A Message from the Dean

A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN OF WINCHESTER


Thursday 1st July 2021

Please click here to listen to the audio version of this message. 

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed – John 8:36 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear friends,

This is a season of joy for the Church, as women and men, respond to the call of God and come to ordination.  Following their years of training, next weekend on 4 and 5 July – with four socially distanced services in the cathedral – we will welcome 26 new deacons and 17 new priests to serve across the diocese.  

Authentic Christian leadership is seen as people identify more and more with Christ, the perfect model of servant-leadership.  All Christian ministry is service and Jesus promises that in his service is perfect freedom.  

We continue to wait for ‘Freedom Day’ and the lifting of restrictions aimed at protecting us from transmitting the coronavirus.  I wonder what you most look forward to? Perhaps its freedom from something – freedom from having to wear a mask, for example, or perhaps its freedom to hug your friends or even just to shake hands.  

For Christians there is a deeper meaning to freedom.  True freedom is being able to become more and more the people God made us to be.  Free from fear, greed and falsehood, free to love, serve and be fully alive.  It’s my prayer that everyone ordained as deacons and priests next weekend will discover their true freedom in lives of love, humility and service.    

I remember before my ordination as deacon, 27 years ago, and lacking female role models, being worried about how on earth I could be both ordained, and still be me.  I need not have worried.  I’ve learnt that God is kind and loves us into being.  In his service there really is freedom.     

This month we celebrate together two of the patron saints of the Cathedral, St Peter and St Paul.  They were both people whose lives were transformed by meeting Jesus.  They both received new names.  Simon emerged as Peter and Saul as Paul. God loved Simon and Saul exactly as they were, and yet also saw all that they could become as Peter and Paul.  Both of them changed and grew and became powerful servant-leaders of the Church. Both men became martyrs, and saints. 

I pray that as new freedoms emerge for us all, we can hold fast to the greatest freedom, which is to become more and more the people God intends us to be.  I pray that we will use our freedom to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves and be the best people that we can be.  To freely choose to change lifestyles and habits to care for one another and for our earthly home and generations to come.        

Please continue to take care of yourself and others.  I will close with a prayer by St Augustine seeking to find perfect freedom, in service:

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.
Grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose,
that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing your will,
and no weakness hinder us from doing it;
but that in your light we may see light,
and in your service find our perfect freedom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
 

Amen.  

 

With blessings and best wishes, 

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle
Dean of Winchester 


Dear friends,

As we enter the month of June, with the hope of restrictions lifting in a couple of weeks and freedoms returning, it has finally stopped raining and the sun is shining. There is the pleasure of reunion for families and friends and of worshippers, volunteers and clergy coming back to the Cathedral. Those of us who are privileged to be doubly vaccinated (one of my friends calls herself ‘Goody-two-jabs’) can feel much more confident to venture out and about. Perhaps like me, you are realising just how good ‘normal’ life is. Perhaps there is a sense that you are more like yourself again.   

After each lockdown of the cathedral, we discovered that, ‘its easier to close down than to open up’. Indeed it is.  Perhaps this is an analogy for human emotions and habits. At the end of the month, 29 June, we celebrate St Peter. When the risen Lord spoke with his friend Peter, he asked him, ‘Do you love me?’ three times. We are told that Peter was grieved to be asked a third time whether he loved Jesus.  This is because the three fold questioning echoes Peter’s three fold denial of Christ on the night of his arrest.  He is tied up in remorse and regret.  Jesus knows everything about Peter and yet still wants his love and needs his service. He places the highest confidence in Peter, urging him to ‘Feed my sheep’. Commenting on this scripture, St Augustine of Hippo says that Peter recovers what he had lost. Augustine writes this beautiful sentence, full of meaning for Peter and for us: ‘Untie by love the knot that you tied about yourself through fear.’   

In this time of opening up, we may find that it takes courage to take things up as normal, and be ourselves again. We may find that others are nervous too. At this time, its more important than ever that we live in Christian faith, hope and love in order to untie knots of fear and anxiety, within and without. Faith, hope and love are the foundations from which we have the confidence to ‘open up’ and welcome others. Our Cathedral Benedictine foundation invites us to welcome one another, and welcome strangers, as though we are welcoming Christ himself. I do hope and pray that we can all grow in this kind of confidence.   

I will close with a prayer by Thomas Ken (1637 – 1711) whom we remember on 8 June. The prayer is applicable to our homes, churches and cathedrals:

 

O God, make the door of this house
wide enough to receive all who need human love and friendship
but narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride ,and malice.
Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling-block to children,
nor to straying feet,
but strong enough to turn away the power of evil.
God, make the door of this house a gateway to your eternal kingdom.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.   

Amen.  

 

With blessings and best wishes, 

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle 

Dean of Winchester 


Tuesday 18th May 2021

Dear friends,

Over the past year, it has been my pleasure and privilege to write to you weekly.  Thank you so much for giving your time to read the messages and thank you to everyone who has written back!  During the pandemic, the messages have been one of the ways the Cathedral has sought to offer pastoral support and encouragement,and to keep us connected with one another, the calendar of seasons and festivals with which the church marks holy time, and with God.

This week, following the Ascension of Christ, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, sometimes called the birthday of the church. The great German theologian, Jürgen Moltmann has written that ‘The gift and the presence of the Holy Spirit is the most magnificent and wonderful thing that can happen to us, the human community, all living beings and this earth. For present in the Holy Spirit is God himself, the God who creates life, redeems and blesses.’ Moltmann argues that this gift of the Spirit is the goal of Christ’s life, death and resurrection as it enables God’s life to live within each of us.

It is our astonishing privilege that God wants to make his home within us, an abiding presence of love and source of life and hope from within.  God’s presence abides and stays, yet also pours through us.  Like a stream of fresh clear water, the Holy Spirit moves through us to bring blessing to others. Next time your conscience pricks or you feel the need to pray, or to offer practical help to someone, it may well be the life of the Holy Spirit is flowing within you.  This Pentecost, we are all invited to open our hearts, minds and lives to the life of God once again.  As fragile and earthly human beings we can be carriers of Gods Holy Spirit.   As Moltmann says, this is a ‘magnificent and unbroken affirmation of life.’

As Pentecost 2021 approaches, it feels appropriate to be opening the doors of the Cathedral once again to visitors and to more volunteers returning to their roles. I do hope that this re-opening will help us all to take steps to living more freely and fully and, despite understandable on-going anxieties, to grow in confidence.

As restrictions lift and freedoms return, this also feels like the right time for me to bring to a close a weekly message and instead, begin to send you a monthly ‘Message from the Dean’.  The weekly newsletter is developing really well and will bring you Cathedral news, messages from the clergy and articles aimed at helping you remain connected with one another, the Cathedral and with God.  If you don’t receive the newsletter, and would like to, please do let us know, so that we can stay in touch.

We have been through a really difficult time.  We have learnt of our need of one another and our connection with the whole world.  Please continue to take care of yourself, stay connected with church and with one another, stay connected with God.

I will close with a Pentecost prayer by John V Taylor:

Spirit of God,
Lord and Giver of Life,
moving between us and around,
like wind or water or fire;
breathe into us your freshness that we may awake;
cleanse our vision that we may see more clearly;
kindle our senses that we may feel more sharply;
and give us the courage to live
as you would have us live,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

Amen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester


Tuesday 18th May 2021

Dear friends,

It was so good to see so many friendly and familiar faces at the Community Day meeting, last Sunday.  The meeting took place on Zoom and we were able to see one another, reflect  on ‘what we have learnt’ from the past year and share some hopes, challenges and opportunities for the Cathedral community at this critical time as we emerge from the pandemic.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the ‘How are you feeling’ survey. I would have loved to have been able to ask this question in person, but as we met by Zoom, a survey was the best alternative.  There was a list of many words from which to choose and the results were formed into a word cloud (see below).  Rather wonderfully, the results calibrated ‘Hopeful’ as the largest (most often chosen) response.  I really didn’t know what to expect from the survey, and clearly after the past year there are many different, sometimes contradictory, feelings around.  But it’s good to know that there is a great deal of hopefulness in our community.  As the Cathedral opens fully, as activity returns, there is much for us to look forward to!

In his book ‘Resurrection’, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, reflects on the Easter gospels, and suggests that memory is vital to hope.  Hope is learning to look forward, confident in the memory of what God has already done in Jesus.  Hope is learning to look forward, confident that despite our failings and fallings, God has loved us throughout. When the risen Jesus asks Peter, three times, whether Peter loves him, this is painful for Peter because it echoes his three-fold denial of Christ.  Jesus doesn’t wipe out the past, but recognises it, forgives and transfigures it.  Peter is made whole.  God loved us in the past, loves us now and will love us in the future.  We have every reason to step forward in hope.

If you would like to hear Archbishop Rowan talking about the resurrection and how the gospel accounts reveal their glorious insights, there is a splendid conversation with Paula Gooder online on Youtube.

This week, as those of you at the Community Day meeting will know, I am celebrating my 60th birthday. (Thank you so much for your round of applause!) I love the way that birthday celebrations don’t mark any particular achievement, other than the achievement of being alive.  On this significant birthday, I look back with profound thankfulness and look forward with hope.

Please continue to take care of yourself and others.  I will close with a prayer of blessing, based on Romans 15:13:

 

Now may the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing,
that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit;
through him who died for us and rose again,
Jesus Christ our LordAmen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester


Tuesday 4th May 2021

Dear friends,

With the arrival of May comes the welcome prospect of further opening up and recovery. On May 17th the Cathedral, currently open for prayer and reflection, is permitted to welcome visitors back once again.  It’s very good to now anticipate further Cathedral volunteers being able to return to their duties.

Gathered worship now takes place at Morning Prayer, 8.00am Monday – Saturday, (with Zoom Morning Prayer at 9.00am on Sundays), and for mid-week and Sunday Eucharists and Evensong or Evening Prayer every day. Eucharists and Evening worship are all live-streamed  which will continue as a significant part of Cathedral ministry.

The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes wrote that ‘to everything there is a season’ and there’s reason to hope that we’re about to enter a season of recovery and growth.  As the frosts draw back (at last!), the plants grow and the birds sing, I’m hoping that with the lifting of restrictions each one of us will be able to emerge into social life , in person, and feel the warmth again of human contact.

While there may be an urge to put it all behind us, I’m also hoping that we’ll take the time to reflect on what we’ve learnt and that recovery will mean building a better world.

We have learnt in the past year the profound connectedness of all humanity.  We are a global family.  A global pandemic that is able to mutate new variants has taught us that we are only safe when everyone is safe.  Reduced traffic and travel resulting in the reduction of pollution, has taught us about the negative impact of human activity on the natural world and on climate change.  Our lives are connected with the well-being of humanity and of the planet now and in the future.

As we hope to leave the season of distance and isolation behind us, lets hang on to the wisdom of lessons bought at a high price and not waste the opportunity to apply them.

The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes speaks of a time to mourn, and we will need to continue to have opportunities to remember and honour those who have died, often without the funerals we would have wished them to have. The Cathedral has plans for specific events in September, October and November.

The writer of Ecclesiastes speaks about a time to refrain from embracing and a time to embrace.  Like many people, it’s been far too long since I shared a great big hug with my son, or held my mothers’ hand.  Let’s hope that we are soon in the season of being able to embrace those whom we love!

Thank you to everyone who has shown loving care throughout this painful season through phone calls, cards and messages of kindness and concern and for those who have looked after their neighbours. Thank you to everyone who has responded to our appeal for contributions to the Winchester Basics Bank in April.

For members of the Community Roll, please do register for the Community Day Zoom meeting from 11.45am – 1.00pm at deanspa@winchester-cathedral.org.uk on Sunday 9th May. I really do hope that you can come.  This is an important time for Chapter to share plans with you for recovery and for us all to find ways to connect, recover and ‘build better’.

Please continue to take care of yourself and others.  I will close with a prayer by David Silk, slightly adapted:

 

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
whose years never fail
and whose mercies are new each returning day:
let the radiance of your Spirit renew our lives,
warming our hearts and giving light to our minds;
that we may enter the coming season with hope
and in joyful obedience, thankfulness and faith:
through him who is the beginning and the end,
your Son Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

 The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester


Tuesday 27th April 2021

Dear friends,

We don’t yet know when congregations will be able to sing together in churches and cathedrals, but meanwhile, it is wonderful to hear the adults, boys and girls of the Cathedral Choir in worship (socially distanced, of course).

The Cathedral Choir always gives me the sense that in earthly worship we join with the endless worship of the saints and the company of heaven, as the prayer says:

 

Therefore, with angels and archangels,
and with all the company of heaven,
we proclaim your great and glorious name…

 

Now, we have a new perspective and opportunity with the development of livestreaming of worship. Livestreaming opens up Cathedral worship to people, wherever they are. This can be a wonderful facility for members of the congregation including those who are house-bound or ill at home or in hospital. Many of you have told me how much you have appreciated being able to join worship at home. It’s also a wonderful means of connection with the wider world, with our international Cathedral partners and anyone searching for English Cathedral choral worship.

When the decision was taken, with the Lord Lieutenant and County Council, to host the Commemoration Service for the life of HRH Prince Phillip entirely online, we were strongly influenced by the current Covid-19 restrictions. This decision also enabled us to invite many more people online than could fit into the physical cathedral building. On the day itself, over 6,000 people joined the service and since then, it has been viewed over 100,000 times on YouTube. This is an astonishing new feature and facility of church life and one that will take time to understand. I hope that we will be able to reflect more about this at the Cathedral Community Day Zoom meeting, taking place on 9th of May.

Worship open to the world affects how we pray and causes us to check assumptions. When you worship in the cathedral, you’ll notice that the clergy will sometimes speak to people online – by looking directly at a camera – to ensure that they feel included. I do hope that you’ll support and understand when this happens.

Our vision is always partial, but God sees all. The recent Panorama programme on racism in the Church highlighted the painful truth, the subject of many past reports, that any institutional racism in the Church’s practices and structures hurts individuals and damages the body of Christ. As we worship with Christians around the globe, I hope that we will grow in awareness of our membership of the world-wide Church and the infinite variety and beauty within the body of Christ. I hope that we will challenge racism wherever we find it, including in ourselves.

Please continue to take care of yourself and others. I will close with a prayer of Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894) whom we remember this week:

 

O God almighty, by whom and before whom we are all brothers and sisters:
grant us so truly to love one another,
that evidently and beyond all doubt we may love thee;
through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord and brother.

Amen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester


Tuesday 20th April 2021

Dear friends,

‘Do you prefer to be a host, or to be a guest?’ How would you answer this interesting question? There is certainly an art to, and a pleasure, in both. I’m so looking forward to being able to sit with family and friends once again, over a meal, and in a room!

In the gospels we frequently see Jesus as the guest. He receives hospitality from both rich and poor, from establishment figures and from those regarded as sinners. He enjoys company and sometimes offers challenge to his hosts. Jesus is also himself a loving host, most famously at the Last Supper, and later in a resurrection appearance where the disciples come ashore and find that he has cooked them breakfast on the beach.

On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we welcomed Jo Bailey-Wells, the Bishop of Dorking, as a guest preacher. It felt extra-special somehow. Jo was our first visiting preacher for many months. It seemed to me that the cathedral ‘blossomed’ again by receiving a visitor and making sure that she felt welcomed and able to be herself. Perhaps this is because welcoming visitors is deeply embedded in the cathedral’s Benedictine tradition. Benedict teaches monastics to welcome guests as though welcoming Christ himself, and by welcoming them, to receive God’s blessing. This is in our DNA and so when we are unable to welcome guests, we can’t really be ourselves.

I felt a real sense of joy shared. Jo was overjoyed to be, at long last, a guest preacher again and able to offer this ministry, and we were overjoyed to offer hospitality and receive ministry from her. A joyful exchange.

As many of us prepare to return to normal patterns of life and to our volunteering roles, I hope that this sense of joy will be shared among us. It is joyful to be able to be ourselves again by doing what we enjoy, expressing what we care about and feel called to do. I hope that there will be ‘a blossoming’ in our lives. By reflecting on these things, we will be able to appreciate life, understand ourselves better, and value what is really important.

As we read the really good news that the city of Winchester is virtually Covid-free, please continue to remember those who are still affected by the pandemic, including those who are struggling to make ends meet. During April, the Cathedral is supporting the Winchester Basics Bank. Please do bring the food, toiletries and cleaning products that the Bank is asking for, to the collection point in the cathedral, or make a financial donation to help our neighbours in need. Details are on the website.

Please continue to take care of yourself and others. I will close with a prayer of St Anselm, Archbishop, whom we remember this week:

 

Grant, O Lord, that we may cleave to thee without parting,
Worship thee without wearying,
Serve thee without failing,
Faithfully seek thee, happily find thee, and for ever possess thee,
The one only God, blessed, world without end.

Amen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester


Tuesday 13th April 2021

There is only one thing in life that we can be certain of, and Prince Philip’s sad passing is a reminder of it. Please join us online, using  Winchester Cathedral’s live streaming service, at 5.30pm on Friday 16th April for the County Commemoration.  

The only other certainty we have in the Church is that things never go back to how they were. This belief stands right at the centre of Christian faith and is summed up in one word – resurrection. 

When Mary Magdalene realised that the gardener who she’d met near Jesus’ tomb was Christ risen from the dead, she tried to hold on to him. His reply was, Do not cling to me. He had not been resuscitated but changed for ever. 

If we think that returning to normal means being able to go back into pubs and on holidays abroad, then we shan’t be disappointed; but if were looking for a deeper normality where, say, our old patterns of trading and relating are resuscitated, we shall find that that ship has sailed. What a post-pandemic life will look like is anyone’s guess at present. 

The stories of resurrection show how slowly this coin drops even for those who should have understood the quickest. The first witnesses to resurrection, who run to tell his closest followers what they have experienced, are met by a wall of disbelief. Jesus’ inner circle know that just days earlier he was crucified. 

Crucifixion was not only a way of killing people; it was a way of executing people slowly, painfully and publicly, as a deterrent against crimes against the state. Anyone near the cross could have watched the life draining out of Jesus because of an incalculable strain on his lungs and heart. You do not wake up from asphyxiation. 

The first stories of resurrection are tales of fear, amazement, bafflement and disbelief, and yet, for all this, they are also stories of encounter – the new meets the old and begins to chip away at sorrow and despair. 

Someone recently asked why Jesus could not have made this newness more obvious to friends and enemies alike, so that there was no room for doubt. But there is always room for doubt. Science works very well on the basis that everything is doubtable, and that the truth can only be approached tangentially. 

Resurrection doesn’t bring the end of doubt, but a new ground for hope. It unlocks the old order and ushers in new creation. Anyone who wishes to be a public servant has to accept that ‘paradigm shifts’, as scientists call them, are not only possible but also welcome and necessary – as Prince Philip realised about the monarchy as he helped to reform it. 

Trembling and fearful we may sometimes be at the magnitude of what confronts us, and aggrieved at the lost, familiar landscape of the past, but with resurrection comes the prospect of a surprising, energising encounter with the Way, Truth and Life before us, stretching us in joy for all the adventures ahead.

Let me end with the prayer used at the first Evensong held after Prince Philip’s death: 

Eternal God, our heavenly Father, we bless your holy name for all that you have given us in and through the life of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. 

 

We give you thanks:
for his long and full life;
for his strength of character;
and for his devotion and service to family, nation and Commonwealth. 

We praise you for:
his generosity;
the many contributions he made to our national life;
and the encouragement he gave to so many, especially the young. 

Accept our thanks and praise, we pray, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Vice-Dean, The Revd Canon Roland Riem


Tuesday 6 April 2021

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia! 

Dear brothers and sisters, 

It has been a great joy to worship in the cathedral again, with congregations and choirs, to celebrate the world-changing events of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.   

I would like to thank everyone who came together again, after such a long hiatus, to enable this all to happen.  Thank you to musicians and all those who work to support the choristers, to the sidesmen, serving team, flower arrangers, clergy and virgers.  I do hope that those of you who joined online knew yourselves to be part of the worship.  I look forward to the day when other Cathedral volunteers can return to their roles too.  

The Easter gospel, from St John, invites us to make connections.  In this fourth gospel the resurrection event takes place in a garden, always a potent symbol in scripture.  God himself was the first gardener, ‘and the Lord God planted a garden in Eden’ (Genesis 2:8).  When Mary Magdalen meets her risen Lord, with tears in her eyes, she mistakes him for the gardener.  This connects us to a deep truth, that Jesus is indeed the gardener who places us, tends and cares for us, and longs for us to grow in grace and virtue.   

On the anniversary of the lockdown the Cathedral brought the garden inside, in a sense, when the great green cross was laid in the Nave, formed from grass turf, and filled with spring flowers and candles.  The cross leads to the new life of resurrection and to the new creation. Seeing the Cathedral gardeners kneel to plant the flowers spoke to me of the humility with which gardeners work with creation.   

This Easter, I believe we are challenged to make the connection between Easter and our responsibilities to care for the created world.  To kneel in penitence for our exploitation of creation and abuse of the earth, to work humbly to reduce carbon emissions and climate emergency, and to restore the soil. The risen Christ, mistaken for a gardener, calls us to care for one another and the earth.  

The risen Christ also calls us to love our neighbour. At Harvest last year the Cathedral made the commitment to support the Winchester Basics Bank for the month of April.  Sadly, the numbers of people turning to food banks has steeply increased in the last year because so many have lost work and income.  Please take a look at the Cathedral website to see what is needed now or how to make cash donationsThere is a collection point in the cathedral for groceries. 

I pray that each of us will grow in the new life of the risen Christ and that each of us will share his gifts of love, forgiveness, joy and hope with others. 

Please continue to take care of yourself and of others.  

Wishing you a very Happy Easter!  I close with an Easter blessing, 

 

May the risen Lord Jesus watch over us, tend and renew us,
as he tends and renews the whole of creation.
May our hearts and lives proclaim new life and hope.
May the blessing of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, rest upon you,
and be with you always.
 

Amen. 

 

With blessings and best wishes, 

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester


Dear friends

In these days of Holy Week I hope that each of us can draw close to Christ in his arrest, trial, passion, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. We do so after a year of extraordinary challenge and upheaval.

On the day of remembrance, which marked the anniversary of the first lockdown, a giant grass cross was laid on the floor of the Nave of the Cathedral. Partnering with Marie Curie, the bereavement charity, the cathedral gardeners planted bright daffodils that sprang up from the grass. Primroses nestled beneath. Candles were lit within and around. The beautiful image of the enormous green, growing cross caught the attention of the media and so, Winchester Cathedral became the anchor for the national noon commemoration on the BBC and featured prominently in national and local press.

There were many ways to commemorate the year, but when Canon Andy had the idea of the green cross, it felt just right for this particular time. The living and growing cross spoke of life and hope. There has been great loss, isolation and despair, but God’s love is faithful and God’s life overcomes death. As the hymn says, ‘Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.’

The green, growing cross speaks of the promises of Easter. That nothing is stronger than the power of sacrificial love. The grain of wheat gives itself to ‘die’ in the ground in order to bring new life in abundance. The cross of shame becomes then the tree of life.

After such a difficult year, I hope and pray that each of us will experience the new life, hope and confidence of Easter resurrection, in the words of the lovely hymn by J M Crum:

 

‘When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our heart that dead and bare have been;
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.’

 

I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the green cross and the worship around it. It was marvellous to see the talented cathedral gardeners take centre stage for a while!

Please do join in with in-person or live-streamed worship every day this week. In order to maintain your safety, most in-person worship is ticketed, so please contact the box office.

In addition to our own Holy Week offering, those who appreciate R S Thomas may like to know that Canon Roly is leading a series of online reflections for Chichester Cathedral, using Thomas’s poetry, which will be posted from Maundy Thursday to Easter Eve. They include bible readings and hymns from Chichester. Please see: https://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/ for further details. These will remain live for a fortnight only, for copyright reasons.

I pray that you will have a very blessed week and I will close with an Easter blessing, by Angela Ashwin:

 

May the power of the cross, the joy of resurrection,
and the presence of our risen Lord
be with you, now and always.

Amen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester


Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Dear brothers and sisters

This is a day and a week for remembrance, as we mark the anniversary of the first lockdown.  It’s been a long, hard, year of loss and mourning for many of us.  In reflection and remembrance, we can honour all those who have lost their lives, all those who mourn and we can stand with families and friends who were not able to be with dying loved ones, or attend funerals.

It’s also been a long hard year for healthcare and all essential workers and those caring for relatives.  On this anniversary of lock down we can honour everyone who has made sacrifices for the good of others. In kindness and in care, in generosity and sacrifice, we have seen the power of love overcoming the pandemic.

As I reflect on the past year it seems to me that the pandemic has exposed some truths.  Perhaps, like me, you have seen your own vulnerabilities more clearly.  Missing family and friends and missing their physical presence, hugs and smiles. Missing significant occasions that build up the bank of memories that you share with loved ones. Feeling lonely or depressed.  Perhaps you have experienced illness or emergency, of the fear of illness or emergency and not being able to find help.  Perhaps, as the hymn says, you have experienced ‘fightings and fears, within, without’.

Perhaps though, in the past long year, you have also discovered strengths and abilities that you never knew you had, of endurance, patience or resilience.   Perhaps you have learnt new skills.  Perhaps you have learnt to ask for help, or given and received, kindness.

We bring all this experience of human vulnerability and strength with us into Passiontide and Holy Week 2021.  The journey with Christ to Jerusalem and to the cross will take us from companionship and crowds to trial, isolation, pain and death.  Holy Week takes us into the most profound Christian remembrance in order to bring about a difference in our lives now.  I encourage you to make this journey and to lay your whole life, with all your strengths and weaknesses, blessings and burdens, at the foot of the cross. God has new gifts, new life and new hope in store for us all.

It is really good to welcome congregations to the Cathedral again.  For reasons of safety, Holy Week and Easter Services will be ticketed.  I look forward to sharing Holy Week and Easter with you, in person at the cathedral, or through the live-stream.  It’s going to be a deeply significant Easter journey.

Please continue to take care and to take care of others.  This week, I’ll leave you with verses from this lovely hymn by Charlotte Elliott, as a prayer:

 

Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt;
fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because they promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, thy love unknown has broken every barrier down;
now, to be thine, yea, thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come.

Amen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester

 


Tuesday 16 March 2021

Dear brothers and sisters,

With children across the nation having returned to school, it’s been a great joy to see and hear our boy choristers return to sing services, with the lay clerks, in the cathedral. I notice how they have all grown in height and I am aware of just how much time has passed in lockdown.

It is now almost a year since the first lockdown. For most of us this has been an unprecedented time of national crisis. Many of us have experienced isolation, loneliness, anxiety and despondency like never before. Many people have lost their livelihoods. Individuals and institutions have been challenged and tested daily.

Next Tuesday (23rd March) marks the anniversary of lockdown and the Cathedral will be joining with others in a national Memorial Day. The day will be an opportunity to honour and to remember the 125,000 people who have died after contracting Coronavirus in the UK, part of an estimated 2.6 million deaths across the world.Each number is a person: someone who loved and was loved. Each person known and cherished by God.

In memorial, the Cathedral gardeners will be creating a ‘green’ cross of remembrance and hope, surrounded by candles in the Nave of the cathedral. A short act of remembrance will be live-streamed at noon and, later, live-streamed Evensong will take place from around the cross.

It is intended that the green, living, cross will honour the loss of life and the sacrifice of key workers. It is hoped that the cross may be a source of consolation and hope as we look towards Holy Week and the love of Christ that takes him to the cross. The God who we know in Jesus takes grief and suffering onto himself. On the cross, Jesus shares the weight of our grief.

As we take gradual steps to recovery, lunch-time Eucharists are now taking place, on Wednesdays and Fridays, and the congregational Sunday Eucharist resumes this Sunday (21st March) on Passion Sunday. I’m very glad to say that a full programme of Holy Week and Easter worship will take place, both online and at the cathedral. For your safety these services will be ticketed. Please see the website for details.

Please continue to take care of yourself and others.

I will close with part of the prayer of St Patrick whom we celebrate on March 17th. This prayer speaks of the courage and company of faith:

 

I arise today through God’s mighty strength,
his power to uphold me,
his wisdom to guide me,
and his hand to guard me.

I arise today, through Christ’s mighty strength,
through his death and resurrection,
through the Spirit’s empowering,
through the presence of angels
and the love of the saints,
through the threefold Trinity to protect me from evil.

Amen

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle

Dean of Winchester


Tuesday 2 March 2021

Dear Friends,

‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for …’ so runs a famous definition of faith from the first century, from a letter in the New Testament.

What most people hope for at present is for things to get back to normal. Normal would include being able to get out of our homes without worry, to do the ordinary things, to open for business, to take a holiday in the sun; and top of the list, to see and touch those whom we have, for months, had to love remotely.

All these simple and wonderful aspirations we hope we shall soon be granted. They will make our lives immeasurably richer. But can it ever be a case of going back to how it was before? Sadly, this won’t be possible for those who have lost loved ones or livelihoods to the Coronavirus.

The writer of the letter I mentioned was realistic about this: we have no ‘abiding city’, he said, no resting place in this world where we can lay down absolute foundations. The virus hasn’t caused this to happen but has exposed and hastened the reality that nothing lasts for ever.

But this is where faith comes in.

Faith is a working frame for our lives. Without it, we have only fleeting moments, which we can’t rely on but can rather only enjoy as sand running through our fingers. Faith frames our often-troubled lives with an ever-lasting reality, an eternal home.

Building a cathedral is one way our ancestors attempted to say something about this. Though war and disease, with little medicine, meant they had no illusions about the transience of life, they set about building the largest and most durable structure they could.

In some ways it was just one building among others, doomed to decay; but in other ways it was a sign pointing to an abiding city prepared by God, where the living could come to look for a brighter future and even the dead could rest in hope.

If we have come to see ourselves as more fragile because of the virus, that is no bad thing in itself. We may then search for a way to become sturdier, to grow in assurance that what we find in the top layers of life, what gives us pleasure and causes us grief, is by no means the whole story.

Some people worry about this. ‘Life is not a rehearsal’, they say, fearing that a focus on anything other than what we can grasp is going to distract us from squeezing the juice out of the few moments we have left on this earth.

Life is indeed not a rehearsal, but it is not the brief, final act of a tragedy either.

By faith it becomes possible to move mountains when otherwise we may have been defeated. And the Christian faith is that this future lies not only in an afterlife, but also, here and now – as solid ground on which we can build back better, with hope.

Given the vital role of faith in our lives, members of the community will be anxious to know when the cathedral will be open again for public worship. As I have said, we are fortunate that our predecessors built a vast cathedral in which social distancing is possible, and we are confident that we can return to keeping people safe, as we have done in previous phases of the pandemic.

Chapter, in consultation with the Bishop, is designing a roadmap which fits with the wider moves out of lockdown proposed by the Government. From the week beginning 8th March, we intend to hold two weekly public services.  This will allow a good and natural spread across services:

 

  • Wednesdays, 12noon, starting 10th March – sung Eucharist (CW), Presbytery
  • Fridays, 12noon, starting 12th March – said Holy Communion (BCP), location tbc

 

The Wednesday service will be live streamed, as will additional Feast Day Eucharists at noon, whenever they occur.

We hope to develop the pattern of public worship in time for Passion Sunday, 21st March, and the following days of Holy Week. Further news about this will be available at the Open Chapter meeting on the  9th March, 7pm, which will take place by Zoom. Please contact deanspa@winchester-cathedral.org.uk, if you would like to attend.

As I write looking out of my office at home, the sunshine is giving the south side of the cathedral nave a welcoming face. There is promise in the air, well expressed in this prayer by Frank Colquhoun:

 

Lord God, with Lent we approach the springtime of the year,
when the face of the earth is renewed and life emerges out of death.

We pray that this season may be a veritable springtime for our souls,
so that our lives, quickened by the breath of the Spirit
and warmed by the sunshine of your love,
may bear abundant fruit and be made radiant with the beauty of holiness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

With blessings and best wishes,

The Vice-Dean, The Revd Canon Roland Riem

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