Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Lest anyone suggest that the blog has gone into abeyance over the summer...!

An important aspect of seminary formation are the holidays away from the seminary. 
But still, it is now August, and Oscott is starting early this year, on 31st, so it won’t be long before we all have to file back through the gates again. 
I’ve enjoyed spending time at home, catching up with my reading (that’s novels, of course, not course-books!) in the sunshine, as well as spending the odd weekend away, or day-trip somewhere, usually involving trawling the antique-shops of East Anglia and the East Midlands. I’ve also spent a lot of my time in my parish, not just drinking tea and eating biscuits with parishioners, but serving and reading at Mass, assisting funerals and baptisms, scuttling off for the occasional sick visit, and, here at home, helping to implement the new translation of the Roman Missal, which will arrive on every Missal stand this September. 
As there hadn’t been any preparation for the new translation at home, it was clear that parishioners were exposed to the new translation as soon as possible, so I’ve led an hour-long catechetical workshop several times over the past few weeks, explaining the reasons behind the changes, and some of the important changes themselves. 
It was heartening to see that almost everybody received the texts really well, and are, mostly, looking forward to their implementation. 
During the reformation of the rite of Mass from 1964, culminating in the introduction ordinary form of our rite in 1969, there was little catechesis or instruction on the changes; an opportunity lost. We are now given, in my view, the best, most effective catechetical opportunity since then, and, perhaps, for many generations still, to help the faithful grow in their understanding of the Christian religion and its sacred rites. It is a shame to see this opportunity not taken up enthusiastically, partly, I suspect, because of lack of resources rather than hostility, so I was glad when a number of parishioners seemed keen to have much more in-depth instruction, the notes for which I’ll be preparing over the next few days. I pray that the Holy Spirit may bestow some of His Wisdom on His servant!
Just to give you something to read over the summer, I may write a few bits and pieces on this blog before September!
Speaking of liturgy, Oscott says goodbye to its liturgy lecturer, Father Timothy Menezies, who has been appointed Vicar General of the diocese of Birmingham. He is replaced by Monsignor Bruce Harbert, of Birmingham, who has been heavily involved in the new translation. 
The Catholic Truth Society (CTS, which can be found at this website) is the new publisher of liturgical texts in this country. As well as producing Missals, they have also provided for the faithful a number of little instructional booklets as part of a new Living the Liturgy series, which I’d like to recommend here. 
The first, Companion to the Order of Mass (LT01) by Mgr Harbert, is an almost line-by-line of the new translation of the liturgical texts of the Missal, particularly, making connexions with scared scripture. Mgr Harbert’s wit and scholarly talent shines through in this short booklet, which, as well as being an account of the translation process, but an excellent spiritual reflection. Much of its content was present to Oscott during our summer pastoral study days, which, if it isn’t a little exaggeration, has really affected my spiritual life. I’d recommend this booklet to anyone and everyone, as it is very accessible, as well as rich and powerful.
The second work, by Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, is Understanding the Roman Missal (LT02) which is a short spiritual reflection on the Mass, and, importantly, links parts of the Mass to scripture and magisterial teachings. The new rite of Mass has been severely lacking in accessible spiritual commentaries, in the model of Abbot Prosper Gueranger (late 19th century); hopefully, these two little booklets will re-ignite a passion for commentaries!

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