At the start of the Mass, on Sunday December 18, Bishop Peter entered through the West Door of the Cathedral and knelt to pray for a short while. He then kissed a crucifix and blessed those near the door with Holy Water before processing up the main aisle as the Ecce Sacerdos was sung.
After reaching the Sanctuary, Bishop Peter venerated and incensed the altar before the Liturgy of the Word began.
In his homily Bishop Collins first thanked Mgr Harkness and the entire diocesan family for the welcome which they have extended to him. He then spoke of the struggle we all face to transform conceptual truth into a personal reality.
“Though a dream,” he said, “Joseph is addressed most personally by God. He is informed – regarding God’s intent. He is challenged – regarding his own decision. He is invited – to change his mind.
“Joseph knew the prophecy of Isaiah so well… The Maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a Son…
“It is one thing to know the words. It is another thing to accept the message… and take it home – home to the heart of who we are – home to where we become capable of changing our minds.
“Saint Paul was a man who changed his mind – Paul describes himself… as “a Servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through His prophets in the Scriptures.
“These words hold particular relevance for me today as I formally take possession of my cathedral church as your Bishop – as a successor of the Apostles who is now charged with the fullness of the apostolic mission.
“I invoke these other words of St Paul: ‘To all you who are God’s beloved – not in Rome but in East Anglia – called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.’
“As we enter the last stage of our Advent pilgrimage, let us invoke the words of the Psalmist – let the Lord enter, let the Lord come into our hearts, let the Lord come to change our minds, to change our lives.
“God is not distant – He is with us – He is Emmanuel.”
After the Mass, Bishop Peter, Mgr Harkness and Canon Hodgson returned to the West Door to greet members of the congregation.
Pictured above is Bishop Peter Collins. You can see a gallery of his first Sunday Mass at St John’s Cathedral by clicking on the link or the picture below.