2nd Sunday of Lent

‘THE TRANSFIGURATION’

“Reality or vision, this we have seen.
If it had lasted but another moment
It might have held for ever! But the world
Rolled back into its place, and we are here,
And all that radiant kingdom lies forlorn,
As if it had never stirred; no human voice
Is heard among its meadows,but it speaks
To itself alone,alone it flowers and shines
And blossoms for itself while time runs on”. (1)

Thus writes the Scottish Poet Edwin Muir (1887-1959) in the concluding verses of his poem ‘The Transfiguration’. His words reflect the spontaneous outburst of the apostle Peter who said “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you,one for Moses and one for Elijah”. Which one of us would not wish to hold on to the moment of ecstasy, the moment of beauty,the moment of revelation, when all is clear and we are removed from the turmoil of everyday living?

The purpose of the Transfiguration account is different,however. In Matthew’s gospel, it is placed immediately after Jesus predicts his passion, suffering and death which will take place on another mountain. The agony and the ecstasy are two parts of the one story. He must die in order to rise again and transform the world and the life and death of each person in it.

How difficult for Peter, and for all of us, to accept this reality. During this Season of Lent we follow Jesus in a particular way, on the Way of the Cross, and all that signifies in the life of those who believe in Him. The cross is raised,not on the Mount of Transfiguration, but on the Mount of Calvary. On Good Friday we venerate the wood of the cross, the instrument of our salvation. It is only when we recognise in the crucified one who takes all suffering and sin into Himself and remains faithful to God and to the whole of the human race, do we get some glimpse into the meaning of suffering in our own lives.

For so many people, suffering is a waste of time and nothing good can be said of it. We question the very existence of God when individual suffering and the suffering of whole peoples become too much to bear. “Where is God in the midst of this suffering?” we often ask. “Here,” says Jesus with arms outstretched on the cross. Our veneration of the cross,our embrace of the wood of the cross, is our affirmation that no time is wasted in which God is served. The service of God is the sanctification of time. And,perhaps,it is when we are laid low, when we are powerless, when we have time on our hands, that the grace of God is available to us in a special way. The traditional devotion of “offering up” our suffering has a profound effect on what we have to bear.

The motto of the 11th century Carthusian Order is a very powerful one: “Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis -The cross stands while the world turns” (2) This points to the contrast between the steadfastness of the cross and the busyness of the world. Cardinal Basil Hume put this in a different way when he wrote “It is only when we contemplate the cross (in our own lives) that the cross of Jesus yields up its mysteries”. He himself had his Transfiguration experience in the two short months between the diagnosis of terminal cancer and his death. When the doctors first told the Cardinal of his advanced cancer, he went straight to the hospital chapel and prayed. “I had preached so often on the seven last words of Jesus from the Cross”,he said. “Now it was wonderful to find that they were such a part of me”. All during that initial period of waiting for death he found,to his delight, that his prayer was amazingly sweet,full of consolation. But then,to quote him “the curtain came down, and it was back to the darkness of faith. “But I wasn’t worried,” he said, “because I knew what was beyond the curtain”. (3).

All three synoptic gospels tell the story of the Transfiguration. It must have had a profound impact on those early Jewish followers of Jesus – not least the encounter with Moses and Elijah, personifying the teaching of the Law and the Prophets. The bright cloud which enveloped the scene evoked the ‘shekinah’ which was nothing less than the glory of God. Reminiscent,too, of the pillar of cloud which was to lead the people out of slavery in Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. At the time of the crucifixion both Matthew and Luke describe “the darkness which covered the earth” from the sixth to the ninth hour. In one way,far removed from the “bright cloud” on the Mount of the Transfiguration. Yet the same glory was being revealed – the faithful One, glorifying God in his obedience and unending love for the whole of creation.

Reality or vision, this we have seen.
If it had lasted but a moment
It might have held forever! But the world
Rolled back into its place, and we are here,
And all that radiant kingdom lies forlorn. (4)

“And we are here”. On this Second Sunday of Lent. In this church. At this unique moment in our precious lives. Preparing to enter once more into the life giving death of Jesus which we celebrate in the Paschal Mystery.

ARCHBISHOP GEORGE STACK

Footnotes:

  • ‘The Transfiguration’ by Edwin Muir. Collected Poems. Faber and Faber.
  • Carthusians of St. Bruno
  • Homily of Bishop John Crowley at the funeral of Cardinal Hume
  • ‘The Transfiguration’ by Edwin Muir. Collected Poems. Faber and Faber.

Joy as Seminarian ordained

Following on from the call to look towards the future with hope as expressed with the centenary celebrations at the start of the week, today we celebrate with joy as Daniel Stanton, one of the seminarians of the Diocese, was ordained to the Diaconate this morning at St. Mary's College, Oscott ... Read more

Cathedral blooms as flower festival begins

St David's Cathedral is blooming with colour and the scent of hundreds of flowers as the centenary flower festival gets underway ... Read more

Breathtaking festival comes to an end

In what has been a 'first' a very successful and breathtaking Festival of Flowers has drawn to a close at St. David's Cathedral ... Read more

A MASSIVE thank you!

It has been so busy in recent weeks that we have seemed to have missed two major milestones for our social communications ... Read more

Centenary celebrations continue with visit to the former seat of the bishops

As the Diocese continues to celebrate its centenary year, we look back on our history and give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon the Church in our small part of the world ... Read more

Remembering the victims of the Arandora Star

Archbishop George Stack is pictured with Fr. Andrea Bord of St. Mary’s Canton at the commemoration of the Arandora Star tragedy held at St. David’s Cathedral on Sunday 3 July ... Read more

Right Reverend Dom Jerome Hodkinson OSB - R.I.P.

Of your charity pray for the repose of the soul ... Read more

Canon Sean Kearney R.I.P.

With sadness we have learned of the death of Canon Sean Michael Kearney in Bantry Hospital, West Cork, on Friday evening ... Read more

Remembering Abbot Jerome Hodkinson R.I.P.

On the Feast Day of St. Martha and St. Mary (July 29th) the community of Belmont Abbey laid to rest one of their former Abbots Rt. Rev. Abbot Jerome Hopkinson O.S.B. who died earlier in the month. During the Requiem Mass the current Abbot of Belmont, Rt. Rev. Paul Stonham offered the following words in remembrance. Read more

Muslim Council of Wales offers condolences and support following recent events in France

Following the recent killing of French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel at the hands of an extremist, Salem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales sent the following message to Archbishop George Stack: Read more

Opening Doors – A chance for a new start

Are you ready to invite someone you know to step through a Door of Mercy? When Pope Francis established a Year of Mercy, he adapted a symbol that the Catholic Church has used for centuries. In the past, the Holy Door was reserved to the principal church in Rome; pilgrims travelled there to demonstrate their faith and commitment... Read more

Offeren yr Eisteddfod/Eisteddfod Mass 2016

Daeth cynulleidfa fawr ynghyd i ddathlu’r Offeren yn eglwys y plwyf, Y Fenni ar ddechrau mis Awst. Roedd yn achlysur arbennig iawn a chroeso’r plwyf yn gynnes a chofiadwy. Read more

Earthquake in Italy

We are saddened by the news this morning of the earthquake in Italy. As the death toll continues to rise we pray for the people of Amatrice and the surrounding areas affected by the devastation. Read more

Prayer and Solidarity with the People of Italy

It is impossible for us to imagine the pain and suffering being endured by the people of that area at the present time. +George Stack Read more

Mission to the Doors of Mercy

Each day from the 19th to 24th September, the Diocesan Evangelisation Team will be at one of the Holy Door Churches. Read more

Service acknowledged in Cardiff parish

On the weekend of the 10th/11th September 2016, Archbishop George Stack visited the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, Gabalfa with St Teilo's, Whitchurch to thank and award the hard work of two long standing parishioners ... Read more

Holy Doors Week

Last week, local parishioners and members of the Diocesan Evangelisation Team offered an invitation to a meal and a prayerful experience at each of the five Doors of Mercy across the Archdiocese of Cardiff. Hundreds of people accepted the invitation to share a meal at table; many took the opportunity to pass through the Holy Door and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Read more

Pope Francis receives our new Ambassador

On 19 September 2016, Mrs.Sally Jane Axworthy MBE, presented her Letters of Credence to His Holiness Pope Francis, accrediting her as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See. Read more

Full Time Evangelisation Position

The Archdiocese of Cardiff is seeking a talented organiser and communicator passionate about the Catholic Faith. Read more

50 years on: Wales remembers

It was on this day 50 years ago that a landslide of coal from the Aberfan colliery covered the local school claiming the lives of 116 children and 28 adults ... Read more

Cornerstone offers exciting new community and arts venue for Cardiff

After two years of development and a £1.2m Heritage Lottery grant the former Ebeneser Chapel opposite St. David's Cathedral on Charles Street in Cardiff has finally opened its doors as the new community and arts venue for Cardiff ... Cornerstone ... Read more

The Art of Dying Well

As we start November the dark nights creep in with changing of the clocks, the leaves of the trees die and fall to the ground, and our mind turns to those people we have loved who have died as we commemorate the Holy Souls ... Read more

Diocese visits the seat of Government

On Tuesday 15th November over 50 members of the Archdiocese of Cardiff made the journey to London to visit the seat of UK Government at Parliament by invitation of the Secretary of State for Wales, Rt. Hon. Alun Cairns M.P. ... Read more

Belmont Monks elect Abbot for unprecedented third term

On the morning of 16th November 2016, Dom Paul Stonham was re-elected Abbot of Belmont for a third term of eight years ... Read more

New Year – New Evangelisation

2017 sees a fresh start to the work of the Archdiocese of Cardiff’s Evangelisation Team! Thanks to funding made available by an anonymous donor, we have been able to employ a full-time Evangelisation & Education Officer, Miss Madeline Page ... Read more

Prince of Wales officially opens Cornerstone

Cornerstone and the Archdiocese of Cardiff were delighted to welcome His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on Friday 16th December 2016 to mark the official opening of this exciting new venue for Cardiff ... Read more

A Reflection for Christmas

It is no accident that the Christian Church celebrates the birth of the true light at the darkest time of the year. He is the light that darkness could not overcome. Read more

Canon John O'Regan R.I.P.

It is with sadness that the Archdiocese of Cardiff announces the death of Canon John O’Regan ... Read more

Do You Love Me?

“Do You Love Me?” - It’s the question the Risen Jesus asked St Peter on the beach, as narrated at the end of John’s Gospel. It’s the question the Risen Jesus asks each one of us whenever we consider devoting a little of our time to prayer. To find out more and to book please read more..... Read more

Glorious Thanksgiving

It was a fitting conclusion to the end of our Centenary Year with two representatives from every parish in the Archdiocese attending the Thanksgiving Mass at St David’s Metropolitan Cathedral. Read more

Young Vincentians

The end of 2016 saw the Vincentian family growing in the Archdiocese as several schools set up Mini Vinnie groups, following an introduction to Vincentian Youth Groups by the newly appointed Young Vincentian Development Officer at the Annual Mass for School and College Staff in September. Read more

Home for a Syrian Refugee Family

I am grateful to a number of people in the Diocese who are working with the U.K government and the local authorities to provide a home for at least one refugee family in our midst. Read more

Lenten Reflection 2017

“Fasting is food for the soul, nourishment for the spirit” (Ambrose of Milan c.339-97). Read more

Lenten Station Masses 2017

As we prepare to begin our journey through the Season of Lent, Archbishop George has announced the key dates for the annual Lenten Station Masses in different parts of the Diocese. Read more

Walk with me through Lent

The Lent 2017 edition of “Walk with me” is an excellent companion for Lenten prayer and meditation. Read more

Free Lenten Retreat Day

A retreat day of prayer structured according to Ignatian Spirituality will be held on 1st April Read more

Rite of Election

The Rite of Election takes place this Sunday (March 5th) at 3:00pm at St. David’s Cathedral, Charles Street, Cardiff. Please join us at this special time in the lives of the candidates from all round the diocese. Read more

Welsh National Pilgrimage

Interested in going on pilgrimage? Our Lady calls us to come to Lourdes in prayer, procession and penance – can you respond to this call? Come and join us on the Welsh National Pilgrimage to Lourdes! Read more

Lent Confession

The Season of Lent is an invitation to take another step closer to the Lord Read more

Our Church is Growing

In a moving ceremony candidates and their godparents were called forward and individually welcomed by the Archbishop. Read more

Reflection on the 2nd Sunday in Lent

For so many people, suffering is a waste of time and nothing good can be said of it. We question the very existence of God when individual suffering and the suffering of whole peoples become too much to bear. Read more

Cornerstone Accolade

The Cornerstone at St. David’s has recently been given another accolade in addition to its increasing popularity and reputation for good food and warm hospitality. Read more

Social Housing Development

The Archdiocese of Cardiff has cooperated with the Taff Housing Association to help address the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the city. Read more

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Lent

Those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere, with regular flooding and torrential rain, might be surprised to know that on a worldwide scale there is a catastrophic shortage of water. Read more

Catholic Mothers meet for Annual Conference

On Tuesday March 7th the Welsh Conference of the Union of Catholic Mothers gathered at the Park Inn, Cardiff for their annual conference. They were joined by chaplains to the local conferences and Archbishop George Stack for the celebration of Mass. Read more

Our Lady of Fatima to visit Cardiff Cathedral for Centenary Commemorations

On Saturday 5th May 2017 the Statue and Relics will be welcomed to St David’s Cathedral, Cardiff Read more

Terrorist Attack in London

No doubt every parish and member of the Catholic community in this Diocese of Cardiff will hold all those who suffered in their thoughts and prayers at Mass this Sunday and in the days to come. Read more

Reflection on the 4th Sunday of Lent

Whoever wants to write a book, or an article, or an essay or even a letter needs to plan the structure of what they wish to say – at least the beginning, middle and end. One novelist always wrote the final chapter of his book first and worked back to the beginning. It is a little like that with the gospels. Read more

Reflection on the 5th Sunday of Lent

The famous Irish novelist Colm Toibin comes from Wexford and is a master wordsmith. He can describe the most minute details of growing up and his observation of people and situations around him. One of his novels called ‘Brooklyn’ was made into a film a couple of years ago and proved very successful. Read more

Reflection on Palm Sunday and Holy Week

During the Millennium Year of 2000, the National Gallery in London mounted an exhibition called “Seeing Salvation”. The subtitle was “The Image of Christ” and traced how artists down the ages have represented Jesus whether in paint, stone, wood or precious metals. The exhibition was an amazing success. Read more

Pope names new Nuncio to Great Britain

It has been announced that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has appointed His Excellency Edward Joseph Adams as Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain. Archbishop Adams has been serving as Apostolic Nuncio to Greece since 2011. Prior to that he has served as Apostolic Nuncio to Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the Philippines. Read more

The Real Easter Egg: Keeping the true meaning of Easter

While the National Trust is still immersed in the controversy about dropping the word “Easter” from its (Easter) Egg Hunt and Cadbury dropping “Easter” from its chocolate eggs on sale this week, there is an excellent solution for those of us who intend to keep Easter Eggs as a great symbol of the Resurrection of Jesus. Read more

Catholic Bishops statement regarding recent bombings in Egypt

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, has issued a statement on behalf of the Bishops deploring the explosions in two Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday and offering prayers and support for the Coptic community and all who have been affected by this violence. Read more

Diocese gathers for Chrism Mass

Cardiff Cathedral was a hive of activity yesterday as our Archbishop was joined by the clergy and faithful of the diocese for the annual Chrism Mass. Each year the diocese comes together at the cathedral to consecrate the oils to be used in the Sacraments over the course of the year and to give witness to and support our priests as they renew their ordination promises. Read more

Easter Triduum begins: three days of solemn celebration

This very night throughout the world the Church begins three days of solemn celebration and remembrance as we journey with Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, through his Passion and Death for the Salvation of the whole world. Read more

Behold the wood of the Cross: the Good Friday event

Following the events of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we return to our stark, empty churches on this GOOD Friday to approach the foot of the Cross at Golgotha with sorrow mixed with gratitude. Read more

The light and glory of New Life: the Easter Vigil

Holy Saturday was a very quiet day; an ancient homily for the day says “Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep". Read more