Apologies to all those who have been asking me to add a new post for my absence. There was the papal visit and then the Forty Hours. It took a couple of days to recover from the Forty Hours as I had to close the church at 1am and then open up again at 6am. I`m glad to say that all went well although I wish I could motivate more parishioners to take a turn. One thing I hadn`t made clear was what the Holy Hour on Monday night would be. I had prepared an hour of material on Newman and went into church at 8pm to find only one person watching so I thought it best to leave it to another time.
I missed quite a lot of the papal visit with leaving Newcastle for London on the Thursday after waving off our parishioners on the bus to Bellahouston. However I tried to keep up with the news via the internet and once I heard there were 125,000 people lining the route in Edinburgh and less than 150 protesters it seemed things were going to go OK. I had been saying to people that I was sure that once Pope Benedict got here and they saw him and heard him then things would be fine. I said this keeping my fingers crossed. However things just seemed to get better and better as the visit went on.
I planned to leave at 6am to get to Westminster cathedral for 7am on the Saturday. What I wasn`t planning was waking up at 4.30 and not being able to get back to sleep! It was exciting to drive down a deserted Mall and see it lined with Papal flags and Union Jacks. Security at the cathedral wasn`t as time-consuming as I thought it would be and I was son in the cathedral hall where tea, coffee and biscuits were available. It was strange to think I had been there earlier in the year to talk at the LMS AGM. Slowly the hall filled with priests and it was fascinating to meet priests I`d not seen since leaving Ushaw in 1988. It was good to meet other old friends too.
The Mass was a tremendous event. I liked the MacMillan Tu es Petrus. It was fabulous to hear the Byrd five-part Mass being sung at a papal Mass in Westminster cathedral with the archbishop of Canterbury in the sanctuary, kneeling for the consecration. It made me wonder what those who first heard that Mass sung in recusant days would have thought. It was interesting to see the archbishop of Canterbury exhibiting signs of knowledge of the EF as he crossed himself at the end of both the Gloria and the Creed!
I was back in Newcastle by 9 at night. After Mass on Sunday I spent most of the day watching the news and trying to catch up with what I`d missed. I particularly wanted to see coverage of the Big Assembly as our head from St Stephen`s, Longbenton had gone down with two children from the school and he had texted me to say they were in the front row. They had a fabulous time.
It was interesting to hear the Holy Father remind the bishops abot the new translation of the Ordinary Form and Anglicanorum Coetibus. No mention of Summorum Pontificum however! Oh well.
I personally did find it all a time for faith (and hope) to be strengthened. What else is there left for this Pope to do? My hope now is that he manages to visit Moscow and build a path to unity with the Orthodox.