“Late have I loved Thee!” – the Feast of the Conversion of Our Holy Father Augustine

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St Augustine washing the feet of Christ. Bernardo Strozzi, 1629

Today is the feast of the Conversion of Our Holy Father Augustine. Being the Octave of Easter, it is not commemorated this year by Holy Mass and the Divine Office, though the feast was recalled in the Martyrology.

Our Holy Father is fondly remembered by Holy Mother Church as a convert. In a sense, we are all converts; at some point, we have decided to turn towards the Face of Christ. Or perhaps some readers are still in the process of that conversion, or have yet to make it. Either way, whenever we do turn towards Him – that is, convert – it is something that we shall continue to do for the rest of our lives. Every day is an opportunity for a deeper conversion of life. Perhaps, even, the closer our minds and hearts are to God, the more we realise our defects and inadequacies. Our conversion will end only with our deaths.

His was not a Pauline conversion, like that last and well-travelled Apostle who was cast off his horse and changed his life overnight – much like Our Holy Father Norbert. In most people’s experience, conversion is something more gradual.

Throughout his life, Augustine was slowly moving towards Christ. Although he was not baptised, he had, from his childhood, been exposed to Christianity by his holy mother, St Monica, herself a Catholic, who would have taught the boy about the Faith, and, of course, supported him with her remarkably efficacious prayers and penances.

Through the study of philosophy, he was able to discern the existence of reason, in particular, the creative reason itself, the Divine Logos, but was unable to come close to it, as his eyes were shrouded from the gift of faith. In this endevour, he had determined that the best way to live as a human person on this journey was in community; indeed, he also studied the history of Christian community life, and was particularly taken with the life of St Anthony. With this in mind, when, after one day of study and debate, he heard a voice calling “tolle lege, tolle lege” – take and read, take and read – and he picked up the writings of that earlier convert St Paul, and was transfixed by the passage which exhorts Christians to abandon the flesh and be clothed with Christ. He knew that God, through Paul, was addressing him directly.

Augustine thought,

“only a God who made himself “tangible”, one of us, was finally a God to whom he could pray, for whom and with whom he could live. This is the way to take with courage and at the same time with humility, open to a permanent purification which each of us always needs.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

And so he sought baptism at the hands of St Ambrose, bishop of Milan, in 387. His mother and his son died soon after.

Back home in Africa, he lived a happy life in a monastery, and dedicated himself to prayer and study in the context of a Christian community of consecrated persons. But Mother Church called him to service as a priest, indeed, a bishop, and so he was ordained; this was difficult for Augustine, who much preferred to live his own life, but he realised that God wanted his talents to be placed at the service of His Bride, His holy people. As a bishop, he continued to live in community – and so was the founder of our Norbertine way of life, the life of the canon regular, or clergy living monastically – and he was a prolific preacher and writer, but one who was able to penetrate the hearts and minds of ordinary people. In this way, he realised, he could grow ever closer to Christ, in ministerial service of His Mystical Body.

Finally, in this last phase of his life, he realised that his initial enthusiasm of conversion was not quite up to the mark. Conversion is not something that happens on the day of our baptism and then we live perfectly as Christians until our death. Far from it! Only Christ himself accomplishes such perfection. Our conversion is something that happens every day; every day we must allow Christ the Lord to wash our feet and so be renewed by Him:

Until the end we need this humility that recognizes that we are sinners journeying along, until the Lord gives us his hand definitively and introduces us into eternal life. It was in this final attitude of humility, lived day after day, that Augustine died.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

St Augustine is a profoundly normal person. A great saint, who had a tremendous intellect, certainly, but he had a keen insight into human nature, and the study of his works and his rule for Religious which we follow as Norbertines reveals his great gifts as a pastor, and as a human person (as he said, “for you I am a bishop, with you, I am a Christian”), and what he can teach us is just as relevant – perhaps more so – today than it was in fourth and fifth century Africa.

We’ll end with two paragraphs from the pen of Our Holy Father himself:

“The whole life of a good Christian is an holy desire. Now what you long for, you do not yet see: howbeit by longing, you are made capable, so that when that has come which you may see, you shall be filled. For just as, if you would fill a bag, and know how great the thing is that shall be given, you stretch the opening of the sack or the skin, or whatever else it be; you know how much you would put in, and see that the bag is narrow; by stretching you make it capable of holding more: so God, by deferring our hope, stretches our desire; by the desiring, stretches the mind; by stretching, makes it more capacious. Let us desire therefore, my brethren, for we shall be filled…

“We have already said, “Empty out that which is to be filled.” With good you are to be filled: pour out the bad. Suppose that God would fill you with honey: if you are full of vinegar, where will you put the honey? That which the vessel bore in it must be poured out: the vessel itself must be cleansed; must be cleansed, albeit with labor, albeit with hard rubbing, that it may become fit for that thing, whatever it be. Let us say honey, say gold, say wine; whatever we say it is, being that which cannot be said, whatever we would fain say, It is called: God. And when we say “God,” what have we said? Is that one syllable the whole of that we look for? So then, whatever we have had power to say is beneath Him: let us stretch ourselves unto Him, that when He shall come, He may fill us. For “we shall be like Him; because we shall see Him as He is.”” (1 Ioan., 4.6)

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Χριστος ανεστη – Christ is risen! Happy Easter to all our readers

All the Brethren in Chelmsford wish our readers a very happy Easter.

Today we would like to offer you some pictures of the Paschal Candle that will be burnt in our chapel during Easter. It was blessed last night during the Sacred Paschal Vigil, which is the supreme and most solemn of Holy Mother Church’s sacred liturgies. In this annual Mass, the Faithful are gathered together in complete darkness, still in mourning for our Blessed Lord, lying dead in the sepulchre – or so we think.

The priest, the alter Christus, assisted by the sacred ministers processes to the head of the assembly and there lights a fire, and blesses it, and from this paschal fire, the candle is blessed and lit, the sign of our Risen Lord in the midst of His children, like, as it were, the pillar of fire in the midst of the Hebrews in the wilderness, and the lamp-stand that cannot be hidden.

During the blessing, the priest writes on the candle itself, using a stylus: he inscribes the Cross, the wood of which the Faithful venerated only the day before as Christ the Lord lay dying upon it for our salvation. He then writes the letters α – alpha – and ω – omega – for Christ, the Son of God, is both the beginning and the end. Finally, he inscribes the number of solar years since the Incarnation. After this, he inserts five grains of incense into Cross on the candle, recalling Christ’s five sacred wounds.

The deacon then holds aloft the candle and sings: “Lumen Christi!” – the Light of Christ! – and processes into the dark church, and again sings on a higher note, “Lumen Christi!”. He moves from the narthex to the sanctuary, and sings the final time on a higher note yet still, “Lumen Christi!” “Deo gratias!” Thanks be to God! The deacon then incenses the candle and by its light, he sings the Easter Proclamation, or Exultet, an ancient poem which tells the story of this blessed night, from the Fall of Man to our Redemption by the God-Man.

This year, Br Stephen, who was ordained to the levitical order by the Bishop of East Anglia in January, was able for the first time to perform this, the diaconal blessing par excellence, and sing the Exultet to the Norbertine tone. This was the first time that the Norbertine Exultet (which includes intercessions for the Pope and Bishop) had been heard in this county for nearly half-a-millennium since our Order was banished from the kingdom by the tyrant Henry VIII. We are very fortunate that we are now able to restore this ancient practice, which once was regularly heard in Essex and throughout England, and it a humbling privilege to be able to unite ourselves in this way ever more closely to our long deceased confères.

By the light of the Paschal Candle, the story of our salvation is told by the reading of sections of the Old Testament – for the Old Testament can only be explained in the light of Christ, as He Himself taught the disciples on the road to Emmaus – after which, as the Old Testament is concluded, the church explodes into light and music, as the priest intones the Gloria in excelsis Deo: Glory to God in the highest. The organ is played, all the bells in the church are rung, the veils torn down a the candles are lit. The desolation of Calvary has now been completed, and the Tomb is empty. Alleluia!

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At the base of the candle is a little superfluous decoration, but also the author’s favorite element. It shows a beehive and several worker bees, which are mentioned in the Easter Proclamation, or Exultet, since the candle is made with beeswax. Traditionally, the beehive is a symbol of the Mystical Body of Christ; each bee has his or her own assigned task, a vocation, as it were, which builds up the hive. Each Christian person has a different function, a different offering to make, each of which is of immeasurable value to our Lord when such offerings are made in union with His Sacrifice. Similarly, the beeswax candle is a symbol of His Sacrifice: the candle is consumed by the flame which enlightens our darkness. Co-incidentally, the beehive was a favourite symbol of St Bernard, who was a contemporary and friend of OHF Norbert.

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The main decorative element on the candle is the cross, the alpha and omega (which here is in the lower case). The cross itself is green, as if it were a living tree, rooted in the omega, and coming to fruition in the alpha; the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. The cross itself is studded with incense grains, which are encased within large brass pins. The date is written around the cross in Arabic numerals, though the artist preferred to use the earliest style of such numerals, as would have been familiar to OHF Norbert (which is why the number 4 looks like an ‘h’!). The characters are written in red to symbolise the Precious Blood.

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At the top of the candle is the arms of the Order of Prémontré, two crossed-crosiers on a field of fleur-de-lis. The author will hazard a blazon of: Azure semé-de-lys Or two crosiers in saltire Or (Answers on a post-card please!). The crest is a decorated cloth-of-gold mitre.

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The Paschal Candle in situ in the chapel. It was decorated by one of the confrères.

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Another visit to Leiston Abbey

A modest outing was made today by several of the confrères to the Premonstratensian Abbey of Leiston in the neighbouring county of Suffolk. They Abbey was founded in the 12th century, and moved to its present location two centuries later, when the ruins of this perpendicular structure were built. In fact, it was still being added to even on the eve of the reformation which closed the Abbey. A visit was also made to Leiston this time last year, an account of which may be read here.

It was, in fact, the author’s second visit to Leiston, the first being made several years ago when he was still an history undergraduate, and east Suffolk perpendicular churches were a particularly fashionable subject in his faculty at the time for some reason. It was a great joy, however, to return to the abbey now that he is a Premonstratensian himself.

Leiston was a small Abbey; the number of confrères hovered around the teens, so not much larger than our Priory of Chelmsford. With ruins, one can often be deceived as to the proportions of the building as it would have been. It was quite clear that the largest parts of the abbey, the church and the refectory, were rather modest in size, and it is very easy to imagine that it had a somewhat homely feel to it, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, only a few hours’ walk from the sea. The church itself was no larger than many of the other local parish churches in large towns (East Anglian churches tend to be rather large, since it was the most densely populated part of the country until the turn of the seventeenth-century). 

Though Leiston is clearly not our nearest pre-reformation foundation – that being Beeleigh Abbey – it is always good for us to maintain our links with our deceased Presmonstratensian confrères, since, surely, they are keeping an eye on us and supporting us with their prayers. One hopes that our modest little foundation will be a source of some joy for those of them in heaven. Prayers were said at the remains of the high altar for our confrères who are still waiting to get there. 

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The sacristy

 

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The sacristy, on the right, was next to the chapter room, centre, over the short wall in the foreground. The tallest structure visible is the remains of the chimney in between the califactory (left) and the refectory.

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Barely anything remains on the inside of the church proper except the south side and the transepts, and the lower walls of the sanctuary (shown), where a new pseudo-altar has been placed in the position of the high altar, in front of a magnificent east window. Building work to an adjacent modern structure prevented more detailed photography here.

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The refectory, seen from above the califactory. On the right is the cloister; in the centre of the photograph, the viewer can see the remains of a red-brick gatehouse added just before the dissolution.

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The sanctuary in the chapel of St Michael in the south aisle. Brother Cantor kindly evacuated the piscina of rubble so that it may again be used.

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The exterior of the east window; one can notice some of the original flint flushwork detail on the exterior walls which very popular in East Anglian perpendicular architecture, both ecclesiastical and civic, and which is still very common in the region, not excluding one of the parish churches run by the Order in the England today.

 

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The 1536 Lincolnshire and Yorkshire Risings and the Norbertines

Yorkshire Catholics, amongst whom the present novice and author likes to number himself, are rightly proud that the infamous rebellion against the despotic royal authority wielded by the Henrican government in the 1530s against the Catholic Religion, commonly called the Pilgrimage of Grace for the Commonwealth, arose in God’s own county, and that her fertile and verdant pastures were consequently watered with the blood of many holy martyrs. Indeed, visitors to York herself today will do well to remember, when one is searching for a parking space in Castlegate car park, to spare a thought for the undoubtedly saintly [in the author’s opinion] Robert Aske, who was exposed in heavy chains from the walls of the Keep that is today called Clifford’s Tower: a most gruesome demise for the humble Yorkshire barrister that became the figurehead of that most godly of risings of the winter of 1536.

Yet the historian must remember, of course, that this Pilgrimage of Grace was, in fact, the culmination of a wider series of rebellions, and must not be confused with the principal subject of our discussion, which is the earlier Lincolnshire Rising of October 1536, for here we find a reasonable degree of Premonstratensian involvement.

Our Order’s first foundation in England, Newhouse (1143, from Licques in the County of Flanders), was to be found in the North Riding of Lindsey, in Lincolnshire. There was a great concentration of Premonstratensian houses in that county until the Reformation. Newhouse also founded our own local Abbey of Beeleigh in 1180, as well as Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire, which will appear again shortly. There were 34 Norbertine houses in England on the eve of the Reformation.

Recent historiography has suggested that many common people were dissatisfied with the religious changes that were taking place in the wake of King Henry’s separation from the Holy See. Though some have suggested that the king himself had no particular interest in ridding the English Church of its Latin language, ceremonial, ritual and religious orders, his many of his state counsellors certainly were, and so they pressed on with the wholesale rejection of all that is good and true that comes with apostasy. So the nobles and the commons of Lincolnshire, roused to such activity by the Vicar of Louth, took arms and marched on Lincoln; they were 20,000 men in number. The king, aware that he could not use the local lords to quash the rebellion, for they sympathised with the cause, dispatched the Duke of Suffolk with an army of 8,000 to march upon Lincoln. At the news of this, many of the noble rebels fled, and the commons remained, and, when the Duke arrived, he offered them an amnesty if they left quietly, some of whom did, though many stayed. The siege, however, was quickly ended when news was received by the Duke that a larger rebellion had arisen in Yorkshire, and so marched north.

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The inauguration of the Pilgrimage of Grace for the Commonwealth, 1536, featuring various religious, and common persons. Note the infamous banner depicting the Five Precious Wounds of Our Lord. An unknown Norbertine is depicted in a biretta and almutium.

One might rightly ask why the Lincolnshire Rising is connected with our Order, and so now we come to the person of Matthew Mackarel o.praem., the Abbot of Barlings and Titular Bishop of Chalcedon (being an auxiliary of the diocese). Barlings was a sizeable abbey just to the east of Lincoln on the Wragby Road, and possessed three parishes in the county, and two more parishes in Norfolk (one of which, Bungay, is now administered by the Benedictine Abbey of Downside, though all traces of its Norbertine past are now thoroughly expunged).

The rebels sought the support of the clergy. At this time, as well as the forced closure of smaller monastic houses, even secular clergy were being investigated by the royal commissioners, purportedly to assess their intellectual capability, but, in reality, to weed out secretly “Popish” clergy. There was a tremendous increase in homeless and destitution, as priests, religious and secular, and monks and nuns were thrown out onto the street. Valuable parochial property (mainly vestments and plate) were seized by the state, and replaced with cheaper items, and parishes were merged. This, even then being the last straw, the rebels put pressure on the clergy to lend their support to the rising, since, “by the suppression of so many religious houses whereby the service of God is not well performed but also the poverty of your [majesty’s] realm be unrelieved [is done] a great hurt to the commonwealth.” [Declaration of the Lincolnshire Commons, 8 October 1536] So integrated were ecclesiastical institutions into the everyday life of normal people, when one half of this symbiotic relationship was damaged, so was the other. The Church, not the State, after all, was the authority that provided education, healthcare and welfare.

The most notable cleric in the area was the auxiliary bishop of the vast diocese of Lincoln, Holy Doctor Mackarel, as he was called, the Abbot of Barlings. A Lancashire man originally (he was professed in Cockersands), he had been the only Englishman (according to record) who had studied abroad (Freiburg), and was created a doctor of divinity by Cambridge University.

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A Premonstratensian Canon of the Early Modern oepoch

The Abbot was clearly against the royal settlement, but, as with most of the clergy in England, he tolerated it, in the hope, perhaps, that things will all get sorted out eventually. After all, Henry VIII was not the first English king to attempt to split from Rome. We cannot judge the personalities at the Reformation in England with the benefit of hindsight: most people would rather live their lives and say their prayers, and were not involved in high politics. But the Abbot was also sensible, and saw the way the wind was blowing. He sold many valuable items from the Abbey, and established a trust fund, to allow the brethren to have an income when their home would inevitably be shut down. Perhaps he was even aware of the rumour that the king intended to start closing larger monasteries, and that Barlings was at the top of the list. Clearly, he was supportive of the rebel’s ultimate cause, but he disagreed with their method, knowing that it would only serve to hasten the inevitable. “It was against the laws of God and man that any religious person should go to any battle and specially against their prince,” he said.

But the rebels, led by the Vicar of Louth (a secular priest) insisted on his involvement. So pressured was he by the rebels to join them, that he was deeply affected by profound melancholia, that he could not offer the Mass. Not only did the rebels want practical aid – they had requested of him, for example, that they could eat meat on Fridays – but they wanted the abbot and canons to actually join the rising, thereby giving their action legitimacy and authority. The insistence of the involvement of religious – already suppressed or no – suggests the importance of this cause of restoration of monastic life in England was the rebels – it was not simply a matter of where the next meal should come from, and who would provide us with material sustenance, thought surely that was a realistic consideration. Compared with the rebels themselves, the monasteries were seen as timid. Surely the rebels, in placing so much pressure – sometimes violently – on the religious, thought that they were acting in their interest; the abbeys simply could not see what was happening, and perhaps they buried their heads in the sand.

When the Abbot finally did relent, he wanted his involvement to be widely publicised, to ensure that assaults on his confreres would cease. He did not, as some dubious accounts have suggested, assumed the pseudonym, “Captain Cobbler”. He would not permit his fellow canons from participating in the rising, except six of the “tallest”, presumably, the younger and most able-bodied men. Those seven canons rode with the rebels to Lincoln in their full habits, bedecked in rochet and fur. Never should it be said that Norbertines do things by halves.

Not only was the holy Abbot responsible for his canons, he also had pastoral care of the people, as a bishop. If the flock of Christ the Good Shepherd were going to do something – even if he disagreed with the manner in which it took place – he had a responsibility to be with them as their pastor. And so too did Norbertine canonesses provide aid; the nearby Priory of Irford donated their horse to the rebels.

Though the Duke of Suffolk allowed most of the rebels to return home in peace, as he was taking leave of Lincoln, he ordered the arrest of the clergy who were present, including those seven Norbertines. It is known that four of them were summarily executed in Lincoln immediately. The Abbot, and another canon (the seventh presumably was allowed to return home), as well as the Vicar of Louth, were sent to London, and although the Abbot was hardly what we might call a ring-leader, he was seen as one of the “great doers of this matter”. His fate was uncertain after his arrest that October. In spite of being indicted for treason, the Earl of Shrewsbury succeeded in convincing the king to commute his sentence to imprisonment, which lasted for three months, until he was charged with “riotous assembly and of compassing and imagining the death of the king,” and executed alongside the Vicar of Louth at Tyburn on 29 March 1537.

Ironically, the involvement of seven men from the Abbey hastened its demise. The king invoked an Act of Attainder when the Abbot died, and requisitioned the Abbey and all its property; Barlings was most cruelly scourged by the royal commissioners. All that remains of the abbey today is a small section of nave wall. The ruined tower collapsed in 1757.

The picture shown at the beginning of this article is an imaginary scene of the start of the Pilgrimage of Grace (or the Yorkshire Rising), painted in 1913. It depicts a Norbertine, in his distinctive biretta and almuce, amongst the other religious, though it is not certain whether any Norbertines were involved directly in this later rising. As is well-known, the Yorkshire Rising was cruelly deceived by the King, who promised to heed their demands, and, given their godly constitution, they agreed to lay down their arms and obey the king, now that he had apparently agreed to undo his mistakes. But, instead, the king had the rebel leaders in Yorkshire (Aske amongst them) seized and charged with treason, and so their blood was spilled for Christ and His Holy Church.

A more detailed description of the Abbot’s involvement can be read at this earlier post on our website: http://norbertinevocations.wordpress.com/2008/03/12/matthew-mackerell/

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Diaconal Ordination of Brother Stephen

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Happy New Year to all our readers! May our Holy Fathers Augustine and Norbert pray for you, that 2014 may be a year of many graces and blessings.

On Sunday 5th January 2014 at our parish church of Our Lady Immaculate, Chelmsford, Br Stephen Morrison O.Praem. was ordained a deacon by the Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia. It was a great honour to receive Bishop Hopes, who knew Br Stephen from his time as Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster, where Br Stephen often met with him during seminary studies at Allen Hall.

Br Stephen will serve as a deacon in our two parishes, as well as at conventual liturgy in the Priory Chapel. The Deacon’s role is one of service and ministry at the Altar, as well as preaching, baptising, and engaging in pastoral work. Please pray for Br Stephen as he begins this important role in preparation for priestly ordination in about a year’s time.

We offer below some photographs of the Mass of Ordination, with many thanks to Mr Joseph Kelly who kindly took them. They can also be found on our facebook page.

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Merry Christmas!

Our Holy Father Norbert and the early saints of the Order adore the Christ Child (from a painting in the chapter house of the abbey of Averbode)

Our Holy Father Norbert and the early saints of the Order adore the Christ Child (from a painting in the chapter house of the abbey of Averbode)

The Prior and community of St Philip’s Priory wish all our benefactors, relatives and friends a happy and holy Christmastide.

Indeed many religious men, both bishops and abbots, had advised him in various ways, one suggesting the eremitic life, another that of an anchorite, still another to take up the lifestyle of the Cistercians. But Norbert, whose work and plans depended on heaven, entrusted his foundation neither to himself nor to others but rather to Him who is the beginning of all things. He pondered these many things in his heart but he and those who wished to live with him had been dedicated since their youth, Norbert ordered that the rule be accepted which the Blessed Augustine had established for his followers. The apostolic life which he had undertaken by his preaching he now hoped to live. He had heard that this way of life was ordained and renewed by this same blessed man after the apostles. By the profession of this rule then, on Christmas Day at Prémontré, one by one they voluntarily enrolled themselves into that city of blessed eternity. –  Vita A, Life of St Norbert

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Recent Events November-December 2013

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“Lift high the Blessed Sacrament above all the errors and miseries of the world”

We were blessed to have the Forty Hours’ Devotion in our house chapel from 14th to 16th November, this great period of solemn exposition is a wonderful opportunity for the canonry and our parishes to increase devotion to our Eucharistic Lord. This great tradition began in Milan in the year 1537, but very quickly spread to Rome promoted by St Philip Neri , St Ignatius of Loyola and was supported by the Holy Father. Initially, the intention may have been to avoid physical and moral calamities, but it took hold of the imagination of the people of Rome and spread from there far and wide. The rubrics for the Roman customs attached to the Forty Hours’ Devotion were issued by Pope Clement VIII in 1592 in the document that has come to be known as the Clementine Instruction, the rubrics for the devotion are intended to create an atmosphere of peace and recollection, it was this that was most remarked upon by the faithful who attended.

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Our house chapel full to bursting!

The solemn Mass of Exposition to open the Forty Hours was well attended by the faithful, and accompanied by Norbertine chant sung by the canons. Rt Rev Hugh Allan o.praem., our prior, preached on the importance of the Blessed Sacrament in the lives of all the faithful and the saints, reminded us that this great gift makes God sacramentally present to us, veiled before our very eyes. More photos can be found here.

As Advent approached we have also been greatly blessed to hear a series of talks by Br Stephen Morrison o.praem. on the theme of ‘Advent and the Liturgy’. Br Stephen gave three talks in our parish of Our Lady Immaculate using the texts of the sacred liturgy to enrich our prayer during this season. It was particularly apposite to emphasise that our Lord who was born as a baby in a stable in Jerusalem, comes to us every day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead. We hope to share the content of Br Stephens talks very soon.

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Diaconal Ordination of Rev Br Paul Vianney Harris SDS. © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

On December 7th Br Stephen and myself were delighted to be invited to attend the diaconal ordination of our friend Br Paul Vianney Harris SDS, in the Salvatorian parish of St Joseph’s in London. Br Paul was ordained by His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols who preached on the spiritual and liturgical importance of the homily, taking inspiration for our Holy Father Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. We were also delighted to sing the litany at this ordination, as we had at his Solemn Profession.

For the feast of St Lucy today, the great virgin martyr of the fourth century mentioned in the Roman canon, we followed the traditional practice of having our conventual Mass lit by candlelight only. St Lucy, whose name means ‘Light’, has many traditions surrounding the celebration of her feast, one of these is that in the darkness of winter we use her feast to remind us of the light who is soon to enter the world.

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Light from light…

 

 

 

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