Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.
I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.
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I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
I observed the Triduum largely at St Gregory and St Augustine Oxford, athough I did attend, as regular readers will recall, Tenebrae at Blackfriars on Thursday and Saturday, and also Stations of the Cross at the Oratory on Good Friday evening.
Along with other friends I was asked to assist with the serving due to illness and the absence of other regulars at SS Gregory and Augustine. I was happy to do so, both to help the parish and as it was the first occasion since I became a Catholic that I would have the privilege of serving the Triduum.
Not only was it a privilege, but an enjoyable one. Admittedly not everyone's idea of enjoyment is the same, but for me Christmas and Easter would not be the same at church without being called upon to clean brass and silver in preparation, and there was quite a bit of that to do on Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday. More importantly it was enjoyable because the parish community was welcoming, appreciating help from friends, and because it was a properly serious celebration of the sacramental life of the Churchat this season.
On Sunday morning I was back at the Oratory for the 11am Solemn Mass, which was as splendid as ever, and rounded off, as is our custom, with the choir' s performance of the Hallelujah Chorus. In the evening they were back to sing for Solemn Vespers. This was performed with three coped Oratorians and followed by Benediction. A visually splendid way to celebrate, but which went beyond the merely aesthetic, but articulated something of the great truths of Easter.