Today, Saturday, the London Eucharistic Octave begins, with His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop celebrating a Votive of the Most Blessed Sacrament at noon (hurry!) in the church of Corpus Christi in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. Then, throughout the week, there is Mass in various Uses at 6.30 in the evening in the same church: Monday, in the Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite; Tuesday, in the Divine Worship form of the Roman Rite (i.e. the Ordinariate Rite ... basically the Usus Authenticus in Tudor English with some additions from the Anglican Tradition); Wednesday, in the Usus Novus of the Roman Rite; Thursday, in the Ukrainian form of the Byzantine Rite; and, on Friday, a Solemn Requiem for those who have died of Covid.
On SUNDAY (NOTICE THIS CORRECTION OF MY EARLIER CULPABLE ERROR) 19 September, at 3.30, there is planned a Blessed Sacrament Procession from the Assumption and S Gregory in Warwick Street: which was originally the Portuguese embassy Chapel in the 'penal' days when the only Catholic Worship legally offered in England was in the extra-territorial embassies of the Catholic powers. The Marquis of Pombal ... a sinister figure if ever there was one ... will have worshipped there!
Later, it became the Bavarian embassy Chapel, and so it has housed a number of Jacobite liturgical celebrations while the House of Wittelsbach has been de jure the Royal House of the Three Kingdoms. It then fell upon hard times, as the home of "Gay Masses"; these caused some disquiet in Rome, with the result that the church was, instead, handed over to the Ordinariate, where it houses our splendid liturgical heritage.
The Procession will make Stations at the Jesuit church in Farm Street and at the Ukrainian Cathedral in Duke Street ... before ending up at S James, Spanish Place for Pontifical Benediction. This is yet another former embassy Chapel; I understand that it still possesses a Spanish flag so that, if the Rector suddenly hears of an imminent visit by the King's Majesty of Spain, he can sprint into his church and instantly haul up the Spanish flag in honour of His Most Catholic Majesty. The Rector, incidentally, is the same Father Christopher Colvin whom many readers will remember as Administrator of the (Anglican) Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. Ave, Ave, Ave Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!!!
The Procession will be led by the Ukrainian Eparch, and by Mgr Keith Newton, Episcopus quondam Rutupiensis, Ordinary of the Ordinariate.
What a potent symbol ... what a magnificent prolepsis of Unity ... all this is! Together with Catholics who worship according to the Missal of S Pius V, there will be Byzantines in Full Communion with the See of S Peter; (former) Anglicans now in Full Communion with the See of S Peter; and even Bergoglians in Full Communion with the See of S Peter.
And the unity implied by these celebrations will be diachronic as well as synchronic: the churches hosting the beginning and the end of the Eucharistic Procession are churches dating from Recusant days ... before there was any such See as that of Westminster, founded in 1850. Farm Street, also, dates (just) from the era of the Vicars Apostolic. Bishop Challoner, pray for us all! Maiden Lane, on the other hand, was built after the Restoration of the Hierarchy, and so could be seen as a splendid representative of Flaminian Gate Catholicism. Cardinal Manning, pray for us all!
The Procession will be led by the two hierarchs who represent within the glorious unity of our English Catholic Church the liturgical inheritances of Byzantine and Anglican Christianity.
At a time when it has quaintly been suggested that there is only 'unicus usus' of the Roman Rite' and that liturgical diversity implies disunity, or even a schismatic mentality, it is good to have such a public demonstration that the Church's Unity, in fact, is expressed by her great diversity and by the manifold variety of her rites.
As the authentic Magisterium of Roman Pontiffs has repeatedly and consistently proclaimed.
Sunday, 19th September, not Saturday, dear Father!
Come numerous, all you good Faithful!
I'm jealous.... What a wonderful feast of worship and praise!
All the glory be given to God. What a wonderful Catholic moment in that great city best described by the sage Dr. Samuel Johnson: "If one is tired of London, one is tired of life." I wonder, as an aside, if Dr. Johnson ever had Anglo-Catholic proclivities---but, of course, he lived before the great Catholic Revival in Anglicanism in the 19th century (pace Hooker and Andrewes). A great mind and large soul like his should have inclined him in our direction, no?
The building that is now the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Mayfair also has an important history for those who support Catholic Reunion. Until it was acquired by the Ukrainian Catholics in 1967, it was a Congregational church, the King's Weigh House. King's Weigh House had a famous minister, William E. Orchard, who led a "Free Catholic" revival at King's Weigh House, from 1914 to 1931. He introduced a Catholicizing liturgy offered versus orientem, an altar, confession, Benediction,Eucharistic vestments, incense, prayer for Catholic Reunion. It was essentially the Anglo-Catholic program but in a Free Church context. Dr Orchard even received priestly ordination by an Eastern bishop.
After the death of his wife, Dr Orchard continued in his Free Catholic direction and finally realized that he needed to make his personal reconciliation with the Roman Church. He did so in 1932 and became a Catholic priest. Many members of Fr Orchard's congregation followed him into the Catholic Church. He wrote his apologia in a book called "From Faith to Faith."
Fr Orchard had a remarkable ability to articulate Catholic truth in ways that evangelical Christians could understand and accept. His path showed a way in which communities arising from the Reformation--other than Anglicans who already had a High Church party--could enter into Catholic Unity.
So the building that is now the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile has great importance as a witness to Catholic unity, Eastern and Western.
Here are a couple of links:
Pater Ambrosius - how truly fascinating. What a great depth there is in Catholic London for those willing to look beneath the surface. And of course this Procession has great historical links to our recusant past and to the conversion of this land. It threads from one former embassy chapel (Portuguese and Bavarian), to another (Spanish).
At Warwick Street Saint John Henry Newman said his First Mass on these shores, the day of his return to England from Rome, and we visit Farm Street, whose Jesuits once received countless thousands of converts in the early 20th century, and which is inextricably linked to the Catholic literary life of that period. Truly this is a procession not only on, but of, the streets of London.
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