PASSION SUNDAY Holy Week started off with Passion Sunday, aka Palm Sunday... the day was beautiful, the square outside was beginning to pick up in numbers of people passing through it, and it felt only too right that our Church would fill it with the proclamations of "Hosanna! Hosanna!" as we processed round the circumference of Soho square! As you can see, Fr. Alex celebrated this wonderful Mass, and we were there with our palm crosses ready for blessing! With the opening of the stunning Church now, we're beginning to see more and more people learn about this haven of peace and prayer, and coming to Sunday Masses here. In fact, on this Sunday, we were blessed to be able to welcome back Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir, who will, hereon in, be leading music worship every FIRST SUNDAY of the month!
On Tuesday, we went to show our support to the priests at the Diocese of Westminster Chrism Mass. We heard there were about 350 priests there... and boy, was it spectacular. As you'd expect the Cathedral was jam-packed. The people were on a high! This was the Mass where our leader, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, would renew and refresh the hearts of our priestly ministers. As you probably already know, priests have a very busy and in some cases, burdened life. They bare the Cross of Christ on their backs daily... and come to think of it, when you have accepted the responsibility and mission of Christ to bring souls to him, in the end, it is a massive burden to carry.
So in support of our priests, for the witness they give to us daily, for the love they have of all souls, and for the ministry they actively pursue in order to bring about the Kingdom of God here on earth, WE SALUTE YOU! And we thank you with all our hearts that you continue to be our local shepherds, leading us as your flock to the eternal Life which Christ Himself pours out for us in His Great Mercy and Love!
On Maundy Thursday, we were so blessed to be so involved in the Mass of the Eucharist and Priesthood! On this day, we remembered the humility of the Messiah. One who came to serve, not to BE served. On this most subliminal occasion, we remembered our service first and foremost to God - to His glory and will. We also remember our service to each other in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Tatiana did a great job of gaining 12 men to have their feet washed by Fr. Alex. As they all got up onto the sanctuary, many of us in the congregation must have wondered at the humility it must have taken to accept this special gift of service. You probably wouldn't notice that 2 of our community were Altar serving that night: Carmelo and Laurie. Sometimes, we forget the small acts of charity given during these times of real witness, and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who really wash the feet of our souls in helping run the different liturgies and activities that SPES in particular are involved in: Edna, Deanna, Michael, Stefan and the musicians, all the Altar servers, Janette Moira and Liz for the teas and coffees after Mass every Sunday. This Mass led to a watching at the Altar of Repose which really brought to life the sadness and pain of Gethsemane. We grasped the real need for preparation before Good Friday and the call to prayer during this very solemn time of the Passion and Death of Jesus.
We began this day with Stations of the Cross around the streets of Soho. It was a very solemn yet impactful procession, which attracted a lot of attention, and pray was an opportunity for many passers by to reflect at some point during the day, the question of why we Catholics would carry a Cross around Soho and 'sing weird songs'. For us, there was a real sense of what it meant to follow the Cross of Christ whilst meditating upon His passion, bearing witness as St. Paul encouraged Jesus' followers in the early days of the building of His Church.
After Stations, we dashed speedily over to Trafalgar Square (about 20 minute walk from St. Patrick's), to watch the famous live enactment by Wintershall Estate of the Passion of Jesus. As you can see by some of the photos, the performance worked up a mighty crowd. It was a very pleasant surprise and a real blessing that Archbishop Vincent Nicholls gave a small speech at the end of the performance.
To finish off the day in our community, we helped with the Good Friday service and Veneration of the Cross.
Holy Saturday for us began with 10am Tenebrae at Brompton Oratory. It was absolutely stunning. Half in Latin and half in English, it was a heavenly experience of meditation upon God's Holy Word. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the Church, but believe us when we say, the prayer was extremely reverential, and it really did feel like a tomb in the Church with none but the Altar candles lit. Claz absolutely fell in love with the choir who sang superbly and really brought to life the Word in expression and harmony.
After that, we were very kindly treated by Della, to a coffee at the nearest Pattiserie Valerie. It was a great way to socialise. One thing we've really noticed is that even though you spend all day together as a community, we still learn so much from each other when we are together willingly (and not out of obedience; although we are not disapproving of it!!) in a social setting and really just chilling out. We don't get very much opportunity to do that, so we are truly grateful when the opportunity does come! So once again and as always, THANK YOU DELLA! The Lord can never be outdone in generosity, and we trust so much that the Lord will pour out generously and abundantly His grace and mercy upon you!
The Easter Vigil was sublime. Long… but sublime. As you can see one of the photos is pitch black… that's because that's really how the Church looked when you first entered it coming in from the street. This night is a beautiful reminder of the spiritual war of light against dark; good over evil. We all know the story. Death in sin is conquered by the Eternal Life of our Lord Jesus Christ. The highlight for many of us was the Baptism of Joia-Maria, not to mention Ciara's near #fail at lighting the bonfire! It was also a near miss on the Baptism front to begin with, as initially, Fr. Alex didn't have anyone to Baptise during the vigil. That's just clear proof that God really does provide!
Fr Richard Nesbitt was so kind as to treat us all to a Polish Resurrection breakfast (minus the meat!) in the morning. The Mass, as always, was beautiful. And we finished the day off with a Paschal feast! All in all, it was such a blessed Triduum, and we've found such joy and consolation in being of service to the Parish these past couple of days. So to all our blog readers (because as you can probably tell this post is getting REALLY long and actually... I'm getting pretty tired!), a most blessed and joyful Eastertide! ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!