Tenebrae – Entering the shadows of Holy Week

As Tenebrae begins

As Tenebrae begins

Holy Week @ St’Cs

At the beginning of Holy Week the beautiful and poignant words of Tenebrae – Vespers in Holy Week, were sung on Monday evening at St Chrysostom’s.

The candle light and the haunting melodies of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and the psalms, so well sung by our cantors (ably guided by Dr Preston), helped create a holy time and space at this special time of our Christian year. One by one the candles on the Tenebrae hearse were extinguished during the worship until, at the end, one alone remained burning.

Tenebrae is Latin for shadows, or darkness, and the darkness of church, the solemnity and the stillness allowed us to hold before God the pains and desolations of our world which confront us so often in newspapers in the media, and in our personal lives.

A prayer said at Tenebrae:

Infinite God, before whom darkness is light and night shines like the day, show to us, in the night of abandonment, the light of your faithfulness and love, and in the depths of despair come, seek us out and lead us into hope. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Thirteenth Station – Jesus taken down from the Cross

Jesus Taken Down from the Cross

We adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

“Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus and Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed the body.”

They have all gone. The hilltop is empty. There is no fun in jeering and mocking a dead body. Death has its own majesty and generates fear. But for those who love Jesus they can now show that loveas they handle him tenderly, and with some relief that the pain is over, his spirit is even now in the close presence of the Father.

But is there any point in prayer now that he is gone?

Lord God and Father of us all, hold in your keeping all who will die today, especially those in great pain, or victims of torture. Be present  and give consolation to all who mourn.

(Our reflections and prayers for the Stations of the Cross this year have been written for us by Sister Jean Mary CHN)

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Twelfth Station – Jesus by death redeems the world

Jesus by Death Redeems the World

We adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

“At the sixth hour darkness came over the land until the ninth hour and at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”? Then with a loud cry he breathed his last.”

“And yet, I am not alone, for the Father is with me” so Jesus had said as the soldiers came to arrest him.  Now,  even that constant source of sustaining strength and assurance was taken away, as if Jesus died believing it had all been in vain, even God had deserted him.

Jesus you indeed drank to the last drop the cup the Father had given you.  In our times of darkness and despair help us to remember you have been there before us and you are with us still  knowing what it costs.

(Our reflections and prayers for the Stations of the Cross this year have been written for us by Sister Jean Mary CHN)

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Good news about our gutters

A broken downcomer at church

A broken downcomer at church

Over the years we’ve suffered at St Chrysostom’s from water ingress in different parts of the church. This has partly been due to design faults, but more significantly to inadequate guttering and downcomers causing water to flow onto walls, and resulting in damp. We’ve addressed issues as best we can when they have arisen, with our limited means.

Recently the government announced a grant stream to help listed places of worship with roof problems. We decided to apply.

Our churchwardens in front of scaffolding set up to help look at damp problems.

Our churchwardens in front of scaffolding looking at damp problems.

Applications had to be in quickly and so Desmond, one of our churchwardens and Edward, our treasurer got to work and gathered paperwork and put together an application.

On Thursday we were delighted to learn that we were successful in our application and that we have been awarded £85,800 to go towards renewing guttering etc (it’s expensive work).

This is wonderful news, not only in helping us bee water tight as a church but also because it helps us get on with other work about the church building, and encourages in our work for St Chrysostom’s future.

Church members were delighted to hear the news and after Mass on Sunday Fr Ian thanked Desmond and Edward for their diligence and hard work, without which we would have not got the grant.

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Eleventh Station – Jesus nailed to the cross for us

Jesus Nailed to the Cross for us

We adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

“When they came to the place that is called “The Skull” they crucified Jesus there, with the criminals, one on his right hand and one on his left. Then Jesus said “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Of course they knew what they were doing- they were hammering nails into living flesh. But they did not know and could not know  in their own flesh the level of pain, the body’s reaction to it all.

Jesus we thank you for those words of forgiveness. When we need to forgive give us grace to remember no-one else can know how much, and in what way, we are hurt and so help and teach us how to forgive, and how to accept your forgiveness.

(Our reflections and prayers for the Stations of the Cross this year have been written for us by Sister Jean Mary CHN)

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Tenth Station – Jesus stripped of his garments

Jesus Stripped of His Garments

We adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

“They divided my clothing among them and for my garments they cast lots.”

Playing dice for Jesus’ clothes was a game, a diversion for the soldiers  – they were doing their job. Before the crowd he was stripped of any remnant of dignity – and yet the thief, the centurion, and those who loved him, and perhaps those who had heard him and respected him saw within his true, innate dignity as son of the Father.

We pray Lord, that we too will learn to see you, and recognise you in the midst of squalor, and poverty knowing that you dwell among and within all those in need.

(Our reflections and prayers for the Stations of the Cross this year have been written for us by Sister Jean Mary CHN)

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Ninth Station – Jesus falls for the third time

Jesus Falls for the Third Time

We adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

“He was despised and rejected by others, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as one from whom others hide their faces; he was despised and we held him of now account”

Is this really the teacher they all flocked to hear ?  Now despised, mocked and beaten.  Why should he struggle to get up and go on, why not die there in the street ?  Except that Rome demands it –  the victim must be crucified alive.  And this also the Father’s will, the cup must be drained to the dregs.?

Jesus we pray for the grace, strength and love to be faithful to the end.

(Our reflections and prayers for the Stations of the Cross this year have been written for us by Sister Jean Mary CHN)

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