Friday, 8 December 2006

A Festal Day

A busy day with two parish/school Masses, a morning spent running round the presbytery like a headless chicken and a delightful festal lunch with the Ursulines of Jesus in the neighbouring Convent (luckily they are a French Order, founded in the Vendee, and so there was a good bottle of Bordeaux!).

Then I made the journey to Epsom for the Ordination of Bruno, the last of my seminary contemporaries to be ordained. I am now officially a dinosaur and won't be automatically on the Ordination invitation lists in the summer.

St Joseph's church in Epsom (diocese of Arundel and Brighton) is as modern as they get. There is very little religious iconography - indeed when we sang the Salve at the end of the Mass none of the concelebrants could find a Marian image to turn to! I think this photo, borrowed from the comprehensive parish website, gives a good impression of the interior (note the full immersion font):

Everyone got a sore neck during the Liturgy of the Word since the readers and cantor were effectively behind us. The tabernacle is hidden behind the glass screen that surrounds the sanctuary. I had a good view of the ordinand's family from my seat - and they are quite a family! Fr Bruno's sister belongs to the Community of St John and his sister-in-law is the courageous Abigail, a recent 'Catholic Woman of the Year.' It was lovely to see the joy on their faces. In the Order of Service, Fr Bruno wrote a brief introduction to the ceremony and chose a beautiful quote from St Gregory:
This configuration [of the priest] to Christ and to his ministry is essentially founded on a deep personal bond with Jesus Christ. Saint Gregory the Great, the spiritual father of the English clergy, eloquently speaks of this essential connection between the interior life and ministry: "What else are holy men but rivers that water the parched earth? Yet they would dry up if they did not return to the place where they began their course. That is, if they do not abide in the interiority of the heart and do not bind themselves fast with chains of longing in love for the Creator, their tongue withers up. But out of love they continually return to this inner sanctuary, and what they pour out in public they draw from the well of love. By loving they learn what they proclaim in teaching."

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Anonymous Don Marco said...

The church looks frightfully sterile.

1:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the tabernacle supposed to be visible from the body of the church?

What if one didn't wish to confess face to face?

Was there a cross with a corpus present at Mass?

12:21 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Hmmm, I didn't see one, but the virtual tour on the parish's website might give more details.

1:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know of someone who decided that his vocation to the priesthood lay outside the UK after attending the consecration of this Church.
He thought it emblematic of the sterility of liberal English Catholiscism.

4:47 am  
Blogger Joee Blogs said...

Anonymous at 4:47pm, re your comment may I be so bold as to make a wee comment of my own in response.

There are many wonderful English Catholic things - Parkminster being the jewel in the crown, but there's the Tyburn Congregation which is the fastest growing congregation of nuns in Europe, and was started from Tyburn Convent in London.

There's a good number of monasteries and other convents, and lots of wonderful Churches, Westminster Cathedral being an example, also there's the Brompton Oratory. There's also the excellent English Catholic blogosphere. The point is there's a rich history of English Catholicism.

I agree that "liberalism" is dire, but the fruits of English Catholicism are surely worth staying for?

7:01 pm  

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