Last night's Mass was a very beautiful, sacred and at the same time homely occasion. The Parish choir, led by Brenda who has been involved with the music in the parish since before I was born, sang Ludovico Viadana's Missa L'Hora Passa, as well as Crookall's Confirma Hoc and Gounod's Ave Verum at the offertory, and Mozart's Iubilate Deo at Holy Communion. The Schola who come regularly for our first Saturday Missa Cantata sang the proper texts in Gregorian Chant. We had Credo I and finished off with a rousing Te Deum in which there was actuosissima participatio. "Jubilee Secretary", Wendy, organised the printing of a fine booklet for the Mass so that everyone could follow the proper texts and "say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium n.54)
Our MC, Jonathan Hague ensured that there was a full complement of ten servers, as well as taking an afternoon off to rearrange benches and things to accommodate the ceremonies. As is our custom, the principal serving roles were given to the younger boys and it was a much appreciated compliment that Dr Alcuin Reid, the editor of the new edition of Fortescue's "The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described" said that the servers were the best trained that he had ever seen in a parish setting.
Several parishioners said to me that they wondered when the entrance procession was going to finish. Here is a list of clergy present:
Deacon: Fr Charles Briggs, Subdeacon: Fr Christopher Basden, clergy in choir: Mgr Gordon Read, Fr Roger Nesbitt, Fr Anthony Logan, Fr Agnellus FI, Fr Ray Blake, Fr William Young, Fr Francis Coveney, Fr Michael Clifton, Fr John Zuhlsdorf, Fr Andrew Southwell, Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP, Rev John Harrison, Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP, Fr Francis Hartley, Fr Francis Marsden, Fr Patrick Hayward CRL, Fr Jude Okenyi FSB, Fr John Boyle, Fr Hugh MacKenzie, Fr William Scanlon, Fr James Clark, Fr Dominic Rolls, Fr Richard Biggerstaff, Dr Alcuin Reid, Fr Michael Woodgate, Fr Felipe Alonso OSST, and Fr Stephen Boyle. Fr Paul Hayward (of Opus Dei) and parish deacons Braz Menezes and Michael Baldry were also attending.
The sermon was given by Fr Roger Nesbitt who founded the Faith Movement together with Fr Holloway. He spoke warmly of my family and moved on to talk about the priesthood and the Eucharist. He mentioned especially the verse "You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes" (Ps 22.5) speaking of Christ who celebrated the Last Supper on the eve of His passion, and relating this to the life of the priest, centred on the Eucharist, but also subject to trials and tribulations. He wove into his sermon quotations from the Curé of Ars, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict. He made a point of referring to the "hermeneutic of continuity" when speaking of the link between the Holy Mass and the Last Supper and Passion of Our Lord. Fr Nesbitt also whimsically congratulated me on "choosing" the Year of the Priest in which to celebrate my silver jubilee.
Here is another picture of the clergy in choir at the Et incarnatus est:
And at the first part of the Canon:
At my speech at the reception afterwards I said that people usually commented on two things when they visit Blacken: first, the number of young families, and secondly, the warm hospitality that is offered. Preparing for last evening's reception, very many parishioners from different groups worked together to arrange an outstanding welcome for everyone.
They arranged for a marquee to be erected so that the space in our Hall could be extended to accommodate all our guests. They really did a magnificent job with flowers, lighting, and even that most elusive thing, free beer - courtesy of Shepherd Neame brewery who supply the Rosary Social Club. The catering was superb. Trisha, who together with her husband James, runs a family firm of vegetable suppliers (Harwoods of London) got everything organised with the help of guest chef, Steve.
At that moment (a few weeks ago) when people begin to panic a bit, wondering how many are going to come, whether we will over-cater and whether we really need a marquee, I remembered some advice I was recently given about leadership and decided it was a time to "not flinch" and said "cater for 200". There were rather more than 200 at Mass but with some people having to leave early, and others not eating much, it turned out to be about right - and very tasty fare, too. The marquee was really helpful, making it possible for people to meet each other and chat rather than be squashed shoulder-to-shoulder.
I wish the evening had been much longer since there were so many friends there that I would love to have spent more time with. It was also an opportunity to catch up, albeit briefly, with my sisters, Jane, Joan, Mary and Sarah who came, together with children. My brother-in-law, Orlando, who took the photographs at my ordination, was there with his camera; but he is a traditionalist as regards photography and insists on using film so I eagerly await his work which, I am sure, will put us modernist digital types to shame.
In the meantime, here is a photo of just a few of the family:
I think that the youngest guest was Gabriel Ifesinachi (below) whom I baptised just three weeks ago but she may have been beaten by my new great-nephew, Jack whom I saw for the first time last night.
Maria and Bianca made a cake for me with a Eucharistic theme for the decoration. It was a rather rich fruit cake and Maria assured me that plenty of brandy had been added to the mix.
I made the first cut determinedly; some of the children thought that with the ferraiuolo and a silver blade, I looked like a character from Harry Potter.
Then there was the great British tradition, the Routemaster bus (RM5). The driver, Joe asked me to bless the bus and himself before the return journey. The servers were on hand to ensure that this was carried out in Latin and with full solemnity. I understand that the bus safely reached the City by 11.20pm.
On the blog, it would not be right to conclude a post such as this without mentioning the bloggers who were present. First our parishioner bloggers:
and then our visiting bloggers:
What does the prayer really say
St Mary Magdalen, Brighton
Fr Mildew ("I really prefer Gothic vestments")
That the bones you have crushed may thrill
(If I have missed anyone, my apologies - pop in a comment and I will add you to the list with a link.)
Many regular commenters were also there and, as ever, it was good to meet up in person.
It was really such a lovely evening and a chance to meet up with parishioners from former parishes, associates in pastoral work, family friends, bloggers, writers, and random traditionalists who took up the open invitation from the blog - including Michael Parsons and his wife from Franklin, Michigan who came via Galway.
This morning, I spent a very pleasant hour or so opening all the cards and letters that you have sent for the occasion. Thank you for your gifts, your good wishes and especially for all the Masses that you have arranged for my intentions. God bless you and rest assured that you will be remembered at Mass.
Fr John Zuhlsdorf: Off to Blackfen ("We are off to the event!")
Mulier Fortis: Ad multos annos ("And then there was the Mass: well, what can I say?")
Singulare Ingenium: Silver Jubilee of Fr Timothy Finigan ("The day has been altogether wonderful")
Fr Ray Blake; The Do ("No wonder Fr Tim loves Blackfen")
Yes - that would be right. I do love Blackfen.