Real faith in a virtual world

Some good friends unable to take their eagerly anticipated holiday to Rome last month chose instead to take a “Virtual Journey to Rome”. With another couple dates were set, an itinerary was planned, menus were organised, wines allocated and guide books sourced.

They decided to read books based in Rome (or at least somewhere in Italy), watched films with Italian themes (The Italian Job!) and listened to Italian music. Contentedly ensconced in their respective lock-down homes it became a challenge fitting it all in! Apparently the highlight of the holiday was a personal cookery class with Luisa (an Italian cook) conducted by Zoom, with Luisa in her mother’s kitchen in Sorrento and our friends in their kitchens in England. It all went well.

During the last few weeks and months we’ve all had to adapt, do things differently and on occasion unexpectedly. Some have found it easier than others. Church and Cathedral life has changed dramatically with services taking place in the nave and not St. Hugh’s Choir, no choir (though much appreciated organist and cantor) and now we have to mask up. I note with interest that if we followed our Lord’s example of mixing with publicans in their place of work, we could hold a service and no mask would be required! I digress, but it does make you imagine what might be: I’ll have a bottle of red and some bread rolls, please!

Our friends imagined themselves in Rome. St Ignatius, 500 years before their imagined holiday, made liberal use of the imagination and integrated imaginative prayer into the approach to the spiritual life that he outlined in the Spiritual Exercises. In his hands, the imagination becomes a tool to help us know and love God.

One of the exercises – perhaps the most well-known – is to place ourselves fully within a story from the Gospels. We become onlooker-participants and give full rein to our imagination. Jesus is speaking to a blind man at the side of the road. We feel the hot Mediterranean sun beating down. We smell the dust kicked up by the passer-by. We feel the itchy clothing we’re wearing, the sweat rolling down our brow, a rumble of hunger. We see the desperation in the blind man’s face and hear the wail of hope in his words. We note the irritation of the disciples. Above all we watch Jesus – the way he walks, his gestures, the look in his eyes, the expression on his face. We hear him speak the words that are recorded in the Gospel. We go on to imagine other words he might have spoken and other deeds he might have done.

A well-known example is contemplation on Jesus’ birth and at the centre of that story is Mary, the Mother of our Lord, and whose Feast Day falls on Saturday 15 August; transferred for us at the Cathedral to the Sunday, as the Feast Day of the Blessed Virgin Mary marks also our Patronal Festival. Ignatius suggests that we imagine:

the labours of the journey to Bethlehem, the struggles of finding a shelter, the poverty, the thirst, the hunger, the cold, the insults that meet the arrival of God-with-us.

Ignatius wants us to meet Mary, to understand her love of God and her obedience to his command; Ignatius above all wants us to experience Jesus. He wants Jesus to fill our senses. He wants us to meet him.

Imaginative prayer makes the Jesus of the Gospels our Jesus. It helps us develop a unique and personal relationship with him. We watch Jesus’ face. We listen to the way he speaks. We notice how people respond to him. These imaginative details bring us to know Jesus as more than a name or a historical figure in a book. He is a living person. We say what the villagers in John’s Gospel told the Samaritan woman: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’

Amidst all the changes and chances of this present life, Jesus of Nazareth is as real as he always has been: wanting us, desiring us to enter into a real and meaningful, faithful and loving relationship with him and with one another. This is not “Virtual Living”, not “Zoom Church” (which we’re told to believe is as good as the real thing – but without fellowship, companionship, warmth and camaraderie, i.e. anything that makes it human); this is real faith with the Jesus who wishes to meet us in person.


Worship and Mission

Patronal festival
Lincoln Cathedral is also known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln.

It is dedicated to Christ’s mother Mary. From medieval times, she has been regarded as the protector of both the cathedral and the city of Lincoln.

You are invited to join us this Sunday at 9.30am for the Patronal Festival Eucharist on the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

You can download the Order of Service here:

Daily worship

8am – Morning Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.
5.30pm – Evening Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.

8am – Morning Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.
8.30am – Holy Communion.
5.30pm – Evening Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.

8am – Morning Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.  5.30pm – Evening Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.

8am – Morning Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine
8.30am – Holy Communion
5.30pm – Evening Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.

8am – Morning Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.
5.30pm – Evening Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.

8am – Morning Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine
5.30pm – Evening Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.

7.45am – Litany – St Hugh’s Shrine.
8am – Holy communion (BCP) – St Hugh’s Shrine.
9.30am – Holy Communion – Nave.
3.45pm – Evening Prayer – St Hugh’s Shrine.

Face coverings
Please remember that it is now mandatory to wear face coverings in places of worship. Thank you as always for your help and cooperation.


A Message from the Stewards

May we thank all of you who are able to join in worship at the 9.30 Eucharist on a Sunday for your co-operation and help that has enabled the service to run so smoothly.

We are however conscious that the Nave is a large area, and as Stewards we are very aware of how far it is to walk from one end to the other! We are also conscious that some at worship are not as mobile as they would like to be, and walking distances is a struggle. If you are in that situation, may we ask you to consider sitting in the second and third “rows” of the congregation so that you do not have to walk so far to receive the Eucharist, and afterwards the Stewards will ensure that you can return direct to your chair rather than walking all the way round the Nave.

Those who are mobile we are sure will understand, and leave the front rows free for friends described above. Alternatively, if you wish to take Communion, but are unable to walk to receive same, then the Clergy will be happy to bring it to you, but please indicate this requirement to a Steward (wearing a blue sash) before the service. Thank you.

Time capsule
To mark the completion of the Old Deanery Visitor Centre, we will be burying two time capsules within the Centre walls. One of these will be filled with contributions from you; the Cathedral’s worshipping community and its volunteers.

The possibilities are endless and the more personal, imaginative and unique the better! Some ideas include a description of what it’s like to volunteer at the Cathedral or be a member of the worshipping community, or of your favourite moment or experience in the Cathedral; your thoughts and feelings about lockdown; a photo of something you have made or small hand-made item; a small drawing or sketch; poem; stamps or coins; ticket stubs.

The capsule is quite small therefore please limit any written or drawn contributions to A5 size and any objects to approx. credit card size.

Contributions should be delivered by the 30 September 2020 by email to, by post to the Chapter Office, 4 Priorygate, Lincoln, LN2 1PL or posting into the designated box within the nave of the Cathedral.

Given the limited capacity, we may not be able to include every contribution in the capsule. However, we will photograph every contribution and endeavour to compile an electronic register accessible online.


Flower Festival tickets now on sale
Tickets for Lincoln Cathedral’s Flower Festival – Vision 2021 – are now on sale.
To celebrate the launch there is a special ‘early bird’ offer available for those who purchase their tickets to the event before 27 August.

The early bird ticket offer gives 20% off standard ticket prices:
Early bird prices (Available for tickets booked between 12-26 August):
Adult – £12
Concessions – £10.80
Group (10+) – £10.20
Under 16 – FREE

Standard price (from 27 August):
Adult – £15
Concessions – £13.50
Group (10+) – £12.75
Under 16 – FREE

There is also a preview evening on Wednesday 28 July, where visitors can enjoy drinks and canapés whilst getting the exclusive opportunity to see the beautiful blooms on display before the event open to the public.

Visitors are also invited to a ‘Musical Meander’ on Friday 30 July which will include musical accompaniment from a selection of talented musicians and tour around the Cathedral for guests to take in the colourful arrangements.

Tickets can be purchased by following this link or by calling 01522 561612.

Welcome back special offer

A reminder that until 5 September, there is a reduced admission for visitors to the Cathedral. It is just £5 per adult and children under 16 are free.

The doors will be open to visitors from 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 3.30pm on Sundays.


Bible Readings

Sunday 16 August
Tenth Sunday after Trinity

Isaiah 56: 1, 6-8
Romans 11: 1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15: [10-20] 21-28

Jonah 1
2 Peter 3: 14-end

Evening Prayer
2 Kings 4: 1-37
Acts 16: 1-15


Sunday 23 August
Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Isaiah 51: 1-6
Romans 12: 1-8
Matthew 16: 13-20

Jonah 2
2 Peter 3: 14-end

Evening Prayer
2 Kings 6: 8-23
Acts 17: 15-end


Sunday 30 August
Twelth Sunday after Trinity

Jeremiah 15: 15-21
Romans 12:9-end
Matthew 16: 21-end

Jonah 3: 1-9
Revelation 3: 14-end

Evening Prayer
2 Kings 6: 24-25, 7: 3-end
Acts 18: 1-16