What a fabulous experience the liturgy of Holy Week and Easter was this year. Just an absolute delight. I haven’t seen the church so busy on Easter Day in years! I was delighted that Staff and Cadets from TS Scylla came to Mass on Easter Sunday, along with many families and individuals from the congregation, and friends who had travelled some distance to be with us. In addition it was excellent to have four priests amongst us too! As well as Frs Jack and Gary it was so good to have Fr Ben back home for the Triduum. It was a delight to hear him preach on Easter Sunday at parish mass. In addition to all this, I was so pleased that Bishop Dorsey was able to join with us on Maundy Thursday. Not only was his sermon memorable, but also that he was quite happy to kneel and engage in the washing of feet. To me that was exercising proper episcopal ministry in humility. The chant that Fr Jack sang for the antiphons at the foot washing was quite remarkable. It was resonant of the Aramaic Chant of the East and made the whole liturgical action so much more meaningful and engaging. For all of you who contributed one way or another to the events of Holy Week my sincerest thanks and appreciation. It just shows you what we are capable of as a community. In addition, because the Hall is still undergoing renovation, we were able to use the big lounge in the Blue Lamp for the Easter Buffet. I must express our thanks to Lewis Brown for his generosity and hospitality, in opening the doors of the Lampie for us. The buffet was superb and my thanks to all who contributed.

The renovation of the Hall moves forward and I cannot thank all of those involved enough. I really do appreciate the involvement of Stuart Boon, our Architect; Robert Gordon, the Quantity Surveyor; Neil Scullion, the Joiner; Michael Skoczykloda, the Builder; and David Jones, our Treasurer. The Polish work force has been beavering away in all weathers and they are doing a fantastic job. We are going to have something really good here, and it augurs well for the future in our ministry and mission in this place. It is going to be a huge improvement, and will give us a renewed confidence. I personally look forward in hope and anticipation. It will truly be our shop window in the community and will offer us much opportunity. The completion date looks like sometime in June and I plan to have a big party to celebrate.

However we are sailing pretty close to the wind in terms of funding for the renovation, on account of extra works and unforeseen problems. That is the nature of such a project. You will remember that when we came to renew the Church lighting some years ago, we had opportunity to help, by buying a light fitting in memory of a departed loved one(s). If you would like to assist again you can see photographs of an electric heater and a light fitting in the magazine and the relevant costs. I am myself prepared to lead the way and ‘chip-in.’

Later in the magazine there is printed a most remarkable poem on the Annunciation by Edwin Muir, who was born in Wyre in Orkney, who also, in later life, became Principal of Newbattle College near Edinburgh. It was an amazing institution which gave lots of people a second chance in life. This poem, by Muir, is reflected in the Comper stained glass in the Holy Name Chapel, where we see the eyes of the BVM gazing into the eyes of the Archangel Gabriel. It is just beautiful…

“but through the endless afternoon
These neither speak nor movement make,
But stare into their deepening trance
As if their gaze would never break.”

This year the Annunciation is a fortnight later on account Holy Week and Easter. In the old calendar the Annunciation actually was the beginning of the New Year in England up until 1752. Scotland had changed New Year’s Day in 1600 to 1st of January, but still retained the Julian Calendar until 1752. Thereafter the Gregorian calendar was adopted in Great Britain and in the British Empire. A vestige of this is retained in the UK’s tax year which ends on 5th April… ‘old Lady Day’. Lady Day adjusted for the eleven lost days of the calendar change in 1752.

Elsewhere in the magazine there is that excellent poem by George Mackay Brown of Christ’s Harrowing of Hell. These poems of both Orcadian poets are offered for your meditation. On Saturday, the 13th of April, I shall be on the field of Culloden for the annual Service of Commemoration. I have been asked by the Gaelic Society of Inverness to be involved in the proceedings. In the 2nd weekend in May I shall be, weather permitting, on St Kilda and intend to say Mass in the Chapel there. It was Hector Boece, the first Principal of King’s College, University of Aberdeen, who in 1527 described St Kilda as ‘The last and outmaist isle.’ At one point he and Canon Alexander Galloway, the Aberdeen Liturgist and Architect, had gone on a trip to the Hebrides to compile historical material for the Aberdeen Breviary. Both were great men of the Renaissance.

See you in Church,

Kindest Regards,
As Aye,

Fr Emsley