Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter Vigil At Blackfen

2011 04 23_0024The Easter Vigil at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, is beautiful. Because Easter is so late this year, although the sun had officially set fifteen minutes before the start of the Vigil, there was still quite a bit of twilight. I had a major panic as I started to take photos - the display screen appeared to have switched off, and I thought I'd broken my beloved camera. Fortunately, through much pressing of random buttons, I managed to get things going again.

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Things weren't just going wrong for me... the Paschal Candle had a very thin wick this year, and it wouldn't stay alight... the MC had to take it into the sacristy for a rapid wax trim. That seemed to do the trick. I wasn't surprised - when last year's Paschal Candle arrived in various pieces through careless postage and packaging, Gregory did a makeover on the previous year's candle, which saved the day.

Fr. Tim chanted the Exsultet, which I managed to catch on video - though I missed the first minute or so because I got distracted by the shenanigans with the Paschal Candle. I shall put up the video as soon as I've uploaded it to YouTube.

The servers had fun once again with the bell-ringing. I gather that one of the servers actually brought a couple of bells from home in order to be sure of getting one to ring!

Once the lights went on, the statues were unveiled and the flowers brought out, the church looked beautiful. The choir sang for all they were worth, and it was magnificent.

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Once again, you can see a selection of photos on my Flickr pages.

Kitten Capers...

My two kittens have very different temperaments. Monsignor Miaowrini loves to go out - at the moment, with the gorgeous weather we're having, she's out almost all day. Yesterday she was entranced by a squirrel (according to one of my neighbours, whose flat looks out onto the garden) and, not yet able to climb the fence (Miaowrini is just the clumsiest kitten I've ever encountered) she followed it along the bottom of the fence right the way to the back of the garden until the squirrel escaped over the garages.

I was tired after the Good Friday liturgy, and fell asleep on the sofa at about 7pm. I awoke at midnight, and realised that Miaowrini was still out gallivanting. I called her a few times, but there was no reply. I did some washing up, steeling myself to go out hunting for her mangled corpse if she didn't return by the time I finished...

She came in through the cat flap just as I put the last plate away. She did her best to look nonchalant and innocent of all wrong-doing, but the smudge of what looked suspiciously like oil on her nose suggested that she had been up to no good...

Monsignor Furretti, on the other hand, really doesn't seem to like going out. I think she has had a run-in with a neighbouring cat - the same one that knocked Sylvester off the top-cat perch. Of course, it could just be that it is really very hot out, and Furretti is a black, long-haired cat. I pushed her out through the cat flap this morning to encourage her to go outside (she was eyeing the litter tray in a speculative way) but, after two minutes of her looking plaintive on the ledge, I relented and let her back in. I stroked her fur as she passed me, and was shocked at how hot her coat had become.

She much prefers lounging around inside, preferably on the table next to the computer (when I'm on  the computer) or on top of the computer monitor. Occasionally I wonder if she's worried I'll leave her - she was a rescue kitten, and was abandoned at the age of 4 months.

Anyway, I went out just before lunchtime, and, on my return, I thought I'd have a look in the garden to see if the kittens were out. They were both in the bushes round the side of the block. I stood at the garden end and called them down, and the two kittens came to see what I was up to...

They seem contented enough. I'll post more soon...

Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday...

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I thought I'd try a photo of the High Altar in a sepia tone, because it looked so stark and bare. I like the sepia tone - black and white seems less effective (although I think black and white works better for portrait shots - one of the only pictures of myself that I like is a black and white photo!)

I found myself in tears during the veneration of the Cross. The choir sang O sacred head ill-used, which is one of my favourite hymns. Fr. Tim Finigan is seen here, creeping to the Cross in stockinged feet, along with Michael Baldry, our deacon...

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A few more photos can be seen on my Flickr page.

Maundy Thursday...

2011 04 21_0031The Maundy Thursday services at Blackfen yesterday were awesome. We had Mass in the Extraordinary Form, followed by Vespers, and then there was watching until midnight at the Altar of Repose...

My memory appears to be going AWOL... I was sure that last year we didn't celebrate Vespers, but Jonathan Hague, Blackfen's Senior MC, assured me that we did exactly the same last year!

The altar servers appear to have had great fun ringing the bells at the Gloria...

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The Mandatum...

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The choir were in good voice, though sadly our Choir Mistress, Brenda, was in hospital...

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And the Altar of Repose was truly beautiful, thanks to the work of Hilda, our Sacristan...

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You can see more Maundy Thursday photos on Flickr.

UPDATE: I have just looked at last year's post about Holy Week, and realised that Jonathan was absolutely correct in his assertion that we had Vespers as well... In my defence, there was a lot going on that week (like my car breaking down in a pretty catastrophic manner!) and so I've probably blotted the entire week from my memory as a way of preserving my sanity...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Something Strange...

For some reason I am getting an influx of hits from different people searching for images of chickens...

Hmmm. Must be nearly Easter.

Holy Week Continues Apace...

We have been really blessed at Blackfen to be able to have Mass in both forms during Holy Week. I prefer to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form if I am given a choice, so, after the marathon of Palm Sunday, I had a luxurious lie-in on Monday morning (much to the disgust of the kittens, who wanted the cat-flap (and the cat food) to be opened at silly o'clock) and I went to Low Mass on Monday evening. Tuesday provided me with another opportunity for a lie-in, but I figured that it would be needed, as the Missa Cantata held in the evening included an extra Lesson and the singing of St. Mark's Passion.

Given that it was an evening Mass, the thirty minutes needed to chant the Passion proved a little too much for one young parishioner - his gentle (but penetrating) snores were most poignant when Jesus was upbraiding the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane...

The next morning was less relaxing: we had Low Mass at 7am. This meant I had to get up at 5:30am so I could feed the kittens, wash, dress and drive to the church early enough to help set up. The children present were full of the joys of Spring, the adults, on the other hand, were looking somewhat the worse for wear.

2011 04 20_0006I wanted to go to Tenebrae at St. Mary Moorfield's in the evening, but I hadn't ever been to that church, and was a little doubtful about driving in. I considered going on public transport, but my knee and ankle have been playing up a lot, and I didn't relish the hassle which would be involved, especially for coming back afterwards. I printed off the route (via Google Maps) and set off.

I almost turned around again because of the traffic queues on the A2 - the Blackwall Tunnel was backed up right the way to the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout. However, I was hopeful that the traffic would clear once I got across the river, and this proved to be the case. I got close and estimated that I'd be about 15 minutes late...

Somehow or other I took a wrong turn, and got hopelessly lost. After driving for another 45 minutes, confused by one-way systems and massive roadworks, I finally found the church. I suddenly realised that I'd driven past it about half an hour before... possibly twice...

2011 04 20_0007I crept in at the back, an hour late. Fortunately, this being Tenebrae, we were only somewhere in the Second Nocturn! (Ok, I probably got that wrong, but the service did continue for another hour and twenty minutes!) The music was a mixture of plainchant where the congregation got to join in and heavenly polyphony sung by Charles Finch's music group.

At the end, I asked if it would be ok to put my photos up on the blog, and permission was granted - I like to ask when I go somewhere new.

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The journey home was even more fraught than the journey in. Jonathan (Blackfen's Senior MC) offered to act as navigator, so it was straightforward enough (although traffic was unusually heavy) but, despite warnings that the southbound Blackwall tunnel would be closed from 21 April, we found that it was closed a day early... it took two hours to get back to Blackfen! I was a little concerned that the kittens would be out gallivanting (I hadn't closed the cat-flap before I left) and might have become fox food, but they were both waiting to greet me as I opened the door.

You can see more photos of Tenebrae at St Mary Moorfield's on my Flickr page.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Addicted To Blogging...?

No. Not a bit. I could give it up tomorrow...

Well, ok, I'll admit that I probably couldn't... not really. I mean, at the very least, I need somewhere to showcase my photos. It's no fun if no-one looks at them. I was really chuffed last night when a parishioner told me that he has a copy of Miaowrini's "mouser" photo as his desktop.

Admittedly I go through dry phases where I just don't seem to have anything much to say. The rest of the time, I blog about having nothing to say instead!

Seeing the quiz about blog addiction, I just couldn't resist. And 78% isn't bad. It could have been much, much worse...

78%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?
Created by OnePlusYou

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Stephen Wang.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Six Years Already... Ad Multos Annos!

"Isn't time fun when you're having flies?" as one frog said to the other!

I wasn't blogging back then - I started just under a year later, on 13 May 2006. The day of the Holy Father's election will, I hope, be one I remember forever... I have posted much of this before, but it was such a wonderful event that I don't mind repeating myself. You don't have to read it!

I remember it well. I was teaching RE in a Catholic School and had been talking about the conclave all day to my students. At lunchtime, Fr. James Clark (our priest chaplain) had popped into the staffroom, and the two of us tried to see what was happening on various internet sites, hampered by painfully slow internet connections - there was a bit of a scare when the report of "white smoke" was mentioned, but it soon became clear that the smoke was a definite black.

Immediately school was over, I drove back to the parish... I didn't have cable or satellite TV at home, I didn't trust the BBC's coverage of Catholic news even then, and Fr. Tim had said that, as nothing was booked for the evening, I could go in and watch the TV in the large hall for a bit... he was at the seminary at Wonersh, I think, but I met the parish secretary, Bridget, at the door, and she gave me the key to the hall.

I was pretty sure nothing would happen for a while, but it was a luxury to be able to hear what the different TV stations had to say about the whole process... so I arranged my books for marking, turned on the TV and went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. As I was fishing out the teabag, I heard the announcer state that black smoke had gone up. I was disappointed, but not terribly surprised - it was only the second day of the conclave, after all - and I decided that I'd just drink my tea, do some marking while listening to the news in the background and then go home.

As I sat down, consternation seemed to be breaking out among the announcers. They were absolutely sure that the smoke was black... but it did look just a little bit grey. The crowds were cheering wildly... so the presenters were explaining that the crowds had to be wrong, because the smoke was black... well, ok, grey... but it was meant to be black... and anyway, to prevent any mistake the presenters had been told that bells would ring as well as white smoke, and there were no bells... but that smoke did look a bit pale... no, it was grey... but the cheering crowds had definitely gotten it wrong because there were no bells... but... oh, look, white smoke... but what about the promised bells...?

...and then the bells started up!

As you can imagine, I abandoned the marking...

A group of people suddenly appeared in the hall - they had assumed that the hall would be empty, and they wanted to set up the tables for refreshments after a funeral on the next day... did I mind? I explained that I was just watching the TV, so I didn't mind, as long as I wasn't in their way.

I had jokingly commented the day before that it would be great if Cardinal Ratzinger was elected, but had been told firmly that this just wasn't possible, though he might turn out to be influential as "kingmaker." I continued to watch, determined to see the moment when the name of the new Pope would be announced...

That wily old Cardinal Estevez was milking it for all it was worth... When I heard "Josephum" I screamed and jumped up and down... I didn't know that there was another Cardinal called Joseph, but the "Ratzinger" which followed after the pause confirmed the good news.

Phone calls and furious texting to friends ensued. The other people in the hall seemed a little bemused by my behaviour. "Errm... it's good news then?" they asked, a little hesitantly. "Very good indeed!" was my delighted response.

I stayed until the new Pope had appeared on the balcony, and then went home, deliriously happy. After an evening phoning friends and being phoned, I heard that Fr. Patrick Burke (whom I know well through the Faith Movement) was to be on Newsnight...

A wonderful day. I also remember the disgruntled comment made to me in the school car park the following morning as I clambered out of my car clutching several laminated posters of the newly elected Pope ready to be plastered all over my classroom. "See the result of the election last night? I suppose you're happy then?"

To which the reply was "Yes. Very!"

So, where were you, and what were you doing when you heard the good news?

Happy Anniversary, Holy Father. Ad multos annos!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Palm Sunday...

2011 04 17_0023Yesterday was really hectic, as I explained in my previous post, and I didn't have a chance to edit and upload my photos - adding the titles and stuff to Flickr is a slow process for me! However, the Easter Holidays are upon us, so I had time this morning to attend to photostream housekeeping.

2011 04 17_0037Yesterday's Mass was absolutely amazing. It took 53 minutes before we got to the Introit, and then, after the preliminaries, the chanting of the Passion took another 40 minutes. Although the Passion seems to go on forever (especially if one is standing - though I decided to avoid straining my knee and wimped out) the Mass as a whole really doesn't seem long. I was really surprised to discover that the whole celebration had lasted two and a half hours. The only reason I'm sure about the timings is that I'd been asked to make a note of them, for future reference!

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The deacon and subdeacon both wore folded chasubles, and the deacon also wore the broad stole (which is also a folded chasuble) at various points. The New Liturgical Movement site has an excellent article on the use and development of the folded chasuble if you want to read more about it.

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Do pop over to my Flickr account and have a look at all the photos I took yesterday. I'm really pleased with them - my little Canon IXUS camera was one of the best purchases I've made, and it's given me a tremendous amount of pleasure. I am contemplating investing in a "proper" camera, so that I can take up photography as a serious hobby. Then again, maybe I don't need to!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A Busy Day...

Today has been very hectic.

I overslept, then I had to make a mad dash down to North Greenwich to collect Dr. Laurence Hemming who was to be deacon at the Solemn High Mass celebrated for Palm Sunday at Blackfen. I started to panic as I suddenly noticed that a lot of the slip roads onto and off the A2 were closed due to the London Marathon. However, all was well, if later than I'd have liked. The Palm Sunday celebrations went on for two and a half hours. I then drove the deacon back to North Greenwich, met up with friends for lunch, drove to Chislehurst to collect a supply priest and brought him to Blackfen, attended the evening Palm Sunday Mass and then drove the supply priest down to Ebbsfleet International so he could catch a train.

Hectic. And tiring.

So, I thought a little light relief would be in order...

(Suddenly I realise that Miaowrini is not alone in her accident-prone-ness and general nosiness!)

I don't like the bit where the person throws the cat up to the ceiling. That's not nice. The rest is very funny...

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