What a splendid way for the Ordinary, Mgr Newton, to conclude the Ordinariate observances he has organised for the Year of Mercy! A large gathering of priests and laypeople went on pilgrimage to the Birmingham Oratory, Blessed John Henry Newman's own home and Church, along the Hagley Road.
The Oratory Church is an exquisite building, mirroring an earlier expression of Renaissance architecture than the full-blown baroque at Brompton. (If you want to 'do' Italian Renaissance art and architecture, you don't need to go to Italy or even to the V and A: just go to the two Oratories ... where, especially on Sundays, you can see what it's all for.) At the Ordinariate Pilgrimage Mass on Saturday morning, I think it is blabbing no secret to say that Father Keith felt very emotional when he was given our Blessed Patron's own crozier to carry during the Mass. After lunch, we heard two fine addresses, both by proven good friends of the Ordinariate: Father Deacon Dr Stephen Morgan upon Newman as Doctor Amicitiae and the relevance of this to the New Evangelisation; and Father Provost Ignatius Harrison, about our Anglican Patrimony in terms of our splendid Ordinariate Missal, which he thought gave much finer renderings of Latin originals than the ICEL Missal does. Father felt that we needed to be thoroughly distinctive ... this is our great contibution to evangelisation ... and thought that our own 'Use of the Roman Rite' did this very well; although, like many of us, he hoped that this would be 'work in progress' and might be edged closer to the dear old English Missal.
The Pilgrimage concluded with Solemn Benediction ... a very Patrimonial service ... with the English Hymnal translation of Tantum ergo. It was particularly appropriate to the place, types and shadows have their ending echoing Newman's ex umbris et imaginibus in Veritatem.
I was privileged to stay on overnight and to witness the Aggregation of a new member of this predominantly young and growing Oratory Community, and on Sunday morning I celebrated and preached at the parish High Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the actual Feast of our great Blessed. What a privilege!! I felt quite emotional as, at the end of Mass, I censed the Relic of our Patron. I was also rather moved that they still use the Latin hymn they asked me to write for them, addressed to 'the Cardinal'. It accompanied me down the Church and to the Sacristy!
We sha'n't forget last weekend in a hurry. In practical terms, immense credit is due to Mgr Keith and the Oratorians and Fr Ron.
More profoundly, these two days symbolised the glorious, and beautiful, truths, that we really have come home, and that we truly are wanted and valued and needed.