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, 10 March 2011

Ash Wednesday

I served as thurifer at the Extraordinary Form Mass at SS Gregory and Augustine yesterday evening - indeed I seem to be regularly wielding the thurible there on such occasions these days.

The congregation was drawn not just from the regular aficionados of the usus antiquior and members of the new Juventutum group but also local parishioners, which is a good sign of the growing reception of this form of the rite.

What is clear is the enthusiasm of many younger Catholics for the traditional forms of worship. Oxford, of course, may not be typical, but it is not only here that there is such a response.

I know myself that I have increasingly felt drawn more and more to the usus antiquior, not just because it is the historic form, but because it seems more prayerful, more able to draw one heavenwards. With the Oratory being here in the city I feel rather spoiled as there the novus ordo is celebrated in a style that utilises the practice of centuries in the service of the newer form of the rite, as well as celebrations from the missal of John XXIII.

Looking back over Septuagesima, or what was once Septuagesima, I regret its disappearance from the Ordinary Form, and looking through a pre-1955 Missal I am more inclined to share in voicing the opinion not only that the usus antiquior is, for me, the preferred form, but that the debate about that has to include looking to a recovery of t least some those things lost in the years after 1955 when the process of attrition began. That is not to deny the right of a living tradition to develop, but, being a living tradition involves the retention of the constituent elements, not their piecemeal erosion

1 comment:

Stephanie A. Mann said...

I agree with you, John--as my husband and I have attended the EFLR the past two years almost every Sunday, we have gained from its reverence and silence. The pre-Lenten period of Septuagesima was very effective.