March at the Cathedral

By Canon Anthony O'Brien

From St David's Day in the second week of Lent to Holy Saturday, we journey through the month of March in celebration of the life-giving events of the Lord's life to the joyful celebration of Easter. The key focus for us at the Cathedral is to ensure that Holy Week is celebrated with due dignity and meaning so that through the liturgies we enter fully into the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Everything that happens here this month leads and builds up to these final important festivals of the year.
The last two in our series of Lenten talks about issues of social concern take place on 14 and 21 March from 6.30–7.30pm in the Gibberd Room. The first comes from James Timpson, chief executive of multinational retailer Timpson, looking at helping people into employment, especially those who have had a difficult start in life – thus reflecting his own companies' policies and experience of employing ex-offenders. The last talk is by Dr Paula Powell from Willowbrook Hospice, focusing on dignity in end-of-life care.
As well as the regular schedule of weekday Masses in Lent, there are Stations of the Cross and a later period of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every Friday afternoon. There are also regular times and opportunities when the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available in the Cathedral throughout the season.
Holy Week begins with the Blessing of Palms and the solemn reading or singing of the Passion according to St Mark at the various Sunday Masses on 25 March. In the evening at 7.30pm there is a special Holy Week Tenebrae Service.
On Wednesday evening, 28 March, we gather as an Archdiocesan family to take part in the Mass of Chrism at 7.30pm. At this service the priests renew their commitment and the oils to be used in parishes across the Archdiocese for the celebration of the Sacraments are blessed.
The three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday all start with a Choral Office of Readings and Morning Prayer from 10am. These help define a structure of prayer throughout these days, concentrating on the suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord. The evening Celebration of the Lord's Supper at 7.30pm is both a thanksgiving for the gift of the Eucharist and a renewal of dedication to following Christ through lives of service; this concludes with watching until 10pm. On Good Friday Archbishop Malcolm will lead a service of Stations of the Cross after the sung Office and will also preside in the afternoon at the Commemoration of the Lord's Passion at 3pm.
All are welcome to join us in an ecumenical walk of witness through Liverpool city centre on Holy Saturday at 2pm, from the Cathedral to the parish church of St Nicholas. Later that evening, at 9pm, our Easter Vigil begins outside the main entrance of the Cathedral with the blessing of the Easter fire and procession to celebrate in Vigil and Eucharist the Resurrection of the Lord. Our Easter Sunday Mass times are as on a normal Sunday and we have a special Easter Choral Evening Prayer from 3pm.