While at Lourdes, we saw a number of groups of girls and young women, supervised by sisters in the habit of the Dominicans. The berets and sensible skirts did not look at all frumpy - as one lady in my group observed: "Trust the French! They even manage to make school uniform look chic!" Naturally curious, I asked once or twice "Where are your from?" and was told that they were from the "Ecoles Dominicaines". On the Saturday before we left, I saw a large group assembling outside the St Bernadette Chapel. This photo shows just a small section:
The gathering piqued my interest even more and I began to realise that the assembly might be related to the Society of St Pius X - one of the young men helping to steward the Mass confirmed this.
Inside the chapel, I saw everything prepared for High Mass and realised that this was a major photo/video opportunity, so I rushed back to the hotel to get my big camera. Together with another couple of priests, I attended the Mass and was greatly moved by the devotion of the large congregation. The front section of the large chapel was taken up by the schoolchildren and the sisters. The rear section was taken up by families.
Below is a video that I made up of the photos I took and the clips I managed to film. No soundtrack or recording has been added - the singing is all recorded by my tiny camera microphone and therefore not of best quality - although if you hook up a couple of speakers it is not at all bad.
Now I know that this is an event of the SSPX and that there are problems there. I know that Bishop Williamson has said some silly things and I certainly do not agree with them.
Nevertheless, I was struck forcibly by the extent to which this celebration of Mass fulfilled so many of the genuine demands of the Second Vatican Council (hence the rather "tongue in cheek" overlay quotations.) I wondered why anyone would want to stop this kind of celebration.
I also reflected on the many times I have been told to "feel the pain of disunity" when attending ecumenical services. I have never felt that pain as much as when I saw these good people celebrate Mass, receive communion and kneel down to make their thanksgiving after Mass. Why are we not doing all we can to foster the unity of the Church? Why do we continue to ignore the SSPX chapels and schools in our dioceses? If only we could be fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with these good people pro felici statu Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae (for the good estate of the Holy Roman Church)