18 May 2015

Nostalgia

People talk about 'comfort reading' (Decline and Fall, Have his Carcase, and Zuleika Dobson are some of mine) but there can also be Comfort Video-Watching. The other day I watched the full video of blessed Benedict XVI's Mass in Westminster Cathedral. It really is fun unexpectedly spotting Good Eggs on screen. Among the concelebrants, the great Mgr Andrew Wadsworth (Yes!! I hear everyone's cries of Vescovo subito!!! What a lot I owe to him!); and an Oxford friend, now much missed, Yakoub Banglash, nonchalantly poised in front of one of the cameras. And there is fun too in noticing the Bad Eggs ... not that I ever did spot the photogenic features of Kieran Conry.

The Mass was probably very close to being what most of the more moderately modernising Fathers of Vatican II imagined they were signing up to when they voted for Sacrosanctum concilium; Latin dominated, including the Roman Canon; but there were some Propers and Intercessions in English. In the Canon, it is always interesting to listen carefully to those senior concelebrants who have parts of the Great Prayer assigned to them to deliver individually. Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who had the good fortune of being ordained well before the Rupture and thus for more than a decade had experience of saying the Canon daily, was smooth and accurate. So, interestingly, was Cardinal Keith O'Brien (he had a couple of years of it). Archbishop Vincent Nichols (ordained in December 1969), on the other hand, gave the impression of not being quite within his comfort zone.

There was just one slight whiff of dissatisfaction; His Grace the Archbishop of Cardiff did not conceal that Welsh Catholics were rather disappointed that the Sovereign Pontiff's itinerary had not included the Principality. Hardly surprising. I didn't blame His Grace for giving everyone, in retaliation, an extensive experience of the Welsh Language! Served them right! And I had felt that Pope Benedict should have been allowed to go to Walsingham; I recall that his Predecessor had also wished to go there, and was irritated to be prohibited (you may remember that, as a consolation prize, S John Paul II was told that our Lady of Walsingham would be at his main Mass; he couldn't see her when he arrived to celebrate Mass, and gave peremptory instructions that she should at once be moved onto the Altar itself). A recent correspondent, a Catholic priest not of the Ordinariate, wrote to me: "English Catholic Bishops are more likely to be found in Lourdes than in Walsingham; and I think that the fact that the Catholic Shrine and associated plant in Walsingham is so shabby and underfunded in comparison with its Anglican counterpart is a reflection of the way in which Catholics tend to undervalue Walsingham". I'm not too certain about the individual details in that critical verdict, but the essential point is an interesting one. Are some Catholics still uneasy about the Anglican initiative at Walsingham, or irritated by the brilliantly conceived and truly Catholic spirit of Fr Hope Patten's elegant Holy House and Shrine Church, each so very much unlike a barn?

And Oxford. I wonder why he didn't come here? Could it have anything to do with the aggressive secularism of so many in the modern University? Or were the English bishops opposed? When preaching the University Sermon in Latin in the University Church (the sort of thing that still happens once a year in Oxford) soon after the papal visit to England, I lamented at some length on the sadness that so very erudite a Pontiff should not be able to visit this great shrine of all the scientiae, and to see Newman's Altar and Newman's Pulpit (which I was at that moment preaching from). I still think the same. And Benedict XVI would have been the first to understand that Blessed John Henry belongs to  Anglicans as well as to Catholics, and that Oxford is the symbol of that. Cardinal Manning might have agreed too ... you remember his criticism of Newman ... "the old Oxford literary Patristic tone" ... such crimes ...

A couple of attractive ecumenical opportunities went down the drain there!


7 comments:

motuproprio said...

Mgr John Armitage has been appointed as Shrine Administrator at Walsingham with the brief to beef things up!

Joshua said...

When in Oxford (apart from visiting your own good self), I went into St Mary the Virgin's - and kissed Newman's Pulpit. Surely it is a second class relic of Blessed John Henry?

I assume the fact he preached there when as yet not in full communion does not detract from the sanctity of the relic.

Patricia Phillips said...

I was really saddened at the state of the Slipper Chapel last time I was there. The shrine may not have much money, but it could be kept clean. There was an air of shabbiness about it. The large candle sticks either side of the statue of Our Lady were filthy and covered in layers of dust and old candle wax. The statue itself is in need of re-painting and the beautiful veils which used to hang from the canopy behind the statue, disappeared years ago. The carpet on the sanctuary has burn holes in it. It's not impressive.

viterbo said...

When Pope Benedict arrived in Scotland and got off the bus some group had gone to great pains to have a mural waiting for him. ( http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=visit+pope+benedict+scotland+mural+women+preist&view=detailv2&&&id=29ABAF321D3E52F528630D013935FC70ED6A1443&selectedIndex=3&ccid=YzTrvpJs&simid=608007966263018691&thid=JN.aUAlOwzF%2f7VTpHaOQXs5lQ&ajaxhist=0 ) Quite what Gallileo and Copernicus and women presiders have in common only 'aggressive secularists' can say (although from a Traditional point of view they all have great hubris in common - perhaps that's what the 'oops' is referring to).

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

I understand that the Catholic Shrine in Walsingham may soon be raising its profile, and adorning its buildings as a visibly Catholic shrine. An essential piece of oecumenism.

John Nolan said...

A few years ago I parked in Keble Road to attend Easter Sunday Mass at the Oratory. On returning to my car I found it ticketed as I had overstayed by ten minutes. I rang the council to enquire why one of the great cities of Christendom saw fit to penalize Christians for attending Mass on the most significant day in the Christian calendar.

Needless to say, I got short shrift - the girl on the other end of the telephone didn't know what the hell I was talking about.

Oliver Nicholson said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that the pulpit at S. Mary's was of the later 19th century and replaced that from which J.H. Newman (Trinity) preached as Vicar - and Keble delivered the Assze Sermon of 1833.