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Monday, 27 August 2007

Assisting Bishop Rifan

Bishop Rifan was at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, this evening to celebrate a Pontifical Low Mass. I was scheduled to say a Missa Cantata but was happy to say a private Mass earlier in the parish and act as Assistant Priest for the great man. Mgr Gordon Read was the other AP. Neither of us had acted in this capacity before so we needed some prompts here and there. Fortunately, I managed to retain much of what is in Fortescue's mercifully brief chapter on the subject.

Bishop Rifan heads the Apostolic Administration of St John Vianney, established in 2002 in the Diocese of Campos, Brazil, to which about 30,000 faithful are attached. At the end of Mass, after unvesting at the altar and kneeling to say a thanksgiving at the faldstool, he asked us two capellani to accompany him to the back of the Church where he remained to greet all those who had come to the Mass. Nearly all of the people knelt to kiss his ring in recognition of his office as successor to the apostles.

Over dinner afterwards, Bishop Rifan told us of a recently founded group of Franciscans with whom he is great friends. They work with the poor and have established 100 houses in ten years. One of their houses cares for 600 poor people. They have perpetual adoration, live an exemplary life of Franciscan poverty.

Speaking to me personally, the Bishop spoke of how important it is that traditionalists should always show charity to others and avoid bitterness and dissension. His concern was transparently genuine and pastoral. It was a joy to spend an evening assisting him and I look forward to seeing him again at other events this week.
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