8 April 2009

Chrism Mass

Just back from the Chrism Mass with Archbishop Vincent, his last and my first as a cleric, with Birmingham. I was reflecting, that it is, probably, my favourite of all Masses at the Cathedral. I love the Vigil, but for me, at least, that is better celebrated in a parish setting. However, the Chrism, with the wonder of over 200 priests and a packed Cathedral. When the final doxology is sung, it gets me every time. You just can't beat the it.

This year, His Grace preached very well indeed on prayer together with some reflections on the strengths of the diocese. It was good to hear his words. Given that he was a stranger to the diocese, one might say that he has a disinterested view of what he has come to love about our diocese. Certainly, he spoke with sincerity, warmth and not a little sadness at leaving us. Someone said to me, "it must be a daunting task, taking Westminster at 63!" and you know he's quite right. When most people in this country would be turning their mind to firming up retirement plans, here is Archbishop Vincent taking on more and more. Good luck to you, Your Grace. You have my prayers and support.

There were many aspects of the Mass which moved me deeply, but if I may mention just two (to paraphrase +Vincent) it was the first reader (who I am reliably informed is Head of RE in a Catholic school) and Mike Stanley starting off the responsorial. In the first instance, the intonation of the reading was perfect. I really, really felt it was the Lord speaking, such that when she said, This is the Word of the Lord, I was tempted to respond, indeed, it is! Thank you God for such great liturgy that the appropriate response is Thanks be to God. In the second instance, Mike hit his note right on the nose; solo in the cathedral and with the inevitable practice that there must have been and no accompaniment - perfect. What was so good, in my mind at least, was that it was only on reflection that I was struck it was Mike's skill and ability which had made this moment so spiritual. At the time I was just struck with the awe of God's almighty word.

So, Liturgy of the Word, leading to prayer, just as you would want in the perfect Mass. A happy deacon!

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