Is it just me, or has Lent passed very quickly? Of course, for those who gave up more than they wish they had, the last few days will drag, but it seems only yesterday that we were having the ashen crosses marked on our foreheads. Now, we have marked our Lord's entry to Jerusalem, with the traditional procession up Gower Street (congratualtions to one of our number who took the time to explain the bizarre sight to a passing taxi driver- you know who you are...), and Holy Week is upon us.
Lent has been a time of reflection and spiritual preparation, with residents taking to the prayer partners initiative with gusto, and the offices growing in popularity- but we have also had fun. From the impressive talent night, with song and dance from all sorts of unexpected figures, to the recent games of Risk, which have shown us new and slightly scary sides to certain residents and clergy (again, you know who you are), spirits have remained as high as ever- all the more important with exams and deadlines hitting hard once again.
But now, the scholars have a few days grace for Easter. Unlike Christmas, a great many people are staying for the the Triduum, and the cry of 'all hands on deck' will very soon ring through the corridors and stairwells. We eagerly await the reception of new Catholics into the Church at the vigil- always a moving sight to witness- and Fr Peter joined his brother priests at the Cathedral on Tuesday for the Chrism Mass, where the oils that will be used for the sacraments throughout the coming year- including at the vigil- were blessed by Archbishop Nichols.
From the joy of that concelebration, we descend to the Mass of the Lord's Supper, ahead of our commemoration of the Lord's crucifixion at 3pm on Friday. The purple has long since gone up, but there is something almost painful about the sight of the stripped altar and the empty tabernacle, so much a focal point of our lives as Catholics, and indeed, there is something physically exhausting about the Easter liturgies. Finally, after the tumult of past days, the Easter fire is lit, the furnishings of the church restored, and the risen Lord is recognised by us, his 'Easter people'.
You are urged to enter into the next few days as fully as possible. At Newman House:
Holy Thursday - 7:30pm
Good Friday - 3pm
Easter Vigil (Saturday) - 8pm
Easter Sunday - 10:30am (no evening mass)
We ask you to pray for those entering into full communion with the Catholic Church this Easter, and for the hundreds of millions of Christians around the world who we will be joining in these commemorations and celebrations, including the many who do so in the face of persecution or oppression.