With the recent celebration of Pentecost, the great season of Christian festivals marking major events draws to its culmination. Pentecost is the fulfilment of the saving work of Jesus when the Spirit, the ‘Lord of life’, is poured out to comfort, inspire and bring fullness of life.
The year moves on and now, as my lectionary tells me, ‘Ordinary time resumes’. That may be liturgically correct, but how odd it sounds. Surely, nothing about these days could be described as ordinary! Easter and Ascension have been celebrated in lockdown and 50 days after Easter, restrictions are easing, but we still celebrated Pentecost from our own homes. Churches are locked and there is little at the moment that feels ordinary.
Little is ordinary in our streets, in our places of work or our places of leisure and recreation. Life still requires extraordinary measures to keep one another safe, and many are living with extraordinarily demanding conditions at home or extraordinary commitments of caring for, or serving, others. I do hope that you are well and able to keep in touch with family and friends, and with the Cathedral.
Nonetheless, we are indeed in the ordinary season of the church year, the season that takes us from after Pentecost to Advent. It’s the longest season and it’s given to learning about the life and ministry of Jesus. It’s a season of green vestments, symbolising growth and learning. This year we come to ‘ordinary time’ with new eyes, because of recent experiences.
Perhaps, like me, living a rather restricted life has caused you to value ordinary things more. As John Keeble wrote in the hymn New every morning is the love, the ‘trivial round, the common task’ has had to suffice and has, rather surprisingly, furnished all that was needed. With fewer opportunities to actually meet people, a phone call, letter or chance meeting (socially distanced) in the street have meant more. It feels so good when someone asks ‘how are you?’ and cares about the answer. When neighbours take time to stop and speak with one another and offer help. When customers thank shop assistants. When ‘ordinary’ work, paid and unpaid, is recognised as essential.
Jesus spent most of the first 30 years of his life living and working in Nazareth. The ordinary seems to have been good enough for him. Then, in his public ministry Jesus taught about God’s kingdom in terms of yeast and seeds, cooking and hospitality, farming and fishing and how the ordinary things of life convey God’s love.
George Herbert’s beautiful sonnet Prayer explores the purpose of prayer and what it achieves with many rich images and metaphors. He includes the lines:
‘…Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest…’
The ordinary may contain the heavenly. The driving force of Pentecost is that God wishes to live with and in us, transforming our daily lives. More than ever, we need his gifts of love, joy and peace for ourselves and for our communities.
We are currently hoping, dependent on Government guidance, to open the cathedral for private prayer and reflection in early July. Recorded Sunday worship resumes from this Sunday and we will live stream as soon as possible. Daily reflections and Zoom Evening Prayer will continue www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk Please do keep in touch and please do take care.
I pray that you will know the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in ‘ordinary time’ and in these extraordinary days.
Almighty God, source of the whole world’s life;
by your life-giving Spirit, draw us into your truth,
This is a lovely time in the Christian calendar with joyful festivals and some great saint’s days. Having celebrated Ascension Day, later this week we anticipate Pentecost Sunday and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
This week also marks a very significant milestone with the return of worship to the cathedral. The return of priests to churches and cathedrals is gradual, as part of a painstaking process to maintain safety. It has been my privilege to record worship for today, the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury. I do hope that you will join in worship through the website: https://www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk/eucharist/
Coming ‘back home’ to the cathedral after an absence of two months was a real joy. Our beautiful building speaks of eternal changelessness, yet I was also strongly aware that, since I was last in the building, much has changed in the world, and much has changed in society. I too have learnt new lessons and have changed. I was aware of carrying grief, and also hope, back into the cathedral. There has been much suffering, bereavement and loss, and the poorest in society have suffered most. There has also been much that is good: selfless and sacrificial love; acts of human kindness and communities of care. With lower pollution levels we have seen a renewal and recovery in parts of creation. I hope then, that we will not simply seek to ‘go back’ to normal, but move forward to seek a ‘new normal’ of care for the earth, and kindness and justice for all God’s people.
In the days between Ascension and Pentecost the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leads the church in praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. Familiar words from the Lord’s Prayer that contain a profoundly radical message. Human beings easily fall into pursuing self-interest and their own personal kingdoms. But with the Lord’s Prayer we pray that God’s kingdom of justice, mercy and peace may come. In the Kingdom of God the whole of creation, the earth and its people are to be renewed in the likeness of Christ through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
St Augustine of Hippo wrote about coming to faith, in his Confessions, ‘Late have I loved you, beauty so ancient and so new…’ there is always newness to faith. I hope that each of us is ready to embrace the new gifts that God is seeking to give us, and the new things that God has to teach, so that we will be ready to play our part in the transformation of our communities and the renewal of the earth.
Come, O Spirit of God,
and make within us your dwelling place and home.
May our darkness be dispelled by your light,
and our troubles calmed by your peace;
renew, inspire and unite us with your heavenly life
that we may serve here on earth,
Do take care and continue to stay safe,
With blessings and best wishes,
The Very Revd Catherine Ogle
Dean of Winchester
‘One Body in Christ’: You are invited to send a photo of yourself holding the message, ‘Peace be with you’ to firstname.lastname@example.org these will be used to show ‘cathedral people’ in forthcoming recorded and streamed Winchester Cathedral Services. It would be really good to include a wide range of people, do please send in your photo!
This week, on Thursday 21 May, the 40th day of Easter, the church celebrates Ascension Day and the ascension of the risen Christ into heaven. Please do join in the Ascension Day Service from Winchester Cathedral, which you will be able to access at https://www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk/ascension/
When I was a parish priest in Huddersfield, the church organist delicately pointed out to me that I was choosing one hymn far too often. The hymn was ‘Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour’ which ends with the soaring words: ‘Risen, ascended, glorified’. The hymn, both thoughtful and uplifting, reminds me that in his ascended glory, Christ is available to everyone, everywhere. As Archbishop William Temple wrote:
‘The Ascension of Christ is his liberation from all restrictions of time and space. It does not represent his removal from the earth, but his constant presence everywhere on earth.’
In days of lock-down, with the emphasis on safety and therefore the closure of places of gathering and worship, Christians have been praying at home. Winchester Cathedral has sought to respond very positively, with worship and reflection resources online; a live, remote, gathering for worship (on Zoom) for Evening Prayer; and letters to those without internet access. The 1000 year cathedral tradition of daily prayer for individual needs, for our city, diocese, county, nation and the world has continued, from our homes.
Surely, some good things are coming from this experience. As Temple says, Christ is everywhere on earth. Home is where we first learn about love, care and forgiveness. At Easter we see the risen Lord meet his disciples in domestic settings and homely ways. He visits them at home, he stays for supper and cooks them breakfast. Christ is at home with us.
Now, with the gradual relaxation of restrictions, we are preparing for clergy to safely enter the cathedral building again. Soon we will be able to live-stream a simple Eucharist. This will, in time, lead to the cathedral being open for private prayer.
It will be good to gradually see our church buildings open again. God is everywhere, and the church is people, but sacred buildings do have a particular role to play.
Our cathedrals and churches stand as icons of God’s presence. They hold the history and memory of communities and families, while enabling both grand public gathering for worship and the most intensely personal spiritual experience. In places of worship we share faith and tradition, and shape meaning together.
I’ve been reflecting on a story from the Jewish wisdom tradition:
The child of a rabbi used to go the woods each day to find God. His father said, ‘I’m glad that you are searching for God. But don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?’ ‘Yes,’ said the boy, ‘but I am not.’
As human beings we are sensitive to our environment. Entering the cathedral fills me with a sense of wonder. There, I experience my life in the context of the glorious immensity of God’s life and love. There, I am aware of the loving regard of the Creator, my significance as God’s child and, at the same time, my utter insignificance. The cathedral places my life and daily concerns in the context of the whole world and of eternity. I know that the cathedral means so much to so many. It’s hard to put into words and often moves us to tears.
God is the same everywhere, but we are not. Cathedrals and churches, forests and mountains, homes and gardens all enable us to know God more fully.
Please continue to take care of yourself and others, and stay well. Please stay in contact with the Cathedral and one another. Wherever you are:
I’m sure that many of you, like me, watched the address to the nation on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, by Her Majesty the Queen. We heard the Queen speak from personal and first-hand experience of the profound joy of that day, of freedom. She spoke of the ‘great deliverance’ from total war that had affected everyone, and in which everyone had played a part.
Thanks to the Hampshire Record Office I was able to read about the response of our cathedral to the great news. On the Sunday following VE Day there were three special services at Winchester Cathedral. Dean Gordon Selwyn arranged the solemn ceremony and thanksgiving for victory that took place in the morning and the shared ecumenical celebration in the afternoon. In the evening there was an honouring of lost loved ones: the Dean invited people to bring posies of flowers to Evensong to lay in the cathedral. I was struck by the message, in the morning liturgy, that the nation had escaped the threat of slavery. The evils of the Nazi ideology, if victorious, would have taken away every right and freedom.
On this 75th anniversary parties and services could not take place as planned. Celebration and reflection moved into and outside our homes, and worship moved online and within households. This was poignant. In these days we save lives and keep safe not by military combat, but by staying indoors. Empty streets have become a sign of how well we are caring for one another.
As Government guides us, in the coming weeks, out of lockdown, we will continue to be concerned about how to take care of our own health and that of other people. The Cathedral will be following Government and Church of England instruction about the return of clergy to the cathedral and how and when the cathedral may open again for private prayer. I will keep you informed of changes as they gradually happen, and up-to-date information will be on the website.
The Coronavirus crisis has not been a war, but it has affected us all, and we have all had a part to play. We have experienced more keenly than I can ever remember, how our individual behaviour affects other people and how human society can only thrive by mutual care. The Cathedral seeks to be a ‘community of care’. Thank you for the part that you are playing, through prayer and acts of kindness, to showing and sharing care.
It took many years and great determination to rebuild the nation after the war. It will take time and determination to recover from this global pandemic. The Coronavirus has taught us that evil and disease do not respect borders; we need a big vision of human flourishing, of justice and mercy, of care for creation and peace.
Scripture gives us a great vision of human flourishing, of swords beaten into ploughshares, of justice flowing like water and of neighbours serving each other, of loving mercy and walking humbly with God. I hope that our faith will continue to inspire us in the days ahead.
Her Majesty the Queen spoke of international friendship between former enemies, and so I will end with the final verse of the National Anthem. The language is of the nineteenth century, but the prayer is for today.
‘Let us not neglect to meet together..’ Hebrews 10: 25
These are days of social distancing and self-isolation and many of us are staying at home to keep one another safe. In this strange season, we have no opportunity to meet up with friends or get together in the usual ways and we miss one another.
Normally, at this time of year, we gather together for the Cathedral Community Day, and consult about the life and ministry of the cathedral. This year the normal meeting was not possible but it still felt really important to offer an opportunity to gather on-line.
I’ll admit to feeling some trepidation about this. ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ came to mind, and I could think of a multitude of things that could go wrong in a potentially large digital meeting! But in the event, all seemed to agree that it was a tremendously good meeting. Thank you to the 70 – 80 who joined the meeting and the conversation. For me, after six weeks of separation, to see one another’s faces and to hear one another’s voices brought great joy. Some members of our community have experienced pain, illness and bereavement in recent weeks. It was very good to gather and to pray together.
On Friday 8 May the nation celebrates the 75th anniversary of VE Day when Nazi Germany formally surrendered to the Allied Forces bringing an end to the war in Europe. The war continued in the Far East for a further three months. After the terrors and privations of war, the street parties and celebrations of the victory in Europe were heartfelt and joyful. In peace-time people could gather again without fear, in their homes, in churches and on the streets. VE Day ushered in a time of national rebuilding and of hope.
Normally we would be marking this significant anniversary with celebratory anniversary gatherings of our own. As we inch forward through this current crisis, with the hope of a gradual end to lock-down, we know that large public gatherings are still some way off.
So the cathedral will be offering a special VE Day act of worship for you on Friday through the cathedral web-site. Although we are not able to gather together in person, I do hope that this worship will unite us spiritually and give each one of us a sense of being with others on this significant anniversary.
During the meeting of the cathedral community, several people said that the daily reflections, on-line worship and the daily Evening Prayer have brought them to a more personal sense of connection to God and the community. It’s great that modern technology gives us new possibilities for building Christian community. Please be assured that the cathedral will take the lessons we’re learning into our planning for the future, particularly that cathedral ministry should be available to people in their homes.
I’ll end with a prayer from the great leader of the church during the war, Archbishop William Temple. Temple’s vision of a post war society reflected the innate dignity of each person created in Gods image and influenced the development of the Welfare State in 1945.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who prayed for thy disciples that they might be one, even as thou art one with the Father, draw us to thyself, that in common love and obedience to thee we may be united to one another, in the fellowship of the one Spirit, that the world may believe that thou art Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
As the church continues to celebrate the season of Easter, I’m wondering how you are experiencing Easter this year?
Those who join us in Evening Prayer (via Zoom) are hearing the wonderful Easter stories of how the friends of Jesus met their risen Lord and come to understand the wonderful world changing event of the resurrection. Our prayers each day are punctuated with ‘Alleluia!’
The natural world around us is bursting with new life, a visual reminder of Easter joy. In the Inner Close the grass is verdant again, wisteria hangs in swags over the Cathedral Offices and we’re celebrating the hatching of peregrine falcon chicks.
St Augustine writes, ‘We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.’ Christians live by faith in Gods purposes as revealed by the resurrection: that our Saviour has conquered evil and death and brings new life to the world.
Yet for me, and perhaps for you too, day to day reality doesn’t really feel like Easter. Humanity, throughout the world, faces a microscopic threat to life and we are all at risk. Many are working with self-sacrificial dedication to save and to serve. Many of us are feeling lonely, isolated and emotionally vulnerable. Many have lost work and are worried about feeding their families and paying their bills. These are challenging and uncertain days.
With closed churches and Easter celebrations taking place at home, this has been a quieter Easter for us all. I’ve really missed the shared joy, the music and worship. However, I’m discovering that a quieter and smaller Easter, can still be very real. The other day Nigel Slater, the food writer, spoke about his solitary life in lock-down and that he realised he is noticing things more clearly – such as a flower blooming outside his window. Paying attention and noticing new life and beauty may be a real source of Easter joy.
Easter is made real for us every day in the example of self-sacrificial love in our hospitals and care homes and from hearing the stories of health workers and patients. For these people, and for all our essential workers, we are enormously grateful. Easter is also made real in acts of kindness that we receive, from a kind letter, phone call, or even a greeting or enquiry, ‘How are you?’
Small occasions of new life and of Easter joy can transform a whole day. I do hope that you are able to experience Easter, despite everything, and be fed and renewed to take on each day.
My prayer at this time is that as well as experiencing Easter, we might make Easter real for someone else. That each of us may be able to offer some joy, kindness, attention and hope to someone else.
You gladdened the hearts of the disciples
With the sight of the risen Lord:
Give us, we pray, an experience of the new life and hope of Easter,
that we might serve one another
and share the joy of Easter
through your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
There’s a story deep in the pages of the Old Testament about facing fear.
Moses has led his people out of slavery in Egypt into the wilderness, where life was not at all as they expected. They complained bitterly about the food and water, and they spoke against God and Moses. God’s answer was to make things worse: he sent poisonous serpents among them!
Once the people realised their folly, God offered a solution. He told Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole, so that those who had been bitten could look at it and live. To be cured, they had to face what they most feared.
In this Covid-19 crisis, many fears swirl in the air, such as those to do with our care homes. We are beginning to understand the fear of residents and staff, who have felt cut off and not given adequate protective equipment, and not even included in Government statistics. Thank goodness this is changing.
Fear is a basic human emotion, a natural response to danger and threat, and we need to learn from our keen sense of fear. However, we can’t be paralysed by it. Unless we face our fears, we can’t live with any degree of freedom.
As Jesus looked toward his death on a cross, a brutal execution, he remembered the story of Moses and the serpent: ‘When I am lifted up’ he said, ‘I will draw all people to myself’. He knew that what we fear above all is the poison of death; his death was going to provide the antidote to any who looked upon it.
Looking there, we see someone able to rise above suffering and pain because of his faith and trust in God, and because he believed that it was right to lay down his life for his friends. Christ was able to rise above fear to serve and save humankind.
My wife Sophie Hacker is an artist. Over the last few weeks, in response to the crisis, she’s been making a cross of recycled wood, painting it green toward the bottom and rising to gold at the top. Green stands for renewal, the renewal of creation, and gold stands for God’s glory revealed in this process of renewal.
With the Moses story in mind Sophie has added, spreading up from the base of the cross, representations of the virus, those ominous suckered sacs we see on the daily news. Though at first it might seem disturbing to have this foreign body being absorbed into the cross, it makes the same point as the Moses story. We must face what we most fear in order to overcome it, even the deadly virus.
As we do this, we’ll become better able to help others needing our care. This doesn’t mean being reckless, putting ourselves and others at unnecessary risk, but it does mean making whatever contribution we can to their health. Hats off to those on the front line; but how can we all, with more courage than fear, be key workers for the wellbeing of others?
This has been an extraordinary Easter. Our churches and cathedrals have been closed and silent. But nothing, not even the coronavirus, can separate us from the love of God. The church, in its people, is alive and well and celebrating resurrection. Alleluia!
Happy Easter. Despite the dangers and difficulties of our present situation I hope that you experience Easter joy and hope and that you continue to do so in the days ahead.
Of course we have missed being together in our dear cathedral. Worship here has been disrupted by plague, politics and Civil War, but not in living memory. Closing the doors of the cathedral has been a real sacrifice, but one made willingly, in order to promote everyone’s safety and to support the stay at home message. We look forward to gathering again in the cathedral, to worship and welcome, to choral music and bell-ringing, when we are able.
I’d like to share with you, if I may, some personal experiences of joy and hope in recent days, some sparks of grace.
Chapter discovered that Custos had been quietly and faithfully carving and preparing the 2020 Easter candle, though there was to be no Holy Saturday first Eucharist of Easter. So a short video was made, showing him finishing the candle and then I prayed and lit the candle from the porch of the Deanery. This felt like a great expression of joy and hope. Despite everything Easter happens! God brings about resurrection. We face restrictions and limitations, cancellations and postponements, but nothing cancels Easter. Lighting the candle filled me with ‘sure and certain’ hope, for now, and for the days when we will be lighting it again in the cathedral.
It’s also been a great joy to me to see the cathedral staff and clergy, under challenging and changing working conditions, maintain the essential life of the cathedral. We have even had a real person at the end of the Cathedral Reception phone, most days! The challenge of offering daily reflections and Holy Week and Easter services has seen your clergy learn new 21st century ways of doing traditional things. (Thank you so much for words of encouragement). We know that all we are learning will be helpful for ministry in the future, especially enabling those unable to be present physically to remain connected with our worshipping life. This will continue and develop beyond coronavirus.
Finally, there is great hope for me from the growing social awareness that we are all in the same boat. Pope Francis has written wonderfully, in Urbi et Orbi about Jesus calming the storm: ‘We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disorientated.’ http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/urbi/documents/papa-francesco_20200327_urbi-et-orbi-epidemia.html The coronavirus is indiscriminate. Because of this there seems to be a new awareness of our common humanity, and common need. This new sense will enable us to live with greater justice and compassion when this threat has passed. I hope so.
Please continue to keep yourselves and others safe. Please stay connected with the cathedral and one another, until we meet again,
May the power of the cross,
the joy of the resurrection,
and the presence of our risen Lord
be with you, now and always, Amen.
The Very Revd Catherine Ogle Dean of Winchester
Thursday 9 April
The Power of Love
Dear brothers and sisters
For Christians, these days are the most significant days of the year. Traditionally, we mark them as ‘The Triduum’, from Maundy Thursday evening to Easter Day. These days mark the journey in which we travel, in our hearts and imaginations, with Jesus on the way of the cross. From the Last Supper, to Judas’ betrayal with a kiss, to arrest and trial, to carrying the cross to Calvary, to crucifixion and death, to a tomb and then to resurrection joy.
I do hope that you will be able to take this journey in company with the cathedral and the worship that is offered on-line, via the cathedral web-site. Morning and Evening prayer is said each day, with evening prayer offered as a public on-line event. You can find daily reflections and other short films from the clergy, a Maundy Thursday Eucharist followed by a Watch, Good Friday devotions and the Holy Saturday vigil. On Easter Sunday, the Eucharist comes from Wolvesey led by Bishop Tim and Sally Dakin, and an Evensong is offered by English Cathedrals. I do hope that you will take part and feel connected with others drawing closer to Jesus Christ.
Taking this journey is hugely challenging, because it opens our eyes not just to Christ’s suffering, but to suffering and sacrifice around us in the wider world. Travelling the way of the cross with Jesus causes us to become more aware of our common humanity.
On Maundy Thursday, Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment: to love one another as he loves them. God shows us over these three days that he loves everything that he has made, completely, and invites us to live in love and peace with one another and creation.
And the lesson of Easter Day is that, in the end, love wins. The resurrection of Jesus Christ shows us that nothing on earth is more powerful than the power of love. After suffering and pain, after death and darkness, comes new life for the whole world.
Today, as the nation faces the threat of Coronavirus, there is much fear and anxiety, not just about illness, but about making ends meet. People have lost work and incomes. There is nothing good about Coronavirus, but perhaps it has caused us to remember some important things that are easily forgotten. It has reminded me that we were not made for isolation, but for relationship. It has reminded me that what we do and how we behave affects other people in very tangible ways, for good or ill. It has reminded me that much lower paid work is absolutely vital to the health and well-being of society. I’ve been more and more aware how much the rhythm of worship, hymns, scripture and liturgy shape my life and give it meaning. We have also learnt vital lessons about how we can change our behaviour, so that pollution is reduced and climate disaster averted.
When we are through this pandemic, may we never forget the lessons learnt this Holy Week and Easter about our shared humanity, about self-sacrifice, and the power of love.
With blessings and best wishes
The Very Revd Catherine Ogle Dean of Winchester
Friday 3 April
Dear brothers and sisters
This weekend, with Palm Sunday, we stand at the threshold of Holy Week and the world changing events of the cross and resurrection. These are days when we share the deepest and most fundamental Christian memories and truths. We take a faithful journey through Holy Week – the world begins to change because we are changed. This isn’t difficult to do but it is deeply challenging. We just need to journey with Jesus, and stay close by him, into Jerusalem and an unjust trial, into condemnation and carrying the cross, on to Golgotha and to death. Then we wait.
Taking this journey with Jesus is challenging, because it opens our hearts and imaginations to his great love for the world. As we draw closer to his suffering and sacrifice we will find that we become more aware of the suffering of our brothers and sisters. We are drawn into Christ’s compassion.
Across the nation people have lost work and incomes. Our food banks are appealing for more support and charities with reduced incomes are trying to meet ever greater need. There is much fear and anxiety, not just about illness, but also about making ends meet.
I pray that we will all find a way of taking a full part in Holy Week from our own homes and be refreshed in our faith and commitment to loving our neighbour and being ready to serve and share the gifts and resources with which we have been blessed.
In the last few weeks we have devised a special ‘Holy Week at Home’ journey to support your participation in Holy Week, including locally devised daily reflections and worship from the cathedral clergy and our diocesan and suffragan bishops, and content materials from the national resources of English cathedrals. Please join these via the cathedral or diocesan web-sites. Try to take the journey gradually and carefully, day by day. Each day plays its distinctive part in the unfolding drama.
During the current crisis, despite the closure of the cathedral, the centuries-old daily pattern of prayer has been maintained with Chapter meeting remotely from our homes. We are now able to invite you to join us in Evening Prayer at 5.30pm. Guidance for how to do this is on the cathedral web-site. Whether or not you can join us we are here to pray for you. You can contact us by letter or at email@example.com with prayer requests and these will be prayed by Chapter in confidence.
On Palm Sunday I invite you to join worship from Wolvesey led by Bishop Tim and Sally Dakin, offered on both the cathedral and diocesan web-sites rom early Sunday morning. I will be joining this Service remotely at 11.00am, perhaps you can too. We will then be offering a many-voices reading of the familiar Passion Narrative.
May God bless us all during the coming week, and may we be a blessing to our neighbour in need.
Whose most dear Son went not up to joy
but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
With blessings and best wishes.
28 March 2020
Dear brothers and sisters
For the first time in living memory the churches and cathedrals of the nation sit silent and empty. For many of us this is an indescribable sadness and significant loss. But, as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have reminded us, the sacrifice is a necessary contribution to keeping everyone healthy and safe. By staying at home, we will be saving lives.
The good news is that the agencies, charities and institutions on which we rely are finding new ways of working. Churches are finding creative and imaginative ways of being available, enabling prayer and worship and listening to everyone’s needs and anxieties.
Despite the closure of our building, your cathedral is maintaining the centuries-old daily pattern of prayer. The clergy are ‘meeting’ remotely from our homes morning and evening to pray together. Please keep in touch. You can contact us by letter or at firstname.lastname@example.org with prayer requests and these will be prayed by us, in confidence.
I will be joining at 11.00am, perhaps you can too. We will be able to experience ‘spiritual communion’ with one another and the communion of saints.
Please be assured that when human touch and closeness are taken away from us God’s love is still real. God is with you in your isolation and in your household. God is with you in your essential work or volunteering. God is close to you when you are distanced from other people.
This weekend Passiontide begins and our focus turns increasingly to the cross of Christ and to the events of his passion. These are usually days when we share the deepest and most fundamental Christian memories and truths. I hope that you will feel able to take part and to draw strength from these memories and truths. The world has changed around us but faith, hope and love abide.
When you feel anxious, you may like to remember the timeless words of a much-loved hymn:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind, Forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence praise. In deeper reverence praise.
Breathe through the heats of our desire Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm! O still small voice of calm!
With blessings and best wishes
25 March 2020
We are living through exceptional times. Because of the coronavirus crisis, and the conditions needed to keep ourselves and others safe, our usual habits are challenged and our every-day activities curtailed. Thank you for all that you are doing to keep yourself, and others safe. Thank you to cathedral staff who are adjusting to new ways of working. I am so grateful for the spirit and values that are being lived out in our community.
Yesterday the Archbishop of Canterbury gave instructions concerning clergy staying at home. Church buildings are now to be closed for private prayer as well as public worship. Sadly, this means that we will no longer be able to ‘live-stream’ services for the cathedral in the morning and evening.
Chapter will continue to seek new and creative ways for us to live out the cathedral calling and ministry through these days so that prayer, community and service can continue. Please do keep in touch and continue to send your prayer requests by letter, email or through social media. You will continue to receive regular messages and updates from me and each day there will be a new message and prayer on the web-site, recorded by one of the clergy, from home. I’ve just recorded my first thought, from my garden.
Today is the feast of the Annunciation and we remember the love of God for the whole world. We believe that God loves the world so much, that he wants to be with each of us, in person. Mary said ‘yes’ to God and through the birth of her son, Jesus, God’s love is unleashed in the world.
We will need resilience, resourcefulness and patience to get through these days and weeks. My prayer is that each of us will know, personally, the comfort and peace of the love of God. Though we stand at a distance from one another, I pray that, like Mary, we will carry God’s love and share it with others.
We are all invited by Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin, to pray the Lord’s Prayer, today, at noon:
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Monday 23 March
We are living through exceptionally challenging times due to the coronavirus pandemic. The situation is fast moving and the conditions needed to keep ourselves, and others, safe means that our usual activities are changing. I do hope that you are adjusting to changing circumstances and keeping safe and well.
Over the weekend, while public worship is put on hold, Winchester Cathedral rose to the challenge from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to become a ‘different sort of church.’ For the first time ever we are now offering live streaming of daily services, through our own website and via Twitter and Facebook so that people can still worship with us from the safety of their own homes. I am deeply grateful to all those who worked tirelessly, and late into the night, to enable this to happen.
These are all ways that will help you to stay connected with the cathedral, one another and with God. We plan to offer more written resources and can also keep connected, by phone, email and letter.
As we move into this new week we’ll be continuing to develop positive responses to new challenges, including how cathedral staff can continue to work safely. Our priority is to take care of one another and make sure that we’re offering the safest possible environment.
We will need resilience, resourcefulness and patience to get through these days and weeks. I do hope that everyone who is self-isolating can continue to feel connected to the cathedral. Do please send your prayer requests, for yourselves or others. These will be prayed and placed on the altar. For now, here is my prayer for each of us:
God of healing and hope, may this time of danger by your Holy Spirit, bring out the best and not the worst in us. Show us the ways in which we can share faith and love, while standing at a distance, and honour our connection with one another, and with you, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, Amen.
The Very Revd Catherine Ogle Dean of Winchester
Thursday 19 March
Dear brothers and sisters
This Sunday, 22 March, marks two very different but significant issues. Sunday is both the National Day of Prayer, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and it is also Mothering Sunday when, by long tradition, we give thanks for loving mothers (and all who have mothered us) and for the love and nurturing of Mother Church.
Although public worship is currently suspended throughout the churches, I’m very glad to say that Winchester Cathedral remains open. You are invited to come and stay awhile in the security of its ancient walls, in which daily prayer has been said for more than 1000 years. You are welcome to come, light a candle, and pray for all that is in your heart.
Although we are not able to invite you to public worship at this time, morning and evening prayers are being said and sung in the enclosed area of the Quire and the Eucharist is being celebrated by the ministers, each day, on behalf of everyone. You can leave prayers in the cathedral, or send them to me, or any member of the clergy, directly, or through the cathedral office, or on twitter or through the web-site. These prayers will be offered each day at the altar.
Please monitor the Cathedral web-site for further messages and information as the situation develops. This will be the primary way of communicating with our congregations and community.
My prayer is that Sunday may be a focus of faith, hope and love. St Paul wrote: ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’
On Sunday perhaps we can all take time to thank our own mothers and the nurturing love that we have known from them and from other family members, carers and friends. We can take time to pray for everyone affected by the coronavirus, here in the United Kingdom and around the world, for those who are isolated, lonely or anxious, for those who are ill and for those who are worried about employment and making ends meet. We can give thanks for all who are working to take care of our daily needs and, especially, those who work in medical and emergency services. We can pray for those who are seeking a vaccine. The cathedral is a faithful witness to the enduring power of faith, hope and love. These three elements provide a deep-rooted strength in which to stand strong in times such as these.
A virus is infectious in ways that are unseen but real. I believe faith, hope and love can be just as infectious and real. If we can be people who share kindness and care, our behaviour can be infectious in ways that bring life, comfort and joy.
I do hope that this weekend is a blessing to us all as we celebrate love and find ways to practice kindness and care. You may like to use this Mothering Sunday prayer:
God of love, passionate and strong, tender and careful: Watch over us and hold us all the days of our life. We thank you for mothers who gave us life, Those by whose sacrifice and love we have been blessed. May our lives enable love to abound in the world today That no one need be anxious, lonely or afraid. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I will be in touch again in the coming days.
With blessings and best wishes
Catherine Ogle Dean of Winchester
17 March 2020
Dear brothers and sisters
Today the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have advised that, in the light of Government guidance around non-essential contact, public worship be suspended until further notice. Winchester Cathedral will therefore be suspending formal public worship from tomorrow. We will remain open and prayers will be said daily, morning and evening, by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone.
The cathedral seeks at all times to be a community of care. At this very difficult time we will do all that we can to keep one another safe and well. Plans for continuing cathedral ministry are being devised including the opportunity for ‘live-streaming’ of daily and Sunday worship so that you can join in at home. We will also seek to provide you with web-based and printed materials to enable you to be nourished by daily worship and ‘Holy Week at Home’. Please contact me, or any member of the clergy, directly, or through the cathedral office if you would like us to pray for you or someone else for whom you are concerned.
Chapter extends warm thanks and appreciation to our wonderful cathedral volunteers. Volunteers are responding to this situation, in consultation with their Section Heads, and many have decided to step back from volunteering during this time. If you are in this situation, please do keep in touch and we’ll look forward to seeing you when it is safe for you to return.
I believe that the cathedral is called to be, at all times, a beacon of faith, hope and love and its more important than ever to be a place of continuing prayer. Please be assured that you can continue to come to pray in the inspirational and beautiful cathedral, if your circumstances allow.
This wonderful place is a daily reminder that our nation has come through times of war, plague and destruction in the past. The cathedral is an icon of Gods loving presence, standing and withstanding, for all ages.
Please monitor the web-site for further messages and information as the situation develops. This will be the primary way of communicating with our congregations and community.
I will also be writing to you regularly with updates.
I’m writing this on St Patrick’s day and hope that his prayer will give us inspiration for the days ahead. You may wish to say this for yourself, or on behalf of others.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.