Sunday 5 April 2020


It's been a very strange Palm Sunday. For several years (almost continually since Summorum Pontificum was promulgated) I have been involved in the singing of the beautiful chants the Church has for this feast. At the start, we only attempted to sing the Rossini propers, the very simple psalm tones designed to accompany the texts of the Procession and the Mass for those who are unfamiliar with Gregorian chant (or any musical notation, in my case!) Then, when we managed to get a few more experienced singers to come along, more of the proper chants were added. This year, having joined a proper choir, I was expecting to sing the full set. God obviously wasn't too keen on the idea - all Masses were suddenly declared off limits to congregations, and churches were closed. And, just to make sure our choir director didn't have any thoughts of going ahead anyway, parishes in Southwark were instructed not to have any servers or choir.

I have often pondered on God's mysterious ways, but this seems a little over the top. I mean, he could have just given me a dose of laryngitis...

Whatever. We are having to celebrate Palm Sunday remotely. I woke up early, and, thanks to the invaluable Mass listings being maintained by the Latin Mass Society, I was able to tune in for Mass at Portsmouth Cathedral. Unfortunately, about halfway through, my medication kicked in and I fell asleep. I woke up for the Consecration, dropped off again and surfaced during the Leonine Prayers and the chanting of the Ave Regina... Even though there is no obligation to watch a Mass, I felt that I wanted to try and catch a few sermons for my edification.

It does seem that the devil is unhappy with the number of people choosing to view the many livestreamed Masses on offer. I'm not sure about viewings for the Novus Ordo, but several people have reported difficulties in getting a connection. Last Sunday there were various excuses offered, such as the sheer number of people logging on, the fact that this was totally new technology for many of the parishes involved, and the bad weather and high winds interfering with wifi signals. By this morning, however, people had got to grips with the technology and the weather was (and is) gorgeous. But several feeds were interrupted by long buffering periods, Ramsgate's Mass not only failed to stream once past the Epistle but it actually failed to record, and the FSSP Mass at St. Mary's Shrine, Warrington completely lost sound by the time they got to the Passion. Usually, at the TLM, the sound is almost irrelevant, at least for the Canon, but not so for the Passion, especially if it's being chanted!

I know, I know... everyone is at home, video conferencing, streaming programmes, using the internet. But, I haven't heard any reports of difficulties in connecting to Netflix or Amazon Prime, or of any major problems when sports events (such as football matches) are being livestreamed. It seems odd that only Masses are affected to this extent...

Anyway, at this point I decided to give up, and went shopping instead.

I have been reading about how people are being told off for not complying with social distancing requirements, and for going out to sunbathe in the park - apparently sunbathing does not count as exercise, even if one is in the middle of nowhere. I was keen to see how the message was being received in Thanet...

There were very few cars on the road, and hardly anyone on the Margate Main Sands or Westbrook Bay. This was noteworthy in itself - I live on a road by the beach, and normally, on a sunny Sunday, I have real problems finding anywhere to park when I return from Mass. Today, not only was the place practically deserted, but, on my return, I was able to park in the identical space I had vacated earlier...

The petrol station was my first port of call, and I was surprised to see that most of the pumps had been switched off. This was not due to any shortage, but purely because they were so quiet, the cashiers found it more practical to keep an eye on just a few pumps. One of the cashiers actually rushed out when she saw me arrive. "I recognised you," she said, "and we're ever so quiet, so would you like a hand filling up your car?" She even provided me with a pair of disposable gloves to use when tapping in my PIN.

The supermarket was similarly deserted. Only one door was open, but security staff were encouraging people to go straight in. One member of staff went to get a mobility scooter for me. There were empty shelves for items which could be stored such as rice, pasta and sauces, but plenty of fresh produce. I must confess to getting more than the bread and milk I had originally set out to buy, but it was such a pleasure to go round the aisles with everyone keeping a good distance and the store being so less crowded than usual that I couldn't resist buying some treats - biscuits, oranges and wine for me, Dreamies for Miaowrini. I spoke to several members of staff who were busy stocking shelves. They seemed pleased to be thanked for their efforts, and it's worth reminding ourselves, I think, that they have been bearing the brunt of the public's frustration due to queues and shortages, while being very much in the firing line for catching the coronavirus, given the number of people they encounter.

Another member of staff offered to take the mobility scooter back when I had put stuff in my car. At first she thought the battery had died, as it refused to move. I explained that it wouldn't move unless the "driver" was seated, and so she sat down... As I left the car park, I heard a distinct cry of "Wheeeeeeee! This is fun!" so I'm pleased her good deed was rewarded!

1 comment:

Zephyrinus said...

I just LOVE that final image of a careering
female doing Wheelies on a Mobility Scooter
in a Supermarket Car Park !!!

What an anti-dote to the previous,
well-crafted Post, Mac, on The Virus, The Chinese,
The Bats, The WHO, The Government, etc.

Thank You.

More Please.

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