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.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Last night I got to the last of three talks delivered at the Oratory here on the subject of Confession by Fr Joseph Welch, one of the Oxford Oratorians. Due to other meetings I had been unable to attend the two previous sessions, but going to this one was certainly very well worth while.

The burden of the talk dealt with such practical matters as distingushing categories of mortal and venial sins, avoiding occasions of sin and the frequency of making a confession. Not only was the talk lucid and cogent, but it reflected in an excellent manner the Oratorian tradition of concern for individual souls.

The other thing which impressed was the attendance. The parish centre was full, with a wide range of ages represented. At the Oratory the sacrament of reconciliation is available before all Masses, so it is not difficult to make one's confession here, but here was an evident wish to know more about the sacrament and its place in the individual's spiritual journey. At a time when many churches offer the opportunity to confess on a much more limited scale and when it is sometimes claimed or presented that there is little interest in using the sacrament, the numbers present would suggest a willingness to avail themselves of it which is very positive.

Very suitable for Septuagesima and preparing for Lent - or any other time of the year.

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