You may be getting tired of being told that such a day is the Golden Jubilee of my something-or-other, but, who cares, here we go again. Today is the Golden Jubilee of my Deaconing, Trinity Sunday 1967.
In the first millennium, ordinations happened at those wonderful Ember Saturday Masses with the five Prophecies, the respective Orders being conferred one by one between the readings. Where suitable, one of each category of the newly-ordained then discharged his new ministry, for the first time, in that very same Mass. A beautifully edifying practice which, with predictably dogged determination, the post-Conciliar Coetus tasked with revising the Rites of Ordination decided to abolish (slavishly followed, of course, by the Church of England). But my own Ordination to the Diaconate took place in 1967, before these new fads (which, incidentally, Vatican II had never mandated) had done their worst. Accordingly, in that blissful far-off age, the act of Ordination of Deacons still took place before the Gospel of the Mass, so that one of the neodiakonoi could then sing it.
The custom of the Church of England at that time was that the new Deacon given the honour of chanting the Ordination Gospel was the one whom the Bishop's Examining Chaplain deemed to have written the best 'Deacon's Papers'. Herein lies a moral dilemma I wish to put before you. You see, I thought it would be rather nice for Mummy if I myself had that honour. She liked to see her boy doing well. And I happened to know (I think we were given his address so that we could send our Papers directly to him) that the Examining Chaplain that year was a priest who was a keen adherent of an organisation called MRA (Moral Rearmament); which tended to plant certain code-words in its propaganda literature.
You know what I'm going, tot post annos, to confess. Yes ... I planted a number of these expressions (entirely obiter, I hasten to add) in my essays. And, hey presto ...
Which of the commandments did I transgress? I knew you would be able to explain that to me.
I did get a sort of comeuppance. I am hopeless at liturgical chant, so all through the pre-Ordination Retreat ... and during the Ordination Mass itself ... I was consumed with nervousness. To this day, I can remember that wretched Gospel (from S Luke Chapter 12) with its ending " ... and find them so-o, blessed are those ser-ervants". But I did get through it, much to the surprise of Fr Michael Watts (Staggers), the Precentor (his ashes now in that little plot behind the Cathedral's Lucy Chapel, together with the remains of so many of the Patrimony ... quorum animabus propitietur Deus).
Then, off to the Luna Caprese for lunch with Pam, with Senior Daughter (the dear little mite was still in utero but I'm sure she enjoyed the food), and with the third female then in my life; Mummy, you will be glad to be reassured, was pleased.
Long time ago; long time passing. So very much water under Folly Bridge ...
21 May 2017
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As far as liturgical chant goes, you and Mgr. Knox shared the problem.(Though he was actually tone deaf, which I don From The Mass in Slow Motion: "It is a long time since I had to sing High Mass, and when I did, the only thought I can remember entertaining was a vivid hope that I might die before we got to the Preface."
Ad multos annos, Father! And mazeltov!
Many congrats. Mention of the long forgotten, and probably gone, Luna Caprese was a sort of Madeleine moment, dissolving decades.
An endearing and humble post Father! 'Vanity, vanity, all is vanity ....' in the nicest possible way. All Mums want the best for their sons!
But you are so young! It was in 1960 that I performed the same function as a newly hatched deacon in S Thomas of Canterbury - Portsmouth Cathedral - (said, not sung); and then was recycled as a Catholic deacon in another Portsmouth Cathedral (S John's) 51 years later.
Vainglory, Father. However you can take comfort in the thought that you spared another of being tempted into that sin (that is the candidate who, by rights, should have stood and sung in your place and is probably, even now, sitting in some alley drinking himself into oblivion having never recovered from his mother's reaction to his failure.)
This is the nearest that I have ever come to hearing a confession, I trust that my thoughtful and sensitive response has helped you, my son.
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