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, 19 February 2015

Observing Ash Wednesday in Oxford

I began Lent yesterday by attending two Masses for Ash Wednesday.

The first was a Low Mass, at 12.15, offered in the Extraordinary Form at the Oxford Oratory, with a very sizeable congregation. This was approaching in numbers those for the 11am Sunday novus ordo Mass. If many were regular attenders at EF Masses there were also many others for whom this was a convenient time to attend, and suggests that many who do not regularly attend the usus antiquior are perfectly happy to do so when it is the one they wish to attend - that is, they, ordinary Catholics, are not people who resolutely refuse to attend the EF as some seek to suggest. I saw some friends at this Mass who travel something well over a hundred miles round trip Sunday by Sunday to attend the 11am novus ordo Mass.

I understand from one of my students that the 10am Ordinary Form Mass drew a large congregation as well.

After my two small collations with a friend during the afternoon and other errands, I returned to the Oratory for the 6pm Solemn Mass celebrated in Latin in the novus ordo. This drew a very large congregation - as many, if not more than, at the Sunday 11 Mass. 

In the evening I saw my companion of the afternoon who had gone to the Sung EF Mass at SS Gregory and Augustine, which had again drawn good support.

Numbers are not the be-all and end-all of parish life, but they do suggest on the evidence of yesterday that Catholics in Oxford take Lent seriously and do attend church to mark its commencement.

The Oxford Oratory 's services and devotions  over the coming weeks can be seen at Lent and Holy Week 2015 Leaflet

1 comment:

Zephyrinus said...

Your Readers may be interested in next week's programme on BBC4, Thursday, 26 February, 2100 hrs, about The Friars of Oxford.

The item is contained in BBC4's "Saints and Sinners: Britain's Millennium of Monasteries", Episode 2. A trailer for which can be viewed on BBC4's i-Player now at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02k46d1