Sunday, 13 August 2017

Seminarians in the soup

A few weeks ago the story emerged of a group of seminarians who after attending an ordination Mass took themselves off to the pub where they were refused service because the staff thought that men dressed in cassocks could only be part of a stag night celebration which they didn`t want to serve. The pub relented when the truth was discovered and went so far as to name one of their ales after the incident.

I belong to a group of priests who meet for lunch on a monthly basis. In May we chose a new pub. I said to the waitress as the six of us walked in that we were a stag do but clearly that was too ridiculous to be true and no upset occurred. We are a bit old for that kind of thing.

However what struck me as interesting about the story was that if in my day, in the 80`s, a group of seminarians had walked into a pub wearing cassocks their biggest problem would not have been whether the staff would serve them but what would be said to them when they got back to the seminary. Although there was a custom at Ushaw that seminarians from second year up could wear a cassock on a Sunday it was much frowned upon by the staff and I remember my interview for diaconate with the President of Ushaw was mainly devoted to asking why I chose to wear a cassock on a Sunday. I imagine if in the 80`s seminarians had gone for a drink in cassocks it would have been considered a formation issue with dire consequences. So things are more relaxed nowadays it seems. At least I hope so. The English College in Rome was very down on cassocks, apart from a few special occasions, in my experience in the 90`s and I`m not sure things have changed much although I`d like to hear otherwise. 

I have always worn the cassock for Mass in the parish. One of my favourite incidents came while I was a curate in Morpeth. Bishop Ambrose was on visitation and stood at the door greeting parishioners after Mass in his cassock. When I turned up in mine he asked me why I was wearing mine. I said I always did and he replied "How extraordinary!"

So well done to the seminarians. Here`s something else about cassocks.
 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Last Mass at Brinkburn

Brinkburn 2016
The annual Mass at Brinkburn Priory will take place on Saturday 9th September at 12 noon. This will be the twenty-third and last. The choir Antiphon will be singing the Missa L'homme arme' by Guillaume Dufay with the motets Benedicta et venerabilis by Byrd and Parsons Ave Maria. We will also have a Gregorian chant group led by David Edwards.  I`m hoping the Mass will be a Solemn High celebration but am still trying to confirm the sacred ministers. 

Last year after Mass the English Heritage lady in the cabin said she was concerned that we had been using candles and incense as these are not allowed in English Heritage properties for health and safety reasons. I can see this being the case for stately homes with many fabrics about but Brinkburn is made of stone apart from the sedilia. However, I wrote to English Heritage to get clarification but got no response. A week ago I wrote to English Heritage to confirm all was arranged for September 9th. I was told that it was but we must not use candles or incense. It was suggested we use electric candles which is what other people do. I thought this wasn`t allowed for Mass but anyway a Solemn High Mass without incense would be ridiculous so I assumed that was it. However this week English Heritage came back to me and said given the short notice of cancellation they were happy for the Mass to go ahead with incense and candles this time but not in the future. So there we have it after nearly a quarter of a century. I`ll miss Mass at Brinkburn as it is a glorious location. So I`m looking into other venues for the Hexham and Newcastle LMS day out.  We used to have a Mass at St Mary`s cathedral in Newcastle for a few years but have been told this year that that is not to happen. However I have a couple of other irons in the fire!