Another splendid Chrism Mass yesterday! Celebrated as ever by the Nuncio, as the Holy Father's particular representative; a lovely piece of symbolism since it reminds us that canonically and ecclesiologically we are directly under the Sovereign Pontiff himself; a detached portion, you might say, of the Church of Urbs Roma herself, miraculously transplanted into this our land. To great applause (I have to admit we did become a trifle unliturgical in our exuberance) Archbishop Tony, as I have heard him called, assured us (and not just once!) of the very special affection in which Pope Francis holds us. Among the massed concelebrants, our six formerly Anglican bishops. And Keith was very persuasive on Mission ... Chrisma as the "Oil of Mission". What a privilege it is to be incardinated into this splendid body.
Through an open door, I happened to notice, over the fireplace in the Ordinary's study, a fine painting of Bishop Graham Leonard. I felt quite touched; how marvellous to be reminded of that great Pontiff but, even better, to be reminded by him of our continuities ... that we lineally constitute as a Coetus that Ecclesia Anglicana planted by S Augustine Romanissimus Romanorum which was violently wrenched into schism under the Tudors but then, over the grace-filled centuries, felt its way back to full Catholic orthodoxy and the fullest and most whole-hearted adherence to the Magisterium. (You should have heard us sing Praise to the Holiest at the end!) We have so much to be proud of ... Oops; I should have said, "Grateful for"; grateful for Grace, grateful for each other, grateful for Pope Benedict. God bless him! I am sure it is his prayers, joining with those of the amoluntos Theotokos of Walsingham and of Blessed John Henry, that propel us on our Way.
How the Clergy did chatter, before and after. We are so far flung that we have a lot of catching up to do. I don't think I heard one little bit of bad news; just talk of growth ... and "How's your family?" ... and "I didn't hear about the Letter until it had gone to press" ... and "What a lot of laity this morning, and weren't they cheerful?" ... and "Thank you so much for your blog" (Thank YOU, dear Fathers.) The only hints of sadness were occasional reminiscences of those who had said they would join us on our journey into unity with Peter, but who drew back at the last moment. How much more we could be doing if only ...
Perhaps we have spent too much time enjoying ourselves and not enough time in penitential prayer for them? I, for my part, plead guilty to that failing. God give them the grace to understand, and give to me the grace of self-denial.