It is a story of hope as well as prefiguring Jesus’s death and resurrection.
Carlin Sunday peas
A popular and better known name for this Sunday in the north-east is Carlin (or Carling) Sunday when pub snacks and lunch include warm Carlin peas.
The tradition may have started with peas arriving in Newcastle as relief from hunger after a siege.
Anyone who bought their carlins before the shutdown will certainly be cooking the peas as usual. In these difficult times they are a good legume providing protein and fibre. Any left over should be enjoyed cold on Monday.
This may be the quietest St Patrick’s Day for many young people as they face a 17 March without a parade in Dublin.
Mary Kenny, writing in The Catholic Herald, suggests that “maybe it’s no bad thing, if St Patrick’s Day is a little more focused on Patrick himself, and a little less on pints of Guinness and silly hats saying ‘Kiss me, I’m Irish!’”
Within living memory St Patrick’s Day was quiet with all pubs closed. It was a little like an old fashioned Christmas Day: Mass in the morning followed by a family lunch and a snooze. A big day off.
This year we might have a moment to remember that it is also St Joseph of Arimathea’s Day.
Did he come to Glastonbury with teenage Jesus? Did he supply the cup for the Last Supper? He did look after Christ’s body after his crucifixion. This is what confronts us in Holy Week early next month.
As we move deeper into Lent many are finding it difficult to attend church due to the threat of Coronavirus.
In Rome and Venice there are no services on Sunday or weekdays.
Those elsewhere who are able to go will find communion only in one kind and a ban on shaking hands, kneeling and using hymn books. Coffee afterwards is often being cancelled as a precaution.
This is a time to understand how those who are unwell or far from church feel when trying to keep the Christian year.
Thanks to new media it is possible to look up the Mass readings. You can follow worship on RTE online from Ireland. The Pope’s daily Mass is also available live online.
There is a huge choice of live feeds from fixed cameras in churches across Britain on Church Services TV.
Look at Twitter on Wednesday 25 March and you will find lots of references to The Annunciation. Many will be keeping the day in their hearts.
“The Holy Spirit has a way of getting to places and to people that we don’t always understand, and we certainly can’t package,” says Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
“People will take what steps they can to associate themselves spiritually with the celebration of Mass, and my guess is, will treasure it more when the freedom is back to attend Mass when we want.”
Writing from Rome in The Tablet this week Christopher Lamb observes: “Church teaching is that a virtual celebration of the liturgy does not fulfill the obligation to attend Mass in person, but digital technology has suddenly become a lifeline that enables Catholics to remain connected to their faith, albeit remotely.”
Magnificat and Keeping Lent and Easter can be companions through this season of Lent and the fifty days of Easter when the virus will possibly be at its height in the UK.
The village school in Tilney All Saints near Wisbech in East Anglia, which has been awarded a grant to look at the village’s Plough Monday custom, is involved in reviving the tradition.
For many years until the 1550s the village’s plough was suspended with ropes from the beams of All Saints Church on Plough Monday.
Candles, or plow lyghts as the records read, were lit near the plough. This annual ritual happened from from early times until at least 1544 which was six years after votive candles had been banned by national edict.
The clamp down on traditions and fun was part of the creeping Reformation which eventually saw an end to the Plough Monday celebrations in the last years of Henry VIII’s reign and during the accession of his son Edward VI .
However, the Monday holiday continued to be observed in remote Tilney All Saints for some years after Plough Monday had been banned in 1547 .
This year around sixty children from Tilney All Saints School and its partner school Anthony Curton in Wisbech will perform the traditional molly dance in the village on Plough Monday 13 January.
The revival project is called ‘Sharing The Plough’ and at 10.30am on Monday 13 January, the first Monday after the Twelfth Night, pupils will follow a plough from the school to the church.
The dancing will be performed to music collected in the village by Vaughan Williams whose famous visit is being featured in the project research.
The plough service in the church at 11am will include the lighting of plough lights.