Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Ad Multos Annos !

It was Fr. Ray's Silver Jubilee yesterday, and to celebrate, he had a Mass in honour of the Carthusian martyrs. I wasn't entirely certain that I'd be able to go, as driving there and back would be a bit too much for me (I'm still anaemic, and tire very, very easily) but the offer of a lift back afterwards made things easier.

I checked out train times, and discovered that there was a fast train, taking just an hour and one minute, from London Bridge, and I thought that might be my best option, as it would be less crowded than one of the "commuter" trains. However, when I got to London Bridge, there were various announcements about a Brighton train which was supposed to stop at all the stations, but which, due to its being 20 minutes late, would now not be stopping at Gatwick Airport.

Not sure about the reason for the delays, I thought that it might be a good idea to get on the first train which presented itself at the platform, as the station was getting more and more crowded with disgruntled passengers with suitcases (obviously the Gatwick crowd.)

At the first stop, a further announcement was made: the train was so late that only one further stop before Brighton was to be allowed, and all other passengers had to get off. Delighted to discover that my train was now, effectively, the "non-stop" to Brighton service, I settled down for a brief nap.

A taxi from the station deposited me at the church of St. Mary Magdalen. I couldn't see any "reserved" signs, so plumped myself down in a front pew with an eye to taking photos. Fr. Ray spotted me and gave permission to snap away, though I was (jokingly) told there would be a strict embargo until after he'd put some photos on his own blog...

There were two choirs: the parish choir and the Brighton Chamber Choir, and the music was a heady mixture of plainchant and polyphony. Afterwards, I met Clare, who leads the parish choir (and sings in the Brighton Chamber Choir) and was able to express my appreciation. Clare isn't a blogger, but she is good friends with Leutgeb, with whom she will be going to Solesmes in the Summer. The choirs were busy practicing when I arrived, and I got a sneaky shot in early...

The Mass itself was magnificent. Fr. Seán Finnegan preached an excellent sermon on St. John Houghton and the Carthusian martyrs; very stirring stuff. The sermon was a reflection on the last words of St. John, "Good Jesu, what will you do with my heart?" and from there considered the vocation of the priesthood. This passage from the sermon reminded me why we, the laity, owe so much to our priests, and why little signs of love and appreciation for our priests (such as the Chrism Mass Demo) are so important:

"I have always been very struck by the story of Blessed Noel Pinot, a martyr of the French Revolution, who, having been arrested when about to celebrate Mass, ascended the scaffold to the guillotine dressed in the same Mass vestments, reciting to himself the same words we said today 'Introibo ad altare Dei'. The mother of St. John Bosco said to him on his ordination day: 'Remember, son, that beginning to say Mass means beginning to suffer.' These words come home to me and strike at my conscience, because I would far rather have a nice dinner with brandy and cigars than suffering, but I increasingly think that I can never really be worthy of my priesthood until I pour myself more entirely into it. There is nothing worth having that does not carry its price label, and the price label for following the Lord is imitating Him in all things or, as He said Himself, taking up our cross daily. The question is not what do I want (the answer to that is straightforward: I’ll have an easy life, please, involving some nice dinners in agreeable company) but what does He want. In fact, 'Good Jesu, what will you do with my heart?' Because whereas my little wants are rather petty and contemptible, His are wonderful beyond comprehension."

Fr. Tim Finigan posted an account of the Mass, and some other photos. Laurence England (referred to as "Bones" because of his blog title) was also present, and I narrowly escaped having my photo taken outside the presbytery as I left. I believe that a few photos have made their way to the New Liturgical Movement blog, along with a close-up of the vestments. Here are a few more photos that I snapped during the Mass...

Heartfelt congratulations to you, Fr. Ray on your Silver Jubilee, and thank you for accepting Christ's call with such generosity.


Fr Ray Blake said...

I have just Put up one of your magnificent photographs which you sent me I'm going to nick the rest later.
Lovely to see you again.

gemoftheocean said...

Great post, Mac. And thank YOU for being there early enough to bag *the* prime spot for picture taking. [Doesn't Fr. Tim make a good gospel stand? BTW, don't you know that being slightly anemic, that gives you permission to eat all the steak dinners in the world?]]

Mac McLernon said...

Karen, I'm doing my best to raise my steak dinner quotient!


gemoftheocean said...

BTW, I liked how the vestments kinda matched the carpet without being "matchy-matchty."

And father was worried there wasn't enough space to swing a cat!
[With apologies to your handsome kitty, Sylvester.]

bowsk said...

It was great to meet you Mac! Sorry to pounce on you when you were trying to leave.

The Brighton Chamber Choir is led by the great and illustrous Jane Money (in the photo) who also leads the choir of our neighbouring parish the Sacred Heart in Hove. By a strange coincidence Jane and l also attended the same Catholic school in Hampshire albeit at different times, many years ago.


jaykay said...

Thanks for these lovely photos. Obviously a glorious liturgy in a beautiful church. I was struck by something you quoted from the sermon:

"[Fr. Pinot]...ascended the scaffold to the guillotine dressed in the same Mass vestments, reciting to himself the same words we said today 'Introibo ad altare Dei'."

Couldn't help thinking: these days the equivalent would have to be "Well good morning, everybody, isn't it a lovely day. Didn't United do well yesterday?"

Not QUITE the same effect, eh? :p

Mac McLernon said...

ROTFL Jaykay!

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