is able to sympathize with our weaknesses – ‘he was tempted in every way just as we all are, yet without sin.’ No-one can say that Jesus speaks as a ‘foreigner’ to human experience. What lies between is Lent. May God bless you to take that journey and its fast as seriously as you can. During it let us all pray for one another, and for our service and shared witness in the Church of England, with a new intensity. And let us look forward to the opportunity and joy of celebrating together the Mass of Chrism on the brink of the Lord’s Passover.
It is with the Chrism Mass in mind that I write to invite you to join me at one of the three celebrations arranged around the Ebbsfleet episcopal area. All three celebrations take place, again, in cathedral churches, by the generous welcome of each cathedral Chapter.
at Exeter Cathedral, on Monday in Holy Week, 21 March at 2.00pm
at Bristol Cathedral, on Tuesday in Holy Week, 22 March, at 12.00 noon
at Lichfield Cathedral, on Wednesday in Holy Week, 23 March, at 11.30am
Numbers at last year’s Chrism Masses—both of clergy and laity—were good, and so I trust that you will make attending the Chrism Mass this year the personal priority it should be, and encourage all other priests and deacons associated with your parish or community to do so too.
I also hope that, for their encouragement as well, you will be joined by as many lay people from your parish as possible. So that our worship is a worthy witness as well as a personal blessing.
Readers are welcome to robe, and we shall reserve places for them at the front of the congregational seating – but we need to know their names too.
It is, of course, customary for priests to concelebrate the Chrism Mass with the Bishop, and therefore to help with preparations a reply form is downloadable below. Please fill it out and return to my office by Monday 7 March.
Therefore, could I ask incumbents and priests in charge to discuss arrangements with all other clergy who assist in your parish, and ensure that either their names are on the reply card, or they write direct to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It would also help to know approximate numbers of laity who will join us. This will help us ensure that enough vestments, service papers, sets of oils etc are provided. You should only need to bring an alb and (as belt and braces) a white stole. In all three venues all oils will be provided in plastic bottles at the end of the Mass.
If you cannot, for some reason, be present, I would be grateful if you would write to me to say so.
On the day
at Exeter Cathedral (Monday 21 March), you will need to be in the Lady Chapel (at the far east of the church), robed and ready by 1.30 pm.
at Bristol Cathedral (Tuesday 22 March) you will need to be in the Chapter House off the cloister, robed and ready by 11.30 am.
at Lichfield Cathedral (Wednesday 23 March) you will need to be in the Chapter House, robed and ready by 11.00 am.
With prayers and every blessing:
The Right Reverend Jonathan Goodall
10 February 2016