splendidly illustrated post by Mulier Fortis (one of whose photos I have borrowed) about yesterday evening’s Solemn High Mass in celebration of the Patronal Festival of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen – the suburban parish of
Fr Tim Finigan.
Well, it really was as good as Mac suggests : indeed even better. There were a good few people who had travelled some distance – several of them clergy – to be present, and I am sure that every one of them went away feeling that they had got a good deal more than they bargained for – in the very best of ways.
For me, apart from hearing my friend fr Lawrence Lew OP preach on Our Lady of the Rosary (and say a lot which was very good indeed – facebook people can read the homily here), what I really got out of it was the ordinariness of it.
Now that may sound as though I’m putting things down. After all, a lot of people went to a lot of trouble to make sure that it wasn’t ordinary; and as Mac makes clear, in one sense it definitely wasn’t.
What I’m getting at is the fact that Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, is in one way an ordinary Catholic church, in an ordinary suburban parish, full of ordinary people . . . and yet it managed to offer God such an amazing Mass, full of love, and splendour, and devotion, and holiness . . . it did so last evening, and in fact it does so constantly, Sunday by Sunday, day by day.
I spend much of my time (religiously speaking, that is) at the London Oratory; and although many of those who go there are entirely ordinary, the fact is that it’s quite clearly not an ‘ordinary’ Church; the building is amazing; the music is a long way out of the ordinary; and many of those who worship God there are very far from ordinary too . . . there are many of the famous (and infamous), the titled, the stinking rich . . . so although it’s a wonderfully effective, and exciting, church, in one sense it’s not exactly ordimary – especially to the outsider who just turns up for a special occasion.
Blackfen, on the other hand, is so exactly not like that. It is a smallish building of no great architectural merit, completely (apart from the driveway) surrounded by private semi-detached houses; as far as I know there is no-one in the congregation with a title, or millions in the bank; and yet it manages to be such a lively, welcoming, and active Catholic church . . . and whilst I have no doubt that this is largely due to Fr Tim, it must also be very much due to the people of the parish, who bring themselves, and give their time and their talents (and I suspect their resources) generously to make sure that God’s work goes forward in Blackfen . . . and it so obviously does.
Last Night’s MC, for instance, Patrick, is a young man who has – as one can see from his blog – definite opinions on matters liturgical, with many of which I do not (shall we say) entirely agree : but whatever they may be they he largely suppressed them last evening in the interest of ensuring the worship of Almighty God with the dignified celebration of a splendid Solemn High Mass with every circumstance of liturgical splendour in an ordinary sanctuary of no exceptional size . . . an aim which was amply achieved.
This is my point : that Blackfen (and I am sure many another parish) simply gets on with preaching and teaching the Faith, and promoting it to the people around it, as an ordinary thing which will eventually bring them to the Kingdom of Heaven . . . and last night gave us all, for a little time, a wonderful foretaste of that : so on behalf of all the visitors who were there I say to Fr Tim, and to everyone at Blackfen, ‘Thank you for having us, and we look forward to coming back soon. Meanwhile, may God bless you all, and Our Blessed Lady keep you safely under her mantle’.