Saturday 7 April 2012

Palm Sunday At Blackfen...

2012 04 01_0018We were extremely fortunate to be able to have a Solemn High Mass for Palm Sunday. The Palm Sunday liturgy isn't for the faint-hearted, though - with the blessing of palms, the outdoor procession and the chanting of the St. Matthew Passion it is just over two and a half hours long. It's such an amazing visual and aural feast that it doesn't feel like it's that long, but it does require some advance planning for lunch...

2012 04 01_phone_0018

The photos are just a little late in getting uploaded - actually, I did upload them a few days ago, but needed the Senior MC to check my descriptions. Using two cameras, one on BST and one on GMT, meant that the photo order got a little muddled. However, you can see a few more over on my Flickr page.

Thursday 5 April 2012


It has become something of a custom at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, to have extra Masses at the start of Holy Week for the benefit of those who are at work and can't attend during the day. The Monday and Tuesday Masses are in the evenings, but the Mass for Spy Wednesday is in the morning (at 7am, as the Gospel is a little on the long side...) so that it is possible to attend Tenebrae on Wednesday evening.

Tenebrae is the service of Matins and Lauds of the Triduum, and a candle is extinguished after each of the psalms, until finally all are out and the lights are turned out. The banging of books represents the earthquake (I think!) But the very last candle is only hidden from view, and it gets shown again at the end.

One year I went to Tenebrae and the last candle had actually been extinguished, which caused a bit of consternation for the MC when the time came for its reinstatement...

Yesterday I decided to make the effort to go to St. Mary Moorfields. As our Senior MC remarked, it seems like a trek to get there, but you realise it was worth it afterwards. The journey itself was simple enough, though finding a parking place in Finsbury Circus proved to be a very suitably penitential exercise - I think I drove around it six times looking for the exit nearest the church - all of the exit streets looked the same and all were named "Finsbury Circus" which didn't help. I had used my mobile phone as sat-nav, and the battery had gone flat as I haven't managed to get an in-car charger yet, though fortunately it got me as far as Finsbury Circus first.

The liturgy at St. Mary Moorfields had been organised by the Latin Mass Society who had arranged for Cantus Magnus to sing the polyphony.

Although the phone camera was out of action, I had my "proper" camera with me as well, and so I recorded a couple of the polyphonic responses sung by the choir. This one is from the third Nocturn of Matins: Gesualdo's Una Hora.

I didn't take many photos, as there isn't much going on around the sanctuary during Tenebrae. This meant I was free to record "Eram quasi agnus innocens" from the second Nocturn, and you can listen to that over on YouTube.

I also recorded the Benedictus - the canticle of Zachariah - at the end of Lauds where the final candle is "extinguished"... and here polyphony alternates with plainsong. I particularly like the contrast - remember that everyone, including members of the congregation, joins in with the plainsong parts, so it's not perfect, but that is its charm.

It was definitely the best way to start the Triduum... Perhaps one year we can celebrate it at Blackfen!

That 40 Days For Life Vigil...

I haven't been blogging very frequently and, although I thought I had mentioned the 40 Days for Life campaign this year, it seems to have slipped by without comment on my blog, which is annoying. I had meant to say something!

Then followed a lot of negative press given to the Vigil, particularly when Bishop Alan Hopes indicated that he would attend in order to lead the Rosary. One comment from the pro-abortion crowd really had me scratching my head in perplexity - apparently "Bishops have no business moralising about abortion..." Actually, they do, that is the main business of a shepherd, to warn the sheep when they are going off in the wrong direction, to protect them...

Not having said anything to that point, I initially decided to stay quiet, especially as I hadn't been there for the "showdown" on Friday, when the counter-demonstration happened. I understand that there was controversy over filming on a previous occasion, which some people had found intimidating. I agree wholeheartedly that filming women going in to the clinics is completely wrong. However, filming the people praying in the vigils has actually been beneficial in the past, to guard against false accusations of intimidatory behaviour. Remember the landlord of the abortion clinic who came out brandishing a chainsaw? In addition, the whipping-up of the anti-Vigil demonstration started well before the cameraman incident, in fact, it started as soon as Bishop Hopes' presence was announced. One lone cameraman filming on one occasion was a convenient excuse, not a cause.

I've spoken to people who were actually present at the Vigil on Friday. One of the most rational accounts I have read is that of Leutgeb over on Bara Brith, and I have a great deal of respect for her common-sense approach to life, so it's her report which carries most weight with me.

But the final thing which made me break silence is the fact that, arousing such vehement responses from the pro-abortion camp, suggests that the 40 Days for Life vigils are having an effect. There wouldn't have been the need to protest against some religious nutcases standing on street corners if that was all they were. Rather inconveniently, the people attending the vigils are just ordinary people, men and women, young and old. In fact, the very violence of the response indicates to me that the truth pro-life message is slowly trickling through, aided by ultrasound images of the unborn child which make it impossible to pretend that abortion is just the removal of an inconvenient blob of tissue.

So, even if mistakes were made (we are merely human, after all), the 40 Days for Life endeavour deserves praise and encouragement for the good which has been achieved so far.
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