Another nail in the coffin of the reformation

Well, crikey o’rielly, what a day. I just got back from York from one of the most jaw-dropping Catholic events ever. Sung extraordinary form Mass in York minster in honour of the feast of St Margaret Clitherow. I’d say it was just as remarkable as the Cofton Park Mass during the Papal visit.

The LMS had estimated there would be 200 to 400 attendees, there were well over 700 of us. At communion they ran out of the body of Christ and had to turn a goodly number away even though only two thirds or so went to receive.

Our contingent turned up 10 to 15 minutes before the start of mass and by that stage the choir of york minster was already standing room only, there were york minster ushers running around with extra chairs but the congregation filled a none too shabby portion of the nave too, york minster being one of the biggest Church’s in Europe.

Due to turning up relatively late I luckily managed to grab a temporary seat right between the two sections of the choir, the really rather good Rudgate Singers, so I had Byrd’s mass setting for five voices in perfect stereo sound, and it was STUNNING.

Fr Stephen Maughan was also on top form both at the Altar and in the Pulpit, though if you know him well you know that’s guaranteed if you see his name at the top of the bill. I just hope to God his career in the Church isn’t hampered by being so wonderfully Catholic but I don’t want to jinx his chances by indulging fantasies of the ascendancy of orthodoxy on that point.

Margaret Clitherow was perhaps one of the bravest martyrs who ever lived, refusing to plead to the charge of sheltering priests so her children wouldn’t have to testify at a trial (and potentially implicate themselves) she was thus  given the  punishment of being crushed to death. A death so horrific that not even stony face executioners had the barbarity to carry the sentence out, they had to hire some beggars to do it for them, and on Good Friday of all days.

So then, an extraordinary form mass, in a now Anglican minster, in honour of a Catholic Martyr and Saint of the reformation. Ecumenism is an interesting thing is it not? It was truly wonderful to bring Catholicism back to a building built by Catholic hands, hats off to the dean of chapter for such a great gesture of friendship towards us Papists. But being there the contradiction of what we believe as Catholics juxtaposed with the knowledge of the Anglican ownership of that building brought some subversive thoughts into my mind.

Thoughts like, How could you possibly remain Anglican for one second knowing that your denomination exists because of martyrdom such as this? How could you remain Anglican and know the beauty of the ‘old rite’ only exists in the Catholic Church? How could you remain Anglican and know that for no good reason you have cut yourself away from the ancient belief of the Church in the Holy Mass? a belief Christians throughout the ages have willingly given their lives for.

Anyway, we processed through York, which was quite a spectacle, suddenly around 500 or so Catholics appeared traipsing through the shambles of York with a gaggle of Clergy at the front praying the rosary (unfortunately we couldn’t hear a word of the rosary because we were in the middle of the procession.)

Things I noticed as we passed by were, firstly the buskers, one who played the lord is my shepherd on his piano, and the guitar band who played sunday bloody sunday as we passed by Ann Summers of all places.

There were a group of kids who; when one of them saw the clergymen said to the rest; “hey there’s this weird group of people in white saying really weird stuff, lets go and check it out” and they ran to the front of the procession to see what was going on.

There was a man who looked rather rough around the edges, who may well have been homeless, who genuflected for the whole lot of us, with his dog barking like crazy beside him.

As we arrived at English Martyrs’ Church York for benediction we heartily sang a Salve followed by benediction with the O Salutaris and Tantem Ergo by Thurlow Weed, and adoremus in aeternum by Gregorio Allegri, all three of which were understated and achingly beautiful.

Benediction also included the prayer for England which was heartily boomed out by one and all, followed by veneration of the relic St Margaret’s hand. During the veneration of the relic faith of our fathers, god of mercy and compassion and lord Jesus think on me were sung from memory. Faith of my fathers always makes me emotional. Being a convert I can’t help but think of my family. Then the final liturgical note we had the Laudes Regiae to hammer home Christ’s kingship and victory, perhaps  even over the travesty that was the protestant rebellion.

Lastly we had tea coffee and biscuits in the parish hall, and the hardy few who had stayed to this point relaxed knowing we were in the company of friends and like minded full blooded recusants.

I get frustrated when Bishops rest on the laurels of the Papal visit (something they didn’t really have much to with its success) when they could be doing the work of the apostles bringing about Catholic events to match it in beauty and significance, just like this one.  It is left to the LMS to boldly go where Bishops fear to tread, hats off to all involved.


9 thoughts on “Another nail in the coffin of the reformation

  1. It was wonderful wasn’t it! Thanks for the compliments to the Rudgates. I’m sorry if you got a face-full of cassock when we came out to do the Gregorian Chant pieces – when we practised there were no plans to fill those spaces with people!

    Singing in the Minster was a new experience for me: it’s one of those acoustic spaces that is much better for listeners than for singers – you can hardly hear the person next to you singing and any hope of listening for counterpoint leads from the other side of the choir is a vain hope!

    We are all very grateful to the Dean and Chapter for allowing us the use of the Minster; a true ecumenical gesture. I’d also like to mention that many of the singers are non-Catholic too. They do it for the love of great music and the continuance of our musical traditions; they too have made a generous ecumenical gesture.

    • Hope I’m not too offensively Catholic then, converts make the best zealots.

      I’ve got to say the music added so much to proceedings that I heartily agree with you, it was a big ecumenical gesture on behalf of non Catholic choir members.

      I always try to remember where I’ve come from, but the more Catholic I get the more I can’t believe I ever settled for less.

      • As a ‘cradle Catholic’ I often think how lucky are those who come to the Church in later life. They have had to think, ponder, consider and finally accept something that came naturally to me and for which, initially, I had no choice. And I can say that I have never even considered change. I think it is wonderful how previous beliefs (or non-beliefs) are cast aside to welcome new beliefs so whole-heartedly. The ‘new’ Catholics are truly blessed.

  2. Thanks for the splendid account; it sounds an awesome occasion. I notice that one or two pictures of the Mass show two Anglicans fully robed. Great to witness them sharing this day. And good to see a young boy serving at the High Altar.
    I often wonder how non-Catholic singers feel when they experience for the first time their liturgical contribution in its intended setting.
    You’re pretty much on the button about converts being the zealots for the Faith. They’ve seen the other side and we cradle Catholics sometimes tend towards complacency, even (and especially) our bishops.
    I have to admit that the most touching part of your account was the man who genuflected. May God bring him back into the fold.

  3. I had the priviledge of being thurifer at Saturday’s Mass & it was wonderful to be able to incense the 2 Anglican clerics after the Offertory. Good to see 9 clergy in choir including the Prior of Leicester Dominican house & the PP of Birmingham Oratory. Several more in the congregation too.
    One wonders whether our bishops will heed the large number in the congregation & the large number communicating or whether they will just turn a blind eye.
    The music too sounded wonderful on the sanctuary & it is a great pity that a video or DVD of the Mass wasn’t made.
    Hopefully this will be the beginning of a tradition & that next year we might have Missa Solemnis.
    Ad Majorem Dei Gloria

  4. I only wish I could have been there.
    But dear Mr. Shinobi, will you please, please, please, use a capital letter M for the word Mass.
    A mass is simply an accretion of things….a mass of flowers, a mass of people, a mass of horse-muck.
    The Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice which Jesus offered to his Father for the expiation of our sins.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s