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.
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
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 have only once encountered the Neocatechumenate. That was a few years ago when I attended a friend's wedding at St Charles Borromeo Ogle Street in London. As a wedding it was a very happy and joyful occasion, but, as the bridegroom himself said to two of us who are frequenters of the Oxford and London Oratories it was probably not the sort of worship we had experienced before. That was true. My liturgical tastes lie elsewhere. The bride and groom, and most ot the congregation (but not me and a few others) dancing a two-step round the altar at the end of the Nuptial Mass was, well, different.
However one could not but be struck by the sense of commitment and enthusiasm by the regular members of the community to the liturgy as it was celebrated. Such factors have, I am sure, influenced the officials in the Vatican in their decision - I suspect they consider it better to have the movement within the framework of the Church, with the hope - maybe faint - of keeping it online or in line, rather than unregulated.
The Pope has compared the New Movements and their relationship to the Papacy as like that of the early mendicants and the Popes in the early thirteenth century. The historian in me sees these movements as more Franciscan than Dominican in their ethos - so perhaps we had better watch out for new "Spirituals " and "Fraticelli", or another Fra Dolfino...
We have, no doubt, not heard the last on this matter.