Back from Merton, it has been a customarily busy weekend in the parish. Yesterday was the first Saturday of the month so our morning Mass was a Missa Cantata (usually it is a Low Mass). St Alphonsus Liguori is one of my favourite saints so it was a pleasure to preach on his feast day and give a little summary of the principal themes of his preaching.
With us yesterday was James Mawdsley who is the subject of an article on Wikipedia. He was a prisoner of conscience in Burma for over a year for campaigning for human rights and is now banned from the country. I said that we should have greeted him with the hymn "Iste Confessor." He also has his own blog Ecce Mater Tua.
After Mass, together with the MC, one of the singers, and the Mulier Fortis, we took lunch at the "Robin Hood and Little John" together with a pint of the Reverend James ale and a pint of Summer Perle. The Robin Hood and Little John is a traditional English pub where there is pleasant, polite service and a good atmosphere. It is in the "Campaign for Real Ale" awards each year for something or another.
During August, my choir takes a break and so, for the first time, we had a Low Mass in the usus antiquior today at 10.30am. Since this would be unfamiliar to many of those attending, I took the opportunity to preach about how we can participate at the Mass, looking first at the four ends of the Mass, emphasising that the Liturgy is the work of God, not something that we make or do, and that there are various quite proper and legitimate ways in which people can choose to participate at Mass. I recently obtained another 100 copies of the red booklet distributed in England by the Latin Mass Society. This has various prayers in addition to the text of the Ordinary of the Mass with lost of explanatory notes. We also have copies of the propers of the Mass, taken from the Orange County Una Voce website.
These enable people to follow the words of the Mass if they wish. However it is also quite all right for people to follow the action of the Mass whilst meditating on the mysteries that are made present. Many people come to Mass with concerns about family members who are sick, children who are going astray, problems at work, or perhaps (at this time of year) a joyful anticipation of their family holiday. All of these things can be brought in spirit to the altar and offered together with the sacrifice of Christ to be sanctified and transformed through God's grace.
Fr Andrew Wise from the Diocese of Sale in Australia was at the Merton Conference. As he is staying with relatives not far away in Orpington, he came over this morning and attended Mass in choir, saying his own Mass afterwards. Two of my altar servers generously stayed behind to serve his Mass. We had a good chinwag over lunch and it's time for me now to celebrate our Sunday evening Mass.
Tomorrow I'll be celebrating an early Mass at 7am before getting ready to leave for the Faith Movement's Summer Session at Woldingham School in Surrey. There will be a number of good priests there for the week, together with lots of young people, aged about 16-30. The conference includes lectures on the Catholic faith, daily Mass, confessions, sport and social activities. It is always a highlight of the summer Catholic calendar.