As I sat on the 'bus into London yesterday (trains are a problem on Sundays) in order to preach at S Mary's Bourne Street, I fell to musing upon Johnny Hind's Sodality of SS Wilfrid and Hilda. It occurs to me that names somehow achieve their own resonances, which are hard to shake out of one's mind. Is it just me, or is Wilfrid a rather 'wet' name with which few parents would now saddle their infant sons? And does Hilda have a decided old-fashioned sound, perhaps evoking visions of aged maiden aunts? I was planning, on that first Sunday in October, to preach on Our Lady of Victories ... I will not insult readers of this blog by explaining why ... and I found myself wondering if the Sodality would have a more virile sound to it if Johnny had called it the Legion of S Pius V, evoking memories of the resolute Pontiff who excommunicated Elizabeth Tudor and did a fair bit of no good to the navies of Ali Pasha.
What fun S Mary's Bourne Street is. For me it evokes the day after our Wedding, when we went to Mass there on Low Sunday 1967 ... and the learned, saintly figure of Eric Mascall, who lived in the presbytery during his retirement. The church is a glorious manifestation of triumphalist 1930s Anglo-Catholicism as expressed in the friendly and accessible baroque of Martin Travers. How good it was to hear the Asperges chant again; and, indeed, the music was truly superb (and varied) and the liturgy done with much love and care. Good, neat, correct, serving; and a large friendly congregation of all ages. As we sang the Angelus at the end, I wondered if this custom would be a distinctive piece of Patrimony and enrich other Christians. Incidentally, who was it that wrote that music which one hears so often in the C of E but never in popish churches? (Only the sermon was indifferent.)
Drinks afterwards with the congregation in the Library of the Presbytery (do RC presbyteries always have a large and well-stocked Library, or is this another piece of the Patrimony?). Then into the Dining Room; I can't remember when I last had such a Sunday lunch: fine fish, fantastic fowl, and fabulous pud. Or enjoyed such good conversation. I sat between two intelligent and distinctly fetching ladies; and there were a couple more across the table*. Intermittently two well-spoken and attractive young women relinquished the toys they had been left to play with in the Library and came to help eat chocolate. I disgraced myself thoroughly by failing to notice how time was flying; and was more than moderately horrified when finally I looked at my watch. I fled in replete and vinous embarrassment.
*Oops ... how one can give oneself away! Truly, the male company was pretty top class - urbane, witty, informed - too!