Dear friends,

An acquaintance told me recently of his intention to camp out overnight on the Mall to witness the King’s Coronation procession along the Royal Route in May: doubtless, thousands of other people will attempt the same, to catch a  glimpse of Charles and Camilla. In September last year, approximately 250,000 people queued to pay their respects to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, as she lay in state in Westminster Hall. For all but the most ardent republicans, were an invitation to a royal event such as the Coronation to drop through our letterbox, certainly we would clear our diaries and do everything possible to attend.

Next week is Holy Week – the most solemn season of the Christian year – and a week likewise full of royal events: on Palm Sunday, the King of Kings processes in our midst, as we hold aloft palm branches; on Maundy Thursday, he hosts a royal banquet; on Good Friday, the Son of Man is crowned with thorns, and sits astride the throne of the Cross. This is our invitation to a royal occasion, and we must do everything possible to be there. Indeed, there can be nothing more important than accompanying Our Lord in the final days of his Passion: the only valid reasons to be absent from St Mary’s during Holy Week are, first, illness or infirmity, and, second, attendance at the Holy Week liturgies at another church. Please make this week a priority: it is, after all, why the Easter weekend is designated a Bank Holiday – to facilitate our attendance at Mass.

The liturgies of Holy Week are beautiful but complex – and they require hours of hard work to put together. This Sunday, please sign up in church to assist with a number of smaller tasks, such as reading at the Easter Vigil, and having a foot washed on Maundy Thursday. Please likewise support two important events in Holy Week which take place elsewhere – Bishop Jonathan’s Chrism Mass at St Andrew, Holborn on Tuesday, 4 April at 11am, and the Kenton Group of Churches Walk of Witness on Good Friday, beginning at All Saints RC Church, Kenton at 9am. On Holy Saturday, we need all hands on deck to assist with cleaning and decorating the church for Easter: we will celebrate the touching devotion of Maria Desolata at 9am, and then work through the morning: come for as long or as little as you’re able – there’ll be hot cross buns aplenty!

Perhaps the most beautiful (and least well-known) liturgy of the Christian year is the Easter Vigil, on Holy Saturday evening at 7.30pm. This is the official start to Easter, and will be followed by celebratory refreshments – do join us!

Finally, please now return your Lent Appeal collection boxes (in aid of the Additional Curates Society), remembering to complete the Gift Aid Declaration on the back of the box, as appropriate.

May walking the Royal Route of Holy Week this year bring you blessings of peace and prosperity,

Fr Richard