Monday, July 16, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

A busy day at work (the photocopier in particular caused me no end of grief), a rush home to pack, then off to the airport... the flight was delayed... finally, off to Melbourne, then another wait there before the Sydney plane departed... no lift available, so I took the (very expensive) airport train to Central Station... a confused wander around finally led me to the taxi stand, and (more than twenty dollars later) I soon was deposited at my accommodation, where good converse was had till past midnight.

The fold-out bed my hosts provided proved rather uncomfortable, alas, its surface lying at several different levels (all of which were scarce wider than my shoulders), and the whole affair prone to suddenly tilting upwards if one lay too close to the edge... at least it didn't close upon me like a Venus fly-trap, as it has for other unfortunate visitors in the past!

I slept in, arose, and walked into the CBD, stopping at St Benedict's for a brief visit before going to Confession at St Peter Julian's.  I broke my fast with coffee and a portuguese tart, before stopping at the Pauline Books for to buy Aidan Nichols' latest offering and an ESV "with Apocrypha" - since the latter will be used to produce the new OF Lectionary in due course (my friend Fr Paul tells me he already prepares his sermons using this translation, as his own comparison of it with the Greek suggests it to be more accurate than the Jerusalem Bible used in the present Lectionary).

Then it was time to lunch on oysters kilpatrick; and soon enough spent an hour at another venue reading The Australian (love that paper! down with Julia!), further buoyed up with coffee, macarons and chocolates.  I spare readers any more minute recounting of my day in Sydney, other than to say I walked back to my homestay and waited there for an old friend who happened to also be coming to town, so that we could go have dinner and catch up: eventually, we did (he had driven up from Melbourne the same day, and en route visited a mutual clerical acquaintance in Bathurst, so I could hardly criticise him for being late).

Yester-day, Sunday, dawned bright and early: my generous host, John (Laura unfortunately absent) cooked us breakfast, then there was just time for a walk by the Harbour before High Mass.  Lewisham was liturgical bliss as usual: Omnes gentes, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, with Mass XI, Credo II (a pleasant minor-sounding one, that), and an all-Gregorian programme, tricked out with excellent use of ison, and a very impressive chanting of the Communion with most of the rest of Psalm 30.  After Mass, it was good to catch up with many old friends.

How good and pleasant it is to be of one mind and heart!  We lunched in Chinatown on yum cha, then had some afternoon tea at the Caffe Sicilia in Surry Hills, finishing just in time to reach the Cathedral for OF Vespers and Benediction.  It was excellently done, though it seems to me that exposing the Blessed Sacrament during the Office Hymn was a false step - especially as it meant the choir was standing coram Sanctissimo, whereas the singing of O salutaris Hostia after the end of Vespers was surely the time to bring forward the Monstance.  Still, one cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The Hour was chanted strongly and well, all in the proper Gregorian chant, save the short reading (chanted in English), the intercessions (said in English) and the Lord's Prayer and Collect (sung in English).  The Magnificat was sung in chant alternating with polyphony by Suriano - strangely, the celebrant himself censed not only the altar but the choir and congregation, before he was censed by the server!  (Surely when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, only It is censed, and nothing else?)  Vespers ended, the choir sang Tallis' motet Salvator mundi, before O salutaris, the Prayer for Christian Unity always said at Benediction in Australia (in English of course), Tantum ergo &c., Benediction itself, the Divine Praises (sung in English), Adoremus with Ps 116 (all chanted in Latin) while the Prisoner was returned to His Tabernacle (!) and then the simple Salve to conclude.  Wonderful.

I met another friend after that for some beer, charcuterie and seafood, before I headed back to my base for an early night after, be it said, much liturgy, conversation, food, drink and laughter.  A good day of rest.

This morning, I farewelled my friends, and dragged my bag to the next parish, where I met up with a Dominican friend: he kindly took me to the airport, but first I served his private Mass (OF, new translation, ad orientem, Roman Canon, kneeling communion - just the way it should be done) at St Benedict's, at Our Lady's altar, to-day being the feast of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel.

Now, I am at Tullamarine en route back home; but have just heard of the death from cancer of the mother of another old friend, Fr Christopher.  I visited him, then still a deacon, and his parents when last in New Zealand: of your charity, please pray for her and for her husband and family in their grief.  Media vita in morte sumus.

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