As we enter the season of Lent, I want to send you all - all priests and deacons affiliated to The Society and others in our parishes - my prayers that Lent will once more be a blessing, a real springtime in our priestly discipleship. During it let us all pray for one another, and for our witness in the Church of England, with a new intensity and focus.
We shall next meet in large numbers during Holy Week, and I hope that you look forward to the Chrism Masses as much as I do. It is my hope that both clergy and laity will gather in greater numbers this year.
1 Venues for 2017
As has become our settled pattern - like that of the other areas - we will celebrate regionally in three cathedrals, with the encouragement of the archbishops to do so, and thanks to the hospitality and welcome of the various cathedral chapters.
I trust that you will make attending the Chrism Mass this year the personal ministerial priority it should be, and encourage all other priests and deacons associated with your parish or community to do so too.
It is, of course, customary for priests to concelebrate the Chrism Mass with the Bishop, and therefore - to help all concerned with preparations - a pre-addressed reply form is downloadable from this website. Please fill it outand return to my office (either by post or by e-mail) - as soon as possible, but by Monday 27 March at the latest.
This will help us here in the office, and the local priests liaising with cathedral staff, to ensure that enough vestments, service papers, sets of oils etc are provided.
If you cannot, for some reason, be present, I would be grateful if you would write to me and say so. If any of you knows of a sick or elderly priest who cannot be present, please would you let me know.
3 On the day
Clergy 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, but you are free to bring your own containers should you wish.
At Bristol Cathedral (Monday 10 April) you will need to be in the Chapter House off the cloister, robed and ready by 11.30 am.
At Exeter Cathedral (Tuesday 11 April), you will need to be in the Lady Chapel (at the far east of the church), robed and ready by 1.00 pm.
At Lichfield Cathedral (Wednesday 12 April) you will need to be in the Chapter House, robed and ready by 11.00 am.
With prayers and every blessing:
+ Jonathan Ebbsfleet