Eighth Week in Ordinary Time and the celebrations of Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

TINTORETTO, The Temptation of Christ (1579-81), Oil on canvas, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice

SUNDAY 26th February – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mass in Holy Rood.

Entrance Antiphon
“The Lord became my protector. He brought me out to a place of freedom”.

MONDAY 27th February

We drive back from Lincolnshire to London.

Entrance Antiphon
“The Lord saved us because he delighted in us”.

TUESDAY 28th February – Shrove Tuesday

Archbishop Cushley of Edinburgh and St Andrews says Mass in the crypt. An obviously calm presence.

I chair Westminster Hall and go to the International Trade Select Committee.

I come home to pancakes after my mindfulness course.

WEDNESDAY 1st March – Ash Wednesday

Here it goes. The start of Lent. I will give up chocolate and alcohol – only a glass or two of wine in the evening before I get bored at some dinner.

A usual highlight of Ash Wednesday is Allegri’s Miserere in the Cathedral.

We agree our first one hundred and thirty page report in the International Trade Select Committee and have witnesses on the Great Repeal Bill in the Procedure Committee. Until my question no one seems to have spotted that the 2018 bill can do the opposite of the 1972 bill which was very short; simply signing in all the ECC acquis very briefly.

THURSDAY 2nd March
I meet with the Quebec Minister who has some interesting ideas on how Canada has dealt with the Quebec issue. They have full fiscal autonomy which is what I argued for for Scotland, and a comprehensive equalisation grant to ensure all provinces end up the same. Much more sensible than us.

In the evening I join local residents to object to the siting of the Holocaust Memorial taking up half a Royal Park. Generations of Londoners have fought for these parks.

Psalm 1
“Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord”.

FRIDAY 3rd March

We go to my cousin John Reeves’ funeral in Norfolk – a good service in Reepham’s church. Unusually there are two churches there side by side. After fifty years he did not want to leave Norfolk and he did not; he fell over and hit his head the day he was moving to Hampshire.

A lovely man, he was widowed with four boys when the youngest was only eight and he sacrificed his career to look after them.

Psalm 50
“A humble, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn”.

SATURDAY 4th March

I am at Downside for an Oblates meeting.

In the afternoon I am sitting alone in the Abbey Church. Outside I can hear some very young children laughing and playing.

Like a piercing truth, I understand the importance of the life of every child and the sadness of all the lost ones. To bring a child into the world is always worth the sacrifice.

Later I am standing in the lounge in the guest wing and I decide to take a book out of the bookcase randomly.

My hand lands on a book by a Canon of Wells Cathedral – ‘God is nearer than breath’.

What a coincidence. I am doing a mindfulness course where we are told to meditate by concentrating on breathing.

The author here is making the point that God is very close; indeed is everywhere. If only we could see this and realise it our life would be transformed.

As usual I sit in the choir for Vespers and Compline. I am beginning to understand my way around the Hymnal and other books. Sadly I won’t here be able to sing but I can listen.

I think often of God, closer than my breath.

“The Lord will always guide you, giving you relief in desert places.
He will give strength to your bones.
And you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never run dry”
Isaiah 58:9-14.