A magnificent event, last Saturday: the Deaconing of Brother Benedict Manning, Congregation of the Oratory. I have got to know him because we are members of the same select little seminar which reads Latin liturgical texts together. He is a thoroughly splendid young cleric and an ornament to the Sons of S Philip.
The Sacrament of Holy Order was conferred by Bishop Robert Byrne, himself an Oratorian and one of the two young priests who, on the Feast of our Lady's Nativity in 1990, took over the Parish Church of Oxford. And what immense graces have come (and still are coming) to the City and the University from that event.
As Bishop Robert stood at the Altar offering the Holy Sacrifice, I could not help recalling that, as Bishop of Hexham, he is a Successor of S Wilfrid, that doughty Apostle of Romanita. (It is quite an experience to tread the passages beneath Hexham Cathedral, framed with Roman masonry ... you could feel as if you were in the Catacombs.) His Lordship quoted, in his Homily, a prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman, C.O., written on the occasion of his Anglican Ordination to the Diaconate. This seemed to me a graceful tribute to Newman's own insistence, in his Biglietto speech, upon the essential continuity of his Anglican and his Catholic lives.
And the music was truly Oratorian! A great credit to the Prefect of Music, Fr Oliver Craddock, C.O..
If modern Rome seems to some people to be a trifle less Roman than it ought to be, perhaps they should remember that the spirit of that great Apostle of Rome, S Philip Neri, is vibrantly alive throughout the English-speaking world. Deo ... et Sancto Philippo ... gratias!