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, 2 June 2011

Hail the day that sees Him rise

Today is Ascension Day.

That is to say that I have said the Office for the Ascension of Our Lord and I went to the well attended Extrordinary Form Mass at the Oratory at lunchtime. I shall keep this coming Sunday as the Sunday within the Octave, or if you, prefer, Sunday in Ascensiontide.

The Ascension
Giotto 1266-1337
Capella de Scrovegni, Padua

I accept and respect the right of the Hierarchy to have petitioned for the transfer of the three days of obligation to the Sunday nearest or following, but I prefer to keep all three feasts on their proper day. That shows fidelity to past generations of Christians, and the fidelity that says one does not keep religion for weekends only

There are strong rumours that the Bishops are thinking about returning to the historic days for Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi, and this would be welcome indeed. It is something we can pray and hope for, as well as encourage by appropriate lobbying.

Here in Oxford the traditional practice of beating the bounds was being observed this morning, and moving our observance of the feast is distinctly un-ecumenical and confusing.

Let us hope that we are all celebrating this wonderful feast on its proper day, 40 days after Easter, in 2012.

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