Monday, 11 May 2020
Meeting Up With An Old Friend...
Some priests have found it rather weird to offer Mass versus populum when there isn't a populum present. A few have overcome the difficulty by sticking photos of parishioners onto the pews, so that they can picture the people who should be present - of course, this risks Mass being seen as a rather exclusive club for friends of the priest. Other priests have opted to offer Mass ad orientem, which solves the problem of there not being a congregation.
Another group of priests has apparently bitten the bullet and used the time to offer the Traditional Latin Mass, or to learn how to do so.
I have no interest in looking at recordings of Masses, other than to skip to the sermon. Livestreamed Masses are a different matter: it is definitely not the same as being physically present, even if not receiving Holy Communion, but knowing that the Mass is actually being offered "at this precise moment at this particular altar" makes it a bit more special. The Latin Mass Society has been coordinating and maintaining a list of all the livestreamed TLMs being offered around the country, which has been an invaluable resource for anyone wishing to attend virtually. I'm not aware of any such coordinated list of nationwide Novus Ordo Masses, which makes the efforts of the LMS even more praiseworthy.
Because I was involved in the choir, I never got to attend Sunday TLMs at other parish churches, and rarely managed to get to weekday Masses during term time. I had a great time during the first week of lockdown popping in to different places while Mass was going on, just to see what the churches were like, if they had music, whether a sermon was given regularly and so on. After that I settled into a bit of a routine.
On Sundays I log in at my own parish - partly because I could sing along with the Gregorian Chant, partly because the Parish Priest, Fr. Christopher Basden, gives excellent sermons, and partly through loyalty to the Parish. Also, the Mass is at midday, so I'm definitely awake. The rest of the week is a little more flexible, depending on what time I wake up, but I usually attend the ICKSP Mass at the Dome of Home, New Brighton.
I have never been to the church in real life, so don't know the layout. The Holy Week services I saw all seemed to be at the same altar, but after the Octave Masses moved to a different altar. And now I see that they must have the High Altar and at least two side chapels. The Feast of St. Monica was celebrated in what I assumed to be the Lady chapel. I spotted a statue on a slender plinth which looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't get the picture to a high enough resolution to work out which saint it was, only that it was a woman. I thought it reminded me of one of my favourite saints.
Last Saturday, after the Leonine Prayers, the priest and server moved towards the statue, and I realised that my initial hunch had been right: it was a statue of St. Philomena. On Saturday mornings the parish appears to have a set of devotions to her: a hymn, novena prayer and a litany in her honour. And then I discovered that the parish was properly called Ss. Peter & Paul and St. Philomena.
I felt a real jolt of recognition - rather like meeting an old friend... She's a particular favourite of mine because of her habit of producing miracles to confound modernist sceptics, leading to her being called the Wonder Worker. If you want to know more about St. Philomena, you can read more over at Zephyrinus' blog.