At this year`s Ushaw conference it was announced that I was to be the chaplain to the LMS for the North of England, following the LMS` decision to have regional chaplains as well as a national chaplain. When approached about this I asked what it would involve and was told it was to be available for LMS events for the North of England area. As there haven`t been any of these in recent years I thought it sounded safe to accept and enjoy the kudos without any responsibility.
No sooner than I had accepted I was asked to be the speaker at this year`s AGM and then to be assistant priest at a pontifical Mass at Westminster cathedral. I remember LMS AGM`s of old as being rather lively where the speaker might even be heckled by SSPX supporters or worse. However I thought it would be an interesting experience and agreed. I had been assistant priest to bishop Rifan on his British tour of 2004 and thought I could mug it up again. It is one of the benefits of the liturgical revolution that opportunities arise that probably wouldn`t have before `the changes`. For example, if a member of what we used to call the `indult community` (but now I suppose is the EF community), dies, then whereas before the council a person may have had a Requiem consisting of a Low Mass (maybe with hymns) now you get a full sung Mass and sometimes even a Solemn High Mass! So I get to be an assistant priest at a Pontifical High Mass at Westminster cathedral which may not have happened before the changes.So I set to work on my talk which was to last 20 minutes and talk about the papal visit, the beatification of Cardinal Newman and the 2010 report by the world`s bishops requested by the Vatican on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. On arriving at Westminster Cathedral Hall I sensed that this was not to be an AGM like I remembered. In the past the Mass was in the morning and the AGM after lunch. Now it is the other way round. This seems to have had the effect of reducing the attendance at the AGM which was about half full. I felt relaxed and after the reports from the secretary, treasurer and chairman, I spoke and found it much less nerve-wracking than I had feared.
We had had a rehearsal for the Mass on Friday afternoon. I had I thought learned my moves over the previous weeks but still found I went blank a couple of times. Bishop Hopes remained very calm throughout. In fact he seemed so assured I asked him afterwards whether he ever celebrates the EF apart from the LMS events at Westminster Cathedral but apparently he doesn`t. An added difficulty was that the bishop did not know by heart many of the prayers for blessing incense or at the foot of the altar etc., so our MC Gordon Dimon had not only to remember the usual things for a pontifical Mass at the faldstool but also ensure that various bits of laminated plastic with extra prayers were brought to the bishop. The pictures however look very good and the one of the consecration I am going to print off and frame!After Mass bishop Hopes invited the clergy into cathedral house for a cup of tea. Fr Hayward our subdeacon had gone but Fr Irwin and myself went in. Fr Iwrin is a priest at St James, Spanish Place where he says the Sunday EF Low Mass. We also met the cathedral dean who is going to Downside in August to learn the EF.
I was glad of this opportunity to speak at the AGM and assist at the Mass. I thought the Mass was well-attended and enjoyed, amidst the heat and trying to remember what to do next, the singing of Victoria`s O Quam Gloriosum Mass.
I was grateful to Fr Briggs of Chislehurst for giving me accommodation on Friday night and enjoyed going out for a pizza with him and Fr Tim Finigan, Britain`s most eminent Catholic priest blogger. Many thanks to Joseph Shaw for the photos of the Mass.
Now for High Mass tonight with Haydn`s Little Organ Mass. My next visit to Westminster Cathedral will be to concelebrate Mass with Benedict XVI in September!