Celebrating the 44

A while back, I posted a spoof cross-examination on the question of buckled shoes. Such shoes were in evidence today at a small gathering of clergy in a Church in the northern sector of the London Conurbation.

St Ralph Sherwin, St Alexander Briant and St Edumund Campion were martyred on 1 December 1581. They were the first of the 44 martyrs of the Venerable English College in Rome, founded on the site of an ancient Pilgrims' Hospice in 1579. Each year, students from the College remember them and celebrate their glorious sacrifice with a solemn Mass and Te Deum, just as the students did when they first heard the news of their brothers' deaths propter odium fidei.

Today, a small group of us celebrated a solemn Mass in Latin (Novus Ordo this year) at the Church of St Mary Magdalen at Willesden Green.

One of the priests brought a beautiful chasuble for the day, embroidered with mementos of the martyrs. The inscription on this side says "Martyrs of England, pray for us."

And on this side, it says "The white-robed army of martyrs praises you" (a quotation from the Te Deum)

I was particularly struck by the crucifix at St Mary Magdalen's. Assisting in choir at the Mass, I was able to gaze upon it from time to time. Our Lord's face seems to be reproaching us for the sins that have wounded him. I found it very helpful in focussing on the sacrifice of our Blessed Lord made present on the altar.

After the Mass, we were treated to an excellent lunch by Fr Hugh MacKenzie, prepared by a team of parishioners. The conversation ranged over the question of the rumoured appointment of Cherie Blair to the Vatican, the direction of current developments in the liturgy and the influence of Catholic blogs, among many other things.

After lunch, there is a tradition of smoking cigars. As a regular smoker, I am a little out of this - smoking cigars is not a good idea for a cigarette smoker. But it is fun to see the clergy enjoying tobacco according to the teaching of the Catholic Church "The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine." (Catechism 2290) There was no excess use of tobacco today.

And no such post would be complete without a picture of Fr Richard Whinder, the ubiquitous non-blogging guest of English Catholic blogs. Here, he is reflecting on the question raised by the recent articles of Fr Uwe Michael Lang on the text of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari.

For more information, see the Post on Roman Miscellany entitled Martyrs' Day which has a quotation from Mgr (later Cardinal) "Uncle Bill" Godfrey.

Fr Nicholas has posted Salvete flores martyrum! with various pictures of priests smoking cigars.

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