Auckland’s Catholic and Anglican cathedral communities came together again this year in a solemn ecumenical liturgy with imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday.

The annual ecumenical liturgy was held this year at the Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell.

Pa Peter Tipene, dean of the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph, gave an apology on behalf of Bishop Patrick Dunn.

“Last week he had a cataract operation — he has been suffering from eye troubles,” Pa Tipene explained.

“And his specialist recommended that he take at least a week or two off all duties [to help] recuperation and recovery. He sends love and prayers for all of us as we begin our lenten journey.”

Bishop Dunn asked Pa Tipene to give the homily at the liturgy. The dean based his homily on the lenten reflection theme chosen this year by Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand: Te noho tahi me te aroha — living our lives with love.

Pa Tipene cited two television shows to illustrate aspects of this theme. The shows were “The Casketeers”, about staff at a Māori-run funeral home (featuring a nephew of Pa Tipene’s) and a series in which Japanese media personality Marie Kondo helps people “declutter” their homes. While there is a little humour and fun in “The Casketeers”, “what I
have loved and other people have told me they loved most was the beautiful reverence and dignity afforded to those people in care of Tipene Tangihanga,” Pa Tipene said.

“It reminds me of St Benedict — one of his rules — always keep death before you.”

“For us in Lent, one of the beautiful prayers that can be prayed at the impositi on of the ashes is “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return”.

The dean reminded people that each of us only has one life to live, and suggested
that it is fitting to ask ourselves how to live lives of love right here and now. Referring to Marie Kondo, Pa Tipene suggested a “spiritual decluttering” in Lent, to take more time for God, to find space for prayer.

“As we begin our journey of Lent — it is time to ask ourselves the question, how do I live my life with love this Lent? Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, always keeping death before us, knowing we only have one life to live, we ought to live it as fully, faithfully and passionately, with as much love as we are able to give. That is a challenge for us.”

At the prayer for the blessing of the ashes, Anglican Bishop Ross Bay referred to the need for Christians to “continually have to renew their repentance and faith”. He said: “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a
mark of our mortal nature, let us now ask God to bless these ashes”.

During the imposition of the ashes, the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph’s Choir sang “Ashes Alone”, by T. Weed. The Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir sang “Agnus Dei” from the Missa Brevia by G.P. de Palestrina.

The St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Vocal Ensemble sang “Aus Tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir” by J.S. Bach and the combined choirs sang “Wash Me Throughly” by S. Wesley.

The “prayers of the people” were led by Sr Leona Garchow, RSM.

Christchurch bishop preaches at combined service
by NZ CATHOLIC staff

Catholics, Anglicans and people of other Christian denominations gathered at the Christchurch Anglican Transitional Cathedral to mark Ash Wednesday with the distribution of ashes, the Food for Faith website reported.

Bishop Paul Martin, SM, of Christchurch preached the homily. The following are some quotes from the homily, which was posted in full at www.foodforfaith.

“According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, then our words of prayer are empty. Lent leads us to God,” he said.

“The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; the heart is the place
‘to which I withdraw’.”

“The heart is our hidden centre, beyond the grasp of our reason and protected from the influence of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth,
where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because we humans are created to live in relationship, relationship with God which enables healthy relationship with one another. Lent leads us into relationship.”

“So when we pray, whether we are in church, the home or workplace, in a crowd or in the solitude of our room with the door closed, we are making the journey to the secret sanctuary of our heart where we are most ourselves. Note that this is not always a comfortable or comforting experience since the heart is a place of reality and our reality is often not what we might want or like. Lent leads us to reality.”

“The world in which we live often threatens to lead us away from the life of the heart to what is less real, focusing on what is external and superficial. But our Christ-centred perspective reminds us we can grow and thrive in this ‘outer’ world only when we are at peace with ourselves and with God in the depth of our heart. The world might offer us
comfort, but we are not made for comfort. Instead, we are created to live life abundantly
with God now and for eternity. Lent challenges us to live abundantly.”

“Perhaps our past experience of Lent is marked by giving up things we enjoy with the understanding that six weeks of self-denial and even mortification once a year is good for us! But if we focus on this, we are missing the point. If Lent is to be for us individually and for the Christian church, a season of growth, we must be truly radical, getting to the root, the heart of our faith, that is, relationship with Jesus Christ. And, at the same time, we
must be truly conservative, conserving the beauty of our Christian life, faith, rites and tradition. This is not a balancing act of weighing up doctrine against pastoral attentiveness, but a healthy receiving from the wisdom of our ancestors helping us to live in the reality of the present challenging circumstances. Lent is a spring-time of faith tangible and visible
here in our twenty-first century city.”

“And it is Christ who brings us together tonight, Anglican and Catholic with friends, to focus again on what is essential. We are united by the challenges we face here in this place. We are at a spring-time of faith in our dioceses, with citizens hungry for mature and adult
faith. Perhaps earthquakes have given us an opportunity that has not existed since our Christian ancestors arrived in this land. Lent gives an opportunity to think and plan and build and rebuild with re-born minds and hearts. Lent calls us to new vision.”