Saturday, July 26, 2008

WYD Memoirs: Friday 18th July 2008

Bp Meeking catechised us this morning, and very well too, my Lord!

I was privileged to be a torchbearer at his Pontifical Mass, this time on the Gospel side.

(In the image, I am nearest the camera on the left.)

Fr Rowe was deacon of the Mass, and had been exercising himself running over all the minutiae of what he had to do... but his efforts were well-rewarded, all went extremely well, and Fr Terence said afterward that he had not seen such a perfect Pontifical Mass. Deo gratias!

(And for any sour souls who think all this smacks of a mere liking for bells and smells, the external splendour and correctness is meant to be a manifestation of the inner majesty and perfect order of the Sacrifice of the Lamb for our salvation. So there.)

Bp Meeking preached a real stonker of a sermon on the Holy Cross, since the Mass was a Votive thereof: unfortunately, without a transcript to hand I can't do it justice.

After Mass, Mass: Fr Rowe and two other priests again offered simultaneous Low Masses. I served Fr Rowe, and he said Mass of St Camillus de Lellis, a most worthy saint on whom I must blog later. It was very moving to hear Fr Rowe reading the Last Gospel, and to genuflect with him at "And the Word was made flesh", just as first one, then the other priest consecrated and elevated the Sacred Species - truly a marvellous insight into the unity of the Mass, revealed by the Holy Ghost.

We then had some quick lunch, and by car and train raced into town, trying to get to the Cathedral, since His Holiness was to appear there briefly at the First Station of the Cross. (Our tickets were for Barangaroo, but after the crush of yesterday I couldn't bear going there again.) Only Fr Rowe and one other managed to slip past security!

Since we didn't know how or where else to watch the Stations, we gave up - after 4 Masses, I think the Mystery of the Cross had been well-served already - and walked through Hyde Park from the Cathedral perimeter to Starbucks, where, lo and behold! we all met Andrew, my American acquaintance, and also his girlfriend Melissa.

After meeting and greeting, in due course Fr Rowe took us all to St Patrick's, Church Hill, a magnificent church (follow the link and see the splendid interior!), where we attended Exposition of the Bl Sacrament. (I read Sext, and had great delight in praying Psalm 83 before Our Lord in His Sacrament.) Fr had to leave, but Andrew, Melissa and I stayed on for Mass (since they hadn't been to one yet), and then visited the relics of St Peter Chanel and St Marcellin Champagnat in the crypt.

I stayed with my American friends for long enough to finally find some dinner to eat on the run, but then had to farewell that happy couple: I had to catch the bus to Sydney University.

Having reached St John's College at the University, I made it to their glorious Gothic chapel (embellished with several large icons for the occasion), and was able, finally, at the end of this very liturgical day, to attend Russian Catholic Great Vespers ("Imploring Divine Protection for the Natural Environment"), followed by my sixth Mass of the day, the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (commemorating SS Sergius of Radonezh and Athanasius of the Holy Mountain). Archpriest Lawrence Cross - who normally celebrates the Russian Rite in Mebourne - was the celebrant, in the presence of His Excellency John, emeritus Archbishop of the United States, from the Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch.

Truly heavenly: I crossed myself (the Eastern way) so very many times; I made the poklons prescribed (many knelt for the Anaphora, but when in Byzantium, do as the Byzantines do...); the music (all English BTW, but for two of the short Litanies, and the Trisagion in English, Greek, Latin and Slavonic) was uplifting; all was wondrous. It was a pity so few had come to so divine a service. (Fr Rowe was going to, but had to change his plans at the last minute.) The Archpriest preached on St Sisoes of Egypt, one of the Desert Fathers, whose feast it was the next day, and how his icon shews him in horror at finding the tomb of Alexander the Great, and seeing but the poor time-ravaged skeletal remains within - this teaches us the vanity of earthly cares. I normally only receive Communion once a day, but felt I should make a lawful exception, and received the Holy Gifts.

I was delighted to later tell my friend Justin of all this, since he is of Russian Rite, and has Sergius as a patron: he explained to me what I found unusual - Abp John anointing each of us with oil (not sacramentally!) after the Liturgy - for it turns out to be oil blessed at the Polyeleos at Byzantine Matins on feasts, being a holy pun, since Polyeleos means both "[God's] many mercies" and "much oil" in Greek.

Vespers having taken 50 minutes, and the Liturgy an hour and a half, I was glad to travel back to my homestay on buses that permitted me to return by 11pm, finishing my Rosary on the way as I walked the last few blocks.

Six Masses! Deo gratias!

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