Saturday, November 19, 2016

Birthday, Confession and First Communion

Again my birthday has rolled around, my forty-second; I seem to recall that "42" was alleged in a sci-fi novel to be 'the answer' to life, the universe and everything, which raised the issue of what the question was in the first place! 

Today being Saturday, I had a nice sleep-in after a pleasant eve-of-birthday dinner with family at the local Chinese restaurant last night; then it was off to Confession at Apostles as is my weekly custom… I had hoped to be early enough to be first in line (I believe strongly in being as quick and to the point as possible when confessing), and arrived just before the priest at 10 am, but as it was I was fourth, and didn't get out of the box till twenty past. At least I had time to say Mattins and pray a little more whilst waiting.

Then I had to drive as fast as lawfully allowed to Glengarry, where (at the little country church of St Canice – "in-the-fields", as Fr Allan used to say) I was expected to sing at a special Missa cantata for the First Communion of the daughter of some friends of mine. I was also bringing the Mass booklets for the congregation, the music for the rest of the choir, the altar cards and the altar missal! 

Luckily, after I arrived, I found that Mass wasn't going to start strictly on time after all, so I could relax. However, I did have a near-miss: for when rushing to put the altar cards in place, I leaned the central card against the crucifix as usual, only to have the crucifix fall backwards against the stained-glass window behind the altar, somehow avoiding breaking it, but bending the crucifix (though Fr Suresh was able to bend it back into shape).

The Mass – of St Elizabeth of Hungary, with commemoration of Pope St Pontian – was beautiful: beforehand, we sang Veni Creator Spiritus; we psalm-toned the Propers, chanted the Messe Royale for the Ordinary, and during the Offertory sang Jesu dulcis memoria, after Communion, Ave verum, during the Last Gospel, the simple Salve, and for a recessional, Faber's devout hymn, "Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all". It was good to sing with the choir, since the 2nd M.C. had come up from Hobart, so I didn't have to serve as I usually do. Fr Suresh preached a special sermon about the Blessed Eucharist, especially for our first communicant. Afterward, in the adjoining church hall, we had a delightful celebration.

Of your charity, please pray for Peter, the father of an old friend I met at the First Communion party: I was shocked to learn that he is very ill with cancer.

I drove home along some of the quiet country roads in the district, through patches of bushland interspersed with farmland. Family members had given me a bottle of gin for my birthday, so I had a G&T once I got back, to celebrate. Then, it was time for some gardening, before heading off to the parish Vigil Mass of Christ the King (I sang with the choir, and read the first reading). Somewhat oddly, I then had Mexican for tea. All in all, a happy birthday.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Back from Christus Rex

Once again, I've walked as part of the Christus Rex Pilgrimage from Ballarat to Bendigo – this was my eighth. This year, the main trial was a plague of mosquitoes, particularly on the last day; I've never known mosquitoes like it. But of course the holy pilgrimage itself found its culmination and raison d'être in the solemn celebration of the traditional form of the Mass: a pre-pilgrimage Requiem High Mass on the Thursday evening at Ballarat Cathedral; the morning Votive High Mass of the Holy Cross, with commemoration of SS Simon and Jude, Apostles, early on the Friday morning; the beautiful midday Mass of Our Lady on Saturday; the afternoon Pontifical High Mass of Christ the King; and the Monday morning High Mass, this year of the Vigil of All Saints. In addition, as usual, I assisted my former parish priest, Fr Rowe, by serving his Low Mass on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday; this meant I missed a bit of each day's walk, which wasn't so bad! The camaraderie of the pilgrimage was itself a great blessing, as it affords me the chance to catch up with old friends I rarely see these days. I have already booked my accommodation for next year. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!