Anglican Catholic Church

Gesima-Tide 2019 Message from the Bishop

Bishop Damien writes:

I am in the last stages of planning a holiday to France and Spain. Partly rest and relaxation, but mainly restorative and in response to a very stressful past 6 months in my secular work.

Those of us lucky enough to be able to take holidays, know that prior to the journey to get to our holiday destination there will be a period of time in preparation for the journey itself. Getting suitcases down from the attic and dusting them off. Planning the route, making sure passports are to hand and all the documentation is in order. Thinking about what one might do on the journey to make the holiday even more exciting or restful. All this is part of preparing for the journey. This makes it sound as if I am very organised ? perhaps even with to-do-check-lists - But, alas I am not!

The Church Kalendar also maps out our pilgrimage or journey through life as Christians. We have had the seasons of expectation and celebration: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. This Sunday, Septuagesima, we begin Gesima-tide, or Great Lent, as it is known in some parts of the Church. This is the preparation for the journey of Lent towards Easter. It is an important stage of planning for the journey.

I think my Gesima-tide preparation is better than my holiday planning - as so it should be! I find a helpful pre-journey checklist for attitude and mental preparation for my pilgrimage through Lent towards Easter is a hymn written well over a thousand years ago by St Joseph the Hymnographer and translated by the truly blessed John Mason Neale in 1862. My personal favourite tune for which is Knecht (Hymn 418 New English Hymnal).

O happy band of pilgrims,
If onward ye will tread
With Jesus as your Fellow
To Jesus as your Head!

O happy if ye labour
As Jesus did for men;
O happy if ye hunger
As Jesus hungered then!

The cross that Jesus carried
He carried as your due;
The crown that Jesus weareth,
He weareth it for you.

The faith by which ye see him,
The hope in which ye yearn,
The love that through all troubles
To him alone will turn,

What are they but forerunners
To lead you to his sight?
What are they save the effluence
Of uncreated light?

The trials that beset you,
The sorrows ye endure,
The manifold temptations
That death alone can cure,

What are they but his jewels
Of right celestial worth?
What are they but the ladder
Set up to heaven on earth?

O happy band of pilgrims,
Look upward to the skies,
Where such a light affliction
Shall win you such a prize!

In Christ