19 October 2010

Blessed John Eynon

Sunday morning, I took a day off from S Thomas's to go and sing the Mass and to preach at S Giles' Reading. A great joy; a vibrant congregation of all types, ages and races. They probably found some details of my Mass a little unfamiliar; I have not celebrated a Sung ICEL Novus Ordo since I left Lancing in 2001, and I am a bit rusty as far as the ICEL melodies for the sung bits go. Playing for safety, at the end of the Canon I sang "Throughout all ages, world without end" (note for RCs: this is the old Anglo-Catholic version of "Per omnia saecula saeculorum" ... it provides more syllables on which to load the Tridentine notes than "For ever and ever" ... try them both out, and you will see).

It was good to find the congregation in good spirits and recovering well from the sudden and most sad death of the saintly and learned Fr Melrose. The singing was lusty and the Organ a joy to hear; the serving was perfect and unobtrusive, even when it came to discretely reminding an incompetent visiting celebrant that he ought to have turned his radio-mike off! Sorry, folks, to be such a burden! Some time I really must make an effort to move into the twentieth century. I was privileged to find the Best Green Set laid out for me: quite superb. Am I right in assuming there might well be something French about vestments on which the crosses mimic the exact shape of the cross of the Saint Esprit? I realised why we have the custom of removing the maniple to preach: a properly massive and stiff spade-ended maniple would cramp the style of exuberant preachers. And S Giles is enough to bring out the Bossuet in anyone.

Afterwards I was able to relax with the congregation (is it a sign of advanced years that I seemed to discover some connection or other with everybody I spoke to?) before being whisked off to a soft, superb, and succulent lunch. An example of the sort of mental inferences I was able to pursue: the parish must be above the water-table of the Thames because such fine wines could not but be the result of a large, varied, well-judged, and intelligently maintained cellar. I wonder how that would go in syllogistic form. What an easy subject Geography is.

As the train bore me back to waterlogged fluviality of Oxford, I reflected with complacent pleasure that I have had the privilege of offering the most august Sacrifice of the Mass at the altars of two Beati: Bl John Eynon of Reading; and Bl John Henry Newman of Oxford.

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