Lichfield Cathedral is welcoming local people and visitors once more. Its website offers a range of attractions and experiences as well as the regular and seasonal services which are the very reason for its existence. We like the look of this library tour; 35 spiral steps will set you up for the calm of the library. There are activities for children during school holidays.
Climb the spiral staircase to see one of the Cathedral’s best loved treasures, the Library, for yourself and explore some of our fascinating collection.
In 2023 we investigate ‘Journeys and Exploration’, a chance to discover how our understanding of the world and local area has changed through the centuries.
Take a journey from Staffordshire around the globe, delve into beautifully illustrated map-books and charts, and uncover insights from James Cook’s voyages.
Each tour lasts around 1. 5 hours
Daytime tours Tours – Starting at 10:30
Saturday 11 March Saturday 22 April Saturday 27 May Saturday 17 June
Saturday 29 July Saturday 12 August Saturday 16 September Saturday 21 October
Candlelit tours – starting at 19:30
Friday 10 March Friday 26 May Friday 16 June
Friday 28 July Friday 11 August Friday 15 September
This atmospheric tour takes place in the evening under LED candlelight.
‘C’ is Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish thinker who was a friend of WIlliam Allingham, the Irish poet and editor, whose diary entry we share from this day in 1878. William Lecky was an Irish historian and politician, married to a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of the Netherlands. Friedrich Wilhelm was the German Kaiser. The illustration is from a Methodist book for children.
C. spoke of Darwinism. ‘ I don’t care three ha’pence for the Darwinian Theory.’
By and by he said, ‘ It is impossible to believe otherwise than that this world is the work of an Intelligent Mind, The Power which has formed us — He (or It — if that appears to any one more suitable) has known how to put into the human soul an ineradicable love of justice and truth.
‘The best bit for me in Kant is that saying of his, ” Two things strike me dumb with astonishment — the Starry Heavens and the Sense of Right and Wrong in the Human Soul.” These physical gentlemen ought to be struck dumb if they properly consider the nature of the Universe.’
Mrs. Lecky suggested that investigation as well as reverence was natural to man, and would not Mr. Carlyle permit inquiry ?
‘Oh yes,’ he said (half jestingly), ‘ man is full of curiosity — but I would order these people to say as little as possible. Friedrich Wilhelm’s plan would be the right one with them, ” Hold your tongue or else — ” ‘
My impression of scientists is that many of them do indeed have a sense of reverence as well as the instinct for investigation. We owe a great deal of whatever security we have to the work of scientists. The young surgeon who spoke to me after operating on my brain described his awe at seeing my brain within my opened skull: a privileged view of human life shared by very few people. He was all but lost for words.
Two elderly sisters living out their days together after a life of service. They were both compromised physically, but were still managing to stay in their old home. Like the religious sisters we met yesterday, their Christian vocation did not end with retirement, pooling their capabilities to make sure the household still functioned. Although they could not get to church or the shops any more, they could offer the traditional cup of tea to a visitor, and they could still enjoy a good chat.
On this occasion the visitor was the parish priest, and after their short Communion Service, as he nibbled his ginger nut the conversation turned to the parish finances, which were not very healthy. Father went on at some length and in some detail, a worried man. But there was precious little his audience could do to help him.
At length one of the sisters piped up prophetically: ‘Father dear, stop dragging your cross, pick it up and get on with carrying it!’
Perhaps, like this good priest, we need a chance to let off steam but we also need someone to challenge us to be true to ourselves and the sometimes discouraging duties of our vocation. This Holy Week, let us pray to see our cross, indeed all our problems, in the perspective of the Cross of Jesus.
We have been looking at different aspects of Christian vocation these last few days. Yesterday Bishop Erik Varden pointed us to the daily sacrifices through which we unite ourselves to the great Sacrifice of Christ. The daily sacrifices don’t have to be unpleasant: Mrs Turnstone often remarks: ‘I thought being a parent would stop when they left home.’ No! There is another generation who need love, care, support. We are not, thank God, the sort to retire to the golf course or prolonged tours on floating cruise cities, all needs catered for. there are family and friends on terra firma whose needs and gifts we are called to share.
I was recently reading the thoughts of some American religious sisters on their vocations.
Sister Carol Zinn Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia said, ‘I am a sister until I draw my last breath, not until I can’t physically do my ministry anymore. Structures always follow relationships. Structures don’t come first, relationships do, whatever the structure will look like, it will respond to the relationships.’
We will be good parents, good grandparents, good friends, when we take care of the relationships. Which reminds me of my Resolution to write a couple of letters or emails each day in Lent to friends or relations I’ve perhaps been a little neglectful of lately. A structure conceived to support relationships.
Last month we heard from Pope Benedict about Mary’s ‘yes’; here are Saint Bernard’s reflections, from a homily In Praise of the Virgin Mother. (Hom. 4:8-9; Opera omnia, Edit Cisterc 4. , 53-54)
The whole world awaits Mary’s reply
You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.
Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.
Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.
Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.
I look upon it as a great grace that in spite of my tepid life Jesus has given me an ardent desire to love Him. I long eagerly to love my Jesus passionately, with an intense ardent love such as the saints had; and yet I remain cold and indifferent with little zeal for His glory.
Fr Willie Doyle S.J. wrote these words during the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises, you can read the full diary entry if you follow this link.
Surely most of us remain ‘cold and indifferent with little zeal’ for much of the time. We talk of getting through the week on autopilot. We cannot all give up four weeks to follow the Exercises of Saint Ignatius. We hardly notice Lent is underway; indeed we go to work, cook the meals, get the children to school, change a nappy. We may be so tired, so tepid, that we cannot feel ardent as we go about our duties, but Jesus says we will be judged on what we did to the little ones, not how passionate our feelings were. Sometimes love demands above all perseverance and faithfulness in little things; sometimes getting on with undesirable or dangerous tasks, at risk of injury, infection or insult. Indeed, sometimes we need to be cold and indifferent to get on with the task in hand.
I came across Fr Doyle when reading about sacrifice in the Great War, 1914-18. Some years after this entry he volunteered as a military chaplain and won a reputation as a brave pastor to the men he served with. He would go out into No Man’s Land to bring back the wounded or give them the sacraments. He is considered a Servant of God, and his cause for canonisation has begun. The link will open within the official website of the cause.
More reflections on vocation tomorrow and the following day when we hear Mary’s ‘yes’ and follow where it led her.
The Feast of Saint Joseph is translated from yesterday, Sunday 19 March. This post is from Pope Francis’s general audience of Wednesday, 15 December 2021
Saint Joseph, man of silence
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Let us continue our journey of reflection on Saint Joseph. After illustrating the environment in which he lived, his role in salvation history and his being just and the spouse of Mary, today I would like to consider another important personal aspect: silence. Very often nowadays we need silence. Silence is important. I am struck by a verse from the Book of Wisdom that was read with Christmas in mind, which says: “While gentle silence enveloped all things, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven”. [In] the moment of greatest silence, God manifested himself. It is important to think about silence in this age in which it does not seem to have much value.
The Gospels do not contain a single word uttered by Joseph of Nazareth: nothing, he never spoke. This does not mean that he was taciturn, no: there is a deeper reason. With his silence, Joseph confirms what Saint Augustine writes: “To the extent that the Word — the Word made man — grows in us, words diminish”. To the extent that Jesus, — the spiritual life — grows, words diminish. What we can describe as “parroting”, speaking like parrots, continually, diminishes a little. John the Baptist himself, who is “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’” ( Matthew 3:3), says in relation to the Word, “He must increase, but I must decrease” ( John 3:30). This means that he must speak and I must be silent, and with his silence, Joseph invites us to leave room for the Presence of the Word made flesh, for Jesus.
Joseph’s silence is not mutism; it is a silence full of listening , an industrious silence, a silence that brings out his great interiority. “The Father spoke a word, and it was his Son”, comments Saint John of the Cross, — “and it always speaks in eternal silence, and in silence it must be heard by the soul”.
Jesus was raised in this “school”, in the house of Nazareth, with the daily example of Mary and Joseph. And it is not surprising that he himself sought spaces of silence in his days (cf. Mt 14:23) and invited his disciples to have such an experience by example: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while” (Mk 6:31).
How good it would be if each one of us, following the example of Saint Joseph, were able to recover this contemplative dimension of life, opened wide in silence. But we all know from experience that it is not easy: silence frightens us a little, because it asks us to delve into ourselves and to confront the part of us that is most true. And many people are afraid of silence, they have to speak, and speak, and speak, or listen to radio or television… but they cannot accept silence because they are afraid. The philosopher Pascal observed that “all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber”.
PRESS RELEASE N.3 This Synod Assembly is over, but the synodal and missionary Church is moving forward! After a morning dedicated to the practice of spiritual conversation in working groups on the draft Final Document that will be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod by 31 March, this afternoon the participants gathered in plenary assembly to share the fruits of the morning’s work. Much of the afternoon was devoted to perfecting the final document with corrections and amendments. It was an arduous but true collegial work where everyone was able to express their opinion. The assembly managed to approve a set of priorities that it intends to offer as Africa Synod document to the universal Church for the work of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
The ad hoc group of experts who, since the seminaries in Accra and Nairobi, have been working on the Addis Ababa Synodal Assembly document, will continue to refine the document according to the indications received from the Assembly before sending it to the General Secretariat of the Synod.
In their closing remarks cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, who hosted the meeting, said “We are all Africans, so let us be free to move anywhere, to journey together, especially our youth who aspire to go to go Arab region of Africa and South Africa in search of greener pastures. SECAM can not only be the voice of Africa but also the point of reference”.
Bishop Lucio Muandula, first vice-president of Secam, quoted psalm 133 “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes” to express his satisfaction and reminded how “Journeying together gives us the strength to overcome any problems and challenges.”
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Rapporteur of the 16th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops, expressed his joy and satisfaction on the work of the assembly. “I would like to thank God and all of you for this wonderful time of listening, of listening with empathy. In all continental assemblies I have found a catholic way of journeying together, of synodality through the spiritual conversation where sisters or brothers are a place where the Holy Spirit speaks to us and where we are all called to conversion in order to serve the world”. And referring particularly to the last session, he stated “I must say that I admire you for the passion you put in this last debate. It shows that the Church in Africa is living and that God’s Spirit is living in you”.
Then, the President of Secam, cardinal Fridolin Ambongo closed officially the meeting saying “We have come to the end of this historic Continental Plenary Assembly of the Synod on Synodality. […] These days we have been together at this Synod Assembly were not only a moment to talk about synodality, but a moment of experiencing synodality. We truly felt like a family, the family of God in Africa and the Islands that walks together, sharing joy and sorrows of our time.
Focusing on the exercise of listening, cardinal Ambongo recognized that “listening to each other and to the Holy Spirit, helped us to reach consensus in dealing with the delicate themes that the Church is living today on the continent and the Islands, and to identify the priorities of the Church in Africa.
This Syond Assembly is over, but the synodal and missionary Church is moving forward!” The President of Secam then concluded that “Renewed through the celebration of this continental synodal assembly, the Church in Africa and Islands commits to move on, especially by deepening the sense of being a Church-family, making it a place of mutual listening and listening to the Holy Spirit, a place of communion, forgiveness and reconciliation. Renewed by the celebration of this synodal assembly, the Church in Africa commits to enlarge the tent of inclusion by following the Gospel principle of conversation as the criteria”.
Give us the mind of Jesus,
something of his brave heart,
as we sail over the waters of experience.
And days of sunshine.
And favouring winds.
And stars to be our guide when the sun is set.
Yet this is but half our asking.
Lord of pity,
when trouble rises, as a storm,
turning our trust to fear,
bring us into the quiet place of thy presence
and be our haven.
From Hebridean Altars by Alistair Maclean.
Wherever we are, let us follow the guidance of a star as surely as the fisherman away up in the islands. Let us pray for the grace to be quiet in God's haven, letting him turn our fears into trust.
On the First Friday in March every year a service is held where a chosen country produces materials for the world to worship. As the materials are written the World Day of Prayer motto INFORMED PRAYER, PRAYERFUL ACTION is set in motion.
World Day of Prayer is a prayer movement, not for just one day a year but throughout the year. World Day of Prayer, a worldwide, women-led, ecumenical Prayer Movement.
A new year has dawned
We are on the countdown to World Day of Prayer 2023, on Friday 3 March – we hope you will join with us in the huge wave of prayer for Taiwan which will encircle the earth for at least 38 hours. It will be awesome to be part of something so huge! Services will be held the length and breadth of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and we will share in stories of faith of Taiwanese women.
Over the past year, we, and our faith, have been tested and challenged. As 2023 stretches before us, it will certainly have its challenges as well as opportunities, so let us resolve to refocus our faith and trust in God anew. Let us bring everything to Him in prayer – our hope and fears, our dreams and tears – and walk through the unknown year, with what it will bring, with our hand securely held in His. For there is no better place to be.
From Together in Prayer: I have heard about your faith by Jacqui Keenan, 2023
Lord of all, today with your people around the world, we pray:
for faith to believe that you rule the world in truth and righteousness;
for faith to believe in the power of your love to melt our hard hearts and lovingly to forgive our sin;
for faith to see your purposes of love unfolding in the happenings of today;
for faith to believe that if we seek first your Kingdom and righteousness, you will provide for all our needs;
for faith to take no anxious thought for tomorrow but to believe that you will be with us in the future as you have been in the past;
for faith to be calm and trusting in the face of challenges and difficulties as we seek obediently to follow you knowing that in your power alone we are made strong and that your love will never fail us;
for faith to leave in your hands the care of all those whose lives are intertwined with ours.
Thank you for the blessings you have given us and grant us strength to walk in the ways you lead us. May we know your deep peace through Jesus Christ our loving Lord. Amen