As we leave Candlemas behind, I want to send you all - all priests and deacons affiliated to The Society and others in our parishes - my prayers that Lent will once more be a blessing, a real springtime in our priestly discipleship. During it let us all pray for one another, and for our witness in the Church of England, for a new intensity, focus, and dedication.
We shall next meet in large numbers during Holy Week, and I hope that you look forward to the Chrism Masses as much as I do. It is my hope that both clergy and laity will gather in greater numbers this year.
1 Venues for 2018
As has become our settled pattern, we will celebrate regionally.
Included with this letter are two or three posters for the church(es) where you serve. Please place them prominently, and promote the event best suited to your parish in parish literature.
I trust that attending the Chrism Mass is a personal ministerial priority, and encourage all other priests and deacons associated with your parish or community to do so too.
It is, of course, customary for priests to concelebrate the Chrism Mass with the Bishop, and therefore - to help all concerned with preparations - I enclose a reply form is downloadable from this website. Please fill it in and return to my office - as soon as possible, but by Monday 19 March at the latest.
Please would you discuss arrangements with all other clergy in the parish, and ensure that names are either on one or on separate reply cards, or they write direct to me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to duplicate this letter for their information.
This will help us here in the office, and the local priests liaising with cathedral staff, to ensure that enough vestments, service papers, sets of oils etc are provided.
Two further points:
a) if, for some reason, you cannot be present, I would be grateful if you would write to me personally and say so; and
b) if any of you knows of a sick or elderly priest who cannot be present, please would you let me know.
I also hope we can all extend a particular encouragement to the laity to join us too. I shall send by email a note to be added to parish newsletters and the like to help, but your encouragement will I’m sure be crucial. It helps of course to know approximate numbers of laity - again by Monday 19 March please to email@example.com.
Readers are welcome to robe, and we shall reserve places for them at the front of the congregational seating – but we need to know their names too.
4 On the day
Clergy should only need to bring an alb and (as belt and braces) a white stole.
In all three venues all oils will be provided in plastic bottles at the end of the Mass, but you are free to bring your own containers should you wish.
At St Mary’s Bathwick (Monday 26 March) you will need to be in the Church Hall on the south side of the church, off the cloister, robed and ready by 1.30 pm.
At Exeter Cathedral (Tuesday 27 March), you will need to be in the Lady Chapel (at the far east of the church), robed and ready by 11.00 am.
At Lichfield Cathedral (Wednesday 28 March) you will need to be in the Chapter House, robed and ready by 11.00 am.
In each venue, 2 litres of each oil are blessed.
Last year some parishes took more than one set, so that not all could take a set away. On the day one set of oils per church should be collected by you or a lay member of your congregation. Further supplies may always be requested from my office where remaining stocks are kept.
With prayers and every blessing
+ Jonathan Ebbsfleet