Cathedral celebrates patron’s feast day

In the Archdiocese of Birmingham on Thursday 2 March we commemorated our diocesan patron, St Chad.

As a Feast Day Mass we welcomed the Chapter of Canons, who form the governing body of the Cathedral, caring for it and for its liturgical life.

They are also the College of Consultors who advise the Archbishop about the life and mission of the Archdiocese.

We also welcomed Year 5 pupils from St Chad’s Primary School who attended and also provided servers for the Mass.

In his homily, Archbishop Bernard Longley asked: “So what it is about St Chad that still captures our imagination and fires our devotion today, nearly thirteen centuries after his death? 

“We can learn a great deal about the Church’s mission and our task of evangelization through the story of St Chad. 

“Although we live in a very different age we can still recognise the essential elements of his missionary work based on a strong faith in Christ which we share with St Chad and the growing Church of his time.

“When we think about this great saint of the Midlands we are drawn deeper into the penitential character of Lent.  If Lent is a spiritual pilgrimage, then the whole of St Chad’s life was a pilgrimage of faith out of familiar territory and into the unknown. 

“From his earliest days he was on the road, like the seventy-two disciples sent out by the Lord, visiting villages and settlements, teaching and preaching to the people.”

Read full homily

The Gospel

Luke 10:1-9 ©

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit.

He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.

Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.

Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”’

Who was St Chad?

By Deacon Paul O’Connor

St Chad was one of four brothers who were educated at Lindisfarne and lived in the tumultuous times of 7th century Anglo-Saxon England, where there was conflict between competing territories and dispute in the Church between the ancient western churches established in Roman times and those in the south from St Gregory the Great’s mission by St Augustine of Canterbury.

Out of this ultimately came calm, but it needed strong leadership and a clear focus on the teachings of Christ. One such leader was St Chad. He was abbot at Lastingham and his life was centred on prayer, learning and eschatological reflections.

Plague struck the hierarchy of the Church and he became Bishop of Northumbria but the legitimacy of his apostolic succession was disputed to the point that the in-coming Archbishop of Canterbury Theodore of Tarsus removed him but continued his status as bishop due to his great humility in accepting his decision.

This held him in good stead when Theodore installed him as Bishop of Mercia after its king Wulshere converted to Christianity. St Chad set up a monastery at Lichfield. This became the centre of the diocese and the Cathedral is in the area.

He was Bishop of Mercia for only a short period of two years before succumbing to plague but it is said that what he did was vital in re-establishing Christianity in the area.

He was recognised as a saint soon after his death and his remains were held at his shrine at Lichfield until 1538 when it was dissolved by King Henry VIII.

Most of his remains were destroyed but a small number of bones were kept safe and there is a fascinating story about how they were looked after and venerated during the recusant period before arriving at Oscott College at the time when Birmingham’s new cathedral was being built.

The remains included a detailed explanation of how they came to be and Pope Gregory XVI instructed that they be housed at the Cathedral and it is named after him.

Let us give thanks for the example of St Chad, particularly that we be aware of our own need to be at one with Christ at our death; and let us pray for the Church in our Archdiocese, its people, its schools, its clergy and especially our own Archbishop Bernard that he would lead us wisely in these days.

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