LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Just slightly surprised . . .

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been; but I admit that I was slightly surprised this morning when I got to Westminster Cathedral.

Today is Blessed John Henry Newman’s day – for the very first time – and of course at the Oratories it is kept as a Feast : my understanding being that in the general English Kalendar it is only a Memorial (and apparently only an Optional one at that).

I heard two Masses at the Oratory – the Extraordinary Form at 08:00 and a private Ordinary Form at 09:15; and was present during, although not attending, the 10:00 Ordinary Form, all at the Newman Altar : and in each case the number of worshippers appeared to be noticeably up on an ordinary Saturday. (Incidentally, there was also, of course, Veneration of a Relic of the Beatus at the end of Mass; a delightful addition to the liturgy.)

Wasn’t I surprised, then, when at the Cathedral – I was book-shopping next door, not visiting the Cathedral – I witnessed a vast hoard (including many priests) pouring out; and I was told by friends amongst the throng that the place had been packed . . . for the Archbishop’s Mass for Blessed John Henry Newman.

Given that Newman was an Oratorian – indeed, it was entirely due to him that the Oratory arrived in England in the first place – I have to say I found it odd that there was such a popular preference for Mass at the Cathedral, rather than at the Oratory . . . or am I just being silly, or naïve, or something ?

(Sorry about the quality of the photo; I had only my phone with me, and the light was not wonderful, hence the slightly blurred quality : but I think it is clear that the Feast at the Oratory was as splendid as things there always are.)


  1. The Mass was a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on the first Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman, surely an appropriate Mass for a Bishop to offer in his Cathedral Church. It also coincided with “A Day With Mary” being held at the Cathedral, which guaranteed a packed church. I don't think the Oratorians were at all put out, because the Provost of the London Oratory was one of the priests concelebrating with the Archbishop.

  2. Ah ! I'm not sure that I was either silly or naive, but yes, I do agree that a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Holy Father's visit would be an entirely appropriate thing for the Archbishop to offer on a day; and a Saturday would obviously be a good choice, so I can see the logic of yesterday - as, indeed, I can of the 'Day with Mary'; even if it clearly wasn't exactly 'packed' after the Mass finished, given the hoards who emerged rapidly !
    That said, my comment was really not about the Archbishop, but about those who preferred to go to the Cathedral rather than the Oratory - but then I suppose I'm not exactly enthusiastic about the Cathedral anyway, so perhaps that affected my thinking.

  3. I hope I didn't suggest you were either silly or naive, merely adding a little context. FWIW having been at the Diocesan Mass of Thanksgiving I did later attend the 6pm Mass at the Oratory Church, though by then of course we were anticipating the 28th Sunday.