I more or less managed to fulfill my plan to combine celebrating Oakapple Day, the 350th anniversary of the Restoration, with attending the CIEL Conference last Saturday at the London Oratory.
I say more or less because, partly through my own fault, and partly the slowness of getting out of Oxford on the coach on a bank holiday Saturday I was too late to attend the Mass at the Oratory. This was particularly disappointing as it was a celebration of the Ember Saturday liturgy - there is some background here - with all five readings before the Epistle and Gospel, which I had not attended on any previous occasion.
However I did manage to meet up with a number of old friends and catch up on news, before making my way in the way one does to the "Bunch of Grapes" and a pub lunch, washed down with an appropriately named pint of "Royal London" to celebrate the Restoration.
Back at the Oratory there was time to visit several of the altars and spend some time in this splendid building before the afternoon conference. There were two speakers in St Wilfrid's Hall. The first was the distinguished composer James Macmillan. He spoke about his own approach to composing ecclesiastical music, and the factors which influenced him. This, I think, could be summarised as a liturgically and spiritually holistic approach, and he cited the writings of the then Cardinal Ratzinger as being central to what he saw as the direction liturgical music should take. He also drew attention to the way in which much of the public discussion of these matters was ill-informed and failed to engage with the actual issues.
The second speaker was Fr Richard Duffield, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Actor for Newman's cause. He spoke about the history of the Cardinal's cause, and why it has taken so long to lead to the impending beatification. He also about some of the planning that was going into the Mass at Coventry on September 19th, and how that was evolving through discussion with the various groups involved in its organisation.
The afternoon closed with Benediction in the Little Oratory and a reception in St Wilfrid's Hall - again a chance to catch up wih friends. The CIEL Conference is always a good occasion and I would urge anyone interested to go to these occasions in the future.
I then went off on the tube to meet another very good friend, rounding off the day with supper in a Lebanese restaurant near Baker Street. This turned out to be a couple of doors away from a public house called "Pontefract Castle" - one of two in London. This seemed very appropriate on Oakapple Day given the loyal defence of the real castle in my home town in 1649 on behalf of both King Charles I and King Charles II.