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Thursday, 30 April 2009

Celebrations for St Catherine of Siena

In the Society of St Catherine of Siena, we celebrated the feast of our patron saint today. In a paper read to the St Nicholas Study group, Susan Parsons spoke about the moral lessons of the octaves. Various octaves were suppressed during the reforms of the 1950s and we are now left with only the Christmas and Easter Octaves. The octave of Pentecost was a surprising omission from the calendar of the post Vatican II reform, paradoxically coinciding with the proclamation of the "New Pentecost" and the birth of the Catholic charismatic movement.

Dr Laurence Hemming had to hand an Octavarium showing that in the older tradition, not only were there many minor octaves of universal observance, but there were also octaves for local Churches for their patronal feast and the dedication of the Church.

After the paper, there was some intense discussion on the question of the Liturgical Movement in its early stages and the role played by Guéranger's Liturgical Year in bringing people to an appreciation of the richness of the Liturgy of the Church; as well as the question of the different levels of participation in the liturgy available to the faithful and whether the rehabilitation of the "Sunday" was really as important as it is usually considered to be. I find such discussions with learned colleagues very useful, especially when there is a clash of particular points of view, helping us to clarify important historical and theological questions.

After this session, we walked over to St James's, Spanish Place for Missa Cantata, sung at Bentley's stunning Lady Chapel by Fr Andrew Wadsworth, the Chaplain of the Society who is soon moving to Washington DC to take up post as General Secretary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and Executive Director of the ICEL Secretariat. Some boys from the London Oratory School sang for the Mass with great expertise and discipline. I was very pleased to be able to assist in choir and sing the Epistle for the Mass. Many thanks too, to the Rector, Fr Terence Phipps, for kindly allowing us to use St James's for this celebration.
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