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.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Forty Hours at the Oxford Oratory

Over the weekend we had the Forty Hours Devotion here at the Oxford Oratory.
On Friday evening the opening Mass was in the Extraordinary Form, and remarked upon by many for its beauty and reverence.

Here are two pictures from amongst those posted on the Oxford Oratory website:

Canon Missae:


Night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament:


The chap on the left with thinning hair and a college scarf has a worrying habit of getting into photographs these days.

I counted ( why does one on these occasions, but one does) ninety nine candles and lights before the Blessed Sacrament, and it you add in the Sanctuary lamp, there were therefore a hundred flames burning in Its honour.

The effect is always magical, but that may be a word that could be misconstrued, as could theatrical - but this was true magic, true theatre. The sensation is of standing on the threshold of Heaven, however poor a copy of that reality this or any other particular church may be.

I spent the night vigil at St Aloysius, sustained by coffee and sandwiches in the social centre, and finished the night with 5am Mattins and Lauds and 6am Mass, again in the Extraordinary Form. Then it was home to prepare for the LMS Pilgrimage. As a result of that and other things I had to doI did not manage to get back to the Oratory on Saturday.

On Sunday there was the Mass of the Sacred Heart at the 11am Mass, and the resumption of Exposition, and the devotion closed with Solemn Vespers in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament Exposed, Procession and Benediction. I am very keen on processions and find them quite moving as a participant. It is always splendid on these occasions to see the congregation circling the church interior following the Blessed Sacrament - with the clergy procession returning to the Sanctuary down the central aisle it must look from above rather like a human rosary.

As always the Forty Hours was a splendid and prayerful spiritual event, and a devotion to be encouraged in other churches.

No comments: