Saturday, July 26, 2008

WYD Memoirs: Thursday 17th July 2008

This morning Daniel and I bussed in to Balmain, rather than walking the last section.

His Lordship Bishop Elliott, titular Bishop of Manaccenser (aka Many Censers), gave an excellent, and quite witty address to us for our catechesis this morning. I particularly liked his words critical of one of the hymns at Pell's Tuesday Mass, his repudiation of the local Low Church Anglicans, and his jokes about his own pet cat! Having been taught theology by him when I studied at the JPII Institute, it was a very happy event to be listening to and learning from him again.

He dealt well with two questions: one about whether to avoid the Novus Ordo and only attend the Old Rite (short answer: don't be so scrupulous, a valid Mass is a valid Mass), and one about how to come at the Old when it is a new experience (answer: simply let its marvels and mystery wash over you).

There was enough time at the end to take up one of the good Bishop's suggestions, and make my Confession to a kindly French priest, who reminded me that God in Christ has loved us so much, and so we must in our own limited way show charity and love to others.

Because the bishops had to head off early to be in place for the Pope's arrival, Mass began 15 minutes early, at 10.45am - to the chagrin of the French, who hadn't been told. (Unfortunately, apart from the liturgical side, some of the Juventutem experience did seem a bit disorganized.)

Of course, Bp Elliott sang a beaut Pontifical Mass, as would be expected of a published liturgical and rubrical expert. The Mass was a Votive of the Holy Ghost.

After that, three Low Masses at once! I served Fr Rowe's - he said Mass of St Alexis, Confessor - and, as he started and finished first, I slipt back in and knelt to hear the end of the other two Masses. To see six elevations was sublime.

Fr Rowe and Aaron had secured one of those curious lunchboxes, so I ate quickly chocolates, tuna, cold baked beans and so forth in no particular order, then we piled into Fr's car (lent him by a friend) and headed off to Lewisham station, where we abandoned the car and caught the train in to Circular Quay.

Walking from C.Q. to Barangaroo was astonishing - I have NEVER seen such a press of people, and the nearer we came to our assigned spot the greater grew the crowds! Fr Rowe led us right to the front in section F, about half-a-dozen bodies from the barriers. We saw the Pope! It was amazing to see Benedict XVI in the flesh; he was so close I could see him on the dais with my own eyes, even without the binoculars I'd bought earlier. Truly inspiring!

Again I missed out on the pilgrim evening meal, because Fr Rowe then walked me all the way to the Opera House through great crowds, setting a cracking pace. Once there, he quickly got his priestly accreditation pass, and then we marched back to C.Q., caught the train to Town Hall, and headed over to the Vocations Expo at Darling Harbour. I met up with many old friends there, including my friends in the Dominicans, Br Paul and Rev Br Mannes.

By this stage, I was very hungry and thirsty.

Fr Rowe next led me to Central station, which was flooded, literally, with pilgrims, meeting Fr Casey, a friend of his, on the way, and we caught the train to Strathfield, where - thanks be - our mutual friend Fr Richard took us to a nice Chinese restaurant in Homebush for dinner. It was good to have a real meal after so much walking with no sustenance!

Afterward, we drove by the nearby Good Shepherd Seminary, and then made a visit at St Dominic's, Flemington, parish church of the redoubtable Fr Robbie, where we found Adoration in progress. The trains whizzing past outside were packed with pilgrims, and it was after 10.30pm!

So today I heard 4 Masses, again.

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