A wonderful Solemn Mass yesterday at St James's.
The Rector, Fr Colven, preached powerfully on the Gospel of the day, asking us to think about whether each of us was doing enough, whether we were bringing forth grapes from the vineyard as required.
The Church will survive until the end of time, that is assured, but there is no guarantee that any particular part of it will. He reminded us that little or nothing remains of the glorious flowering of the Church in North Africa in the time of St Augustine of Hippo, who was alive at a time when there were around 700 bishops in the region, and another one was being ordained to the episcopate each week. All that is now gone. One could equally reflect on the reduced presence in Antioch or even Constantinople, and in his blogpost on the same readings, Fr Ray Blake reminds us that Rome herself has had some desolate periods.
Fr Colven cited the idea that an important measure of how we are doing is the converts who decide to join us. This is not a reference to people coming into the full communion of the Catholic Church from other Christian traditions through RCIA or the Ordinariate, as exciting as such moves are, but it is a reference to whether we manage to convince those who have no interest in God at all that the Church and our part in it are manifestations of God's work upon earth.
A timely reminder to all of us that we need to be outward looking, and that we must bear witness to the Faith by our actions, as well as by our private prayers and our Sunday activities. We must inspire others to take an interest in the Faith, and through that process, to come into the Church. May St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, the Patroness of the Missions of the Catholic Church, intercede for us as each of us tries to contribute to this aim.
We were delighted to see Fr Len Black from the Inverness Ordinariate Group as Concelebrant at Mass yesterday at St James's. Fr Colven introduced Fr Black as an Ordinariate priest as Mass began, thereby continuing his sterling work of raising awareness of the Ordinariate. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to catch Fr Black before we left, otherwise today's post would have included a photo, but we hope that he enjoyed his time amongst us.
We also failed to take photos of the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament that went from Westminster Cathedral to St George's Cathedral, Southwark on Saturday. However, we can report that it was very well attended and offered great public witness of the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and of the vibrant presence of the Catholic Church in this country. We are happy to note that the Ordinariate was well represented - as reported elswhere by the Ordinariate Portal in a Facebook update, Ordinariate members now feel inspired to look into buying some banners for future processions.
The music at Mass on Sunday was also excellent. The choir sang the powerful setting of O Sacrum Convivium by Olivier Messaien as the Communion motet. Messaien was a devoted Catholic, but his organ and choral works have also become very popular and well-established in the Church of England, and so, in spite of the piece being in many ways an archetype of Catholic music, it was utterly familiar even to us new members of the Church.