I spent Saturday morning singing in a Mass in Oxfordshire (I hope to post some videos soon) so I couldn't make the LMS Confirmations but I am delighted to see photos of this event, and the Sons' participation, on a number of blogs. The one above is from The Ecumenical Diablog.
I managed to catch up with them afterwards, and with various other people we had an extended tea and dinner round the corner in an Italian Cafe.
This was the first time I have met members of the community and I was able to have a chat with them on a wide range of subjects. They are the most interesting group of men, from all over the world, and despite the very difficult time they have had since reconciling with the Holy See they have lost neither their zeal nor their sense of humour. I'm not sure which is the greater acheivement!
Fr Anthony Mary F.SS.R saying his private Mass after the Confirmations, in St James', Spanish Place.
Their order is a reformed, traditional Redemptorist order. I don't know much about Redemptorists but Fr Anthony Mary (on the left, above) explained the Redemptorist apostolate in more detail to me. Apart from ministering to the parish where they are based, their approach is to avoid taking on parishes, and concentrate on retreats and, above all, parish missions. This makes them very different from the Benedictines - you have to go the Benedictines, but the Redemptorists come to you.
The typical way this works is a week-long mission, Sunday to Sunday. One of them would preach at all the Masses one Sunday, and have a series of evening talks during the week, and preach again at the Masses on the following Sunday. The emphasis is on getting people back to confession. I have come across a sort of folk memory of parish missions with fire-breathing Redemptorists in the 'old days', and the question is whether this format can still work: will people come to parish events on weekday evenings, for example? Fr Anthony told me that pastors have invariably been amazed at the response - far more people making the effort to get to as much of the mission as possible than they had expected, long queues for the confessional, and a renewal of parish life for the parish priest to build on from then on.
As Fr Anthony said, it is impossible for a parish priest to give a powerful sermon every Sunday - neither he nor the parishioners would be able to keep it up. The opportunity exists, however, when someone comes into the parish to do exactly that, and this is a resource of which parish priests could once avail themselves. And they will be able to do so again.
The ordination of members of the community has been delayed while their canonical status has been sorted out, but two men have completed their studies and a third in his final year. Once they are ordained the community will once more have the manpower to send priests into the mission field. This could be a huge shot in the arm for the increasing number of parishes where the priest is sympathetic to the Traditional Mass, and perhaps even has one on a Sunday, but is faced by the reality that the great majority of Mass-goers have not been properly catechised or prepared for their own confirmations and marriages. The parishes in this country, and not only here of course, could really do with the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.
In the meantime, please support them! They publish an excellent quarterly newspaper, The Catholic, and are now selling a wall calendar with charming pictures not only of the liturgy of the Sons at work in the monastery. Naturally, you should buy the LMS wall calendar as well! See their blog for details.