Monday, August 16, 2010

Downside: liturgies

I arrived at the conference with Bishop Schneider (who I drove there from Heathrow) on the Wednesday, and was able to assist at his private Mass.
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The altar he used was, at an early stage of the construction of the Abbey Church, actually the High Altar; the raised sepulcre on the epistle side is the tomb of St Oliver Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh, one of the last Catholics martyred in England, as a result of the Titus Oates plot.
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The next day he celebrated Pontifical Mass at the faldstool, with the assistance of many of the priest tutors at the conference; this was a really stunning Mass, in the wonderful and appropriate setting of Downside Abbey Church, which is a Minor Basilica.
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It was well attended, especially in light of the fact that it was on a weekday in a quite remote part of England.

The conference also included Lauds in the morning, and either Vespers or Compline in the evening; we had Benediction after the Vespers. To avoid disrupting the monastic routine, we had these in the 'Old Chapel' and not the Abbey Church.
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In the early mornings, the pre-dawn gloom of the Abbey Church is pierced by the glow from the beautiful side chapels where Mass is being celebrated, by priest tutors and trainees alike. Despite the large number of altars, this had to be arranged with different time-slots to fit everyone in.
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On the Friday morning, Bishop Schneider celebrated his private Mass in the lovely Lady Chapel.
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See the full Flickr set here; see a slide show!

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