Fr Ray, Fr Tim, and Fr Ed have written so well about the splendid Colloquium the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy had recently at S Edmund's College, Ware. It would be superfluous for me to repeat what they write, but I can't refrain from saying that the Confraternity provides a finer experience of priestly solidarity than ever I experienced in the Church of England. I think others may have the same feeling: the Confraternity, happily, and with the warm encouragement of our Ordinary, contains a healthy percentage of Ordinariate clergy and other ex-Anglicans. I find very humbling the warm welcome we receive; and the sense we have been allowed of having a role to play in the English Catholic Church. I hope we, as individuals and as an Ordinariate, may prove worthy of this confidence.
Together with the Birmingham and Brompton Oratories, the Chapel at Ware is one of the candidates I would put forth if I were asked to nominate three Catholic churches to survive a holocaust. It was built before the English Church had cathedrals, and so it in many ways has the feel of a Cathedral, particularly of the London District. This is partly because of the numbers of Vicars Apostolic buried there, or remembered by chantries; and, aesthetically, it is the product of A W Pugin's successful realisation of the spirit of late Gothic Christianity. I think he would have been pleased to see it in heavy use around dawn on the Wednesday morning of the Colloquium: the murmur, the tinkling of bells, as priests and their servers took turns saying their private Masses at the (is it six?) altars. There are also many relics, and a beautiful Shrine Chapel of S Edmund, containing a femur of the Saint brought from his shrine at Pontigny. He also features prominently in the glass.
The College also has fascinating museum items. I have an interest in Bishop Challoner, V.A. of the London District, partly because I have been able to say Mass from his Missal in the recusant Chapel at Milton Manor near Oxford, where Challoner liked to stay and where he was buried in the Squire's vault inside the Anglican Parish Church. (The prayer for his beatification is said after each Mass at Milton.) Ware has the lead crucifix which was on his original coffin (before he was exhumed and carted off to Westminster Cathedral). It has his splendid tall baroque mitre, exhibited beside a Puginesque Gothic mitre about a tenth of its height! And various other memorabilia.
The most interesting of these I will describe in a second post.