April 2023

It may be the privations of Lent or it may be the delicious simnel cake which I ate on Mothering Sunday, but one way or another food is on my mind. Or rather the right food at the right time: the pleasure of things in their season.

The time for Hot Cross buns is now looming. I have always considered buns to be under-rated whether they are ‘penny buns’ as remembered or the seasonal variation for Good Friday (and maybe Holy Week too – no point being overly legalistic about these things!) although I hardly dare to think how much a penny bun costs these days. In the modern world Easter follows with some celebratory chocolate if we are so mindful – and we are none the worse for it.

If certain treats fit in well with the liturgical cycle and help to remind us of our place and part in the life of the Church, then the use of seasonal fruits and vegetables help to re-connect us with nature. I am not suggesting that anyone should restrict his diet to seasonal produce when other things are readily and reasonably available – sometimes all year round – but it is wise to note that the connection with nature and the seasons is easily lost. Both are an essential part of God’s creation and they help to define us as human beings. That said, I will never forget the need to preserve fresh produce which was a significant part of my childhood: apples – russets and bramleys – ranged in trays on the staging in the shed, Kilner jars full of fruit, the jam kettle simmering, carrots waiting to be lifted out of a tea chest filled with sand (including the odd rotten one!), potatoes in brown paper bags and onions hanging in strings. Much changed with the advent of the freezer, but the principle remains.

Such fruitful thoughts take me to Harvest Thanksgiving when by the grace of God the larders are full and we celebrate not just by offering gifts, but by eating together as a reminder that human beings are called into fellowship and work best in community. Beyond the harvest, at least in some parts of the country, there are soul cakes to be enjoyed on the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. These small cakes baked with raisins and spices are a little similar to shortbread and are made in honour of the departed. (Shrewsbury biscuits are a good alternative). Christmas brings its own joys and comforts in the depths of the winter before we return to Shrove Tuesday and a pancake or two.

There is much grace to be found in this recognition of the seasons. Seasonal foods and other observances help to connect the life of faith with nature. By such markings we are fed both in body and in spirit and find ourselves in good company, both human and divine. So, for now, have a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

Image by John Cutting on Unsplash

Sunday 26th March, Fifth Sunday of Lent
Tuesday 28th March, 8.00pm Stations of the Cross
Wednesday 29th March, 10.00am Mass
Friday 31st March, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 2nd April, Palm Sunday
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
Monday in Holy Week, 12 noon Chrism Mass at Chelmsford Cathedral
Tuesday in Holy Week, 8.00pm Stations of the Cross
Wednesday in Holy Week, 10.00am Mass

Maundy Thursday

8.00pm, Maundy Mass and Vigil

Good Friday

8.30am Morning Prayer
12 noon Devotions: ‘According to St. John’
2.00pm Liturgy of the Passion

Holy Saturday

8.30am Morning Prayer and Litany
7.00pm Easter Liturgy

Easter Day

8.00am Mass
9.30am Parish Mass

Wednesday in Easter Week, 10.00am Mass
Friday in Easter Week, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 16th April, First Sunday after Easter
no mid-week services
Sunday 23rd April, Second Sunday after Easter
Wednesday 26th April, 10.00am Mass (St. Mark, Evangelist, tr.)
Friday 28th April, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 30th April, Third Sunday after Easter
Wednesday 3rd May Mass (St. Philip and St. James, Apostles)
Friday 5th May, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 7th May Fourth, Sunday after Easter
…with a celebration of the Coronation of King Charles III