Friday, 25 April 2008

S. Mark and Varia

Procession in S. Mark's Square
tempera on canvas, by Gentile Bellini, 1496
in the Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Forgive the wanderings here. . .

Today is the Feast of Saint Mark, Apostle and Evangelist and in a couple of hours I will have the privilege of keeping the feast with a Mass in his honour on my favourite weekday for celebrating Mass - Friday. It's the only day when we have a midday Mass and I find it very agreeable. In a recent entry in his excellent blog Liturgical Notes, Father Hunwicke wrote about the value in celebrating Mass at the beginning of the day, preferably before breakfast, and how he hopes this might become the norm for Christians in the future, and I agree with him. But not at present. Since the birth of my second child in 2006 my attendance at 7.30 a.m. Mattins has been, well, fairly non-attendant, and although I have no difficulty in making a physical presence at Mass at 10.00 a.m. on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and 8.00 a.m. on a Sunday, I confess to having great difficulties being 'all there' in another, perhaps more important, sense, even if I'm the celebrant of the Mass. I'm not really a morning person and despite having to be present for Mattins at the College of the Resurrection at 7.00 a.m. each day for three years, no change has occurred. And yet, I live in hope and for the days when the children are older, though I don't think anybody can expect me to celebrate Rorate Masses before dawn in Advent, as is the beautiful custom in parts of southern Germany and elsewhere.

Not for those who like their beauty sleep!
A Rorate Mass in honour of Our Lady
Assumption Grotto, Detroit, Michigan

But I digress. I have S. Mark to celebrate at midday and it's good because as I make my way to church, in cassock, down the busy A666 I meet people in all their busyness and activity and they see me taking time in the middle of the day to go to church. The 12.15 p.m. Friday Mass is also very quiet and provides me with a much-needed opportunity to stop the morning activity and begin, refreshed, the afternoon's. It's a bit like a spiritual siesta, if you like. Well, that's my experience. And on this feast of S. Mark my thoughts turn to S. Mark's, Burnley, now in interregnum, since their Parish Priest, Fr. John Haigh, lost his battle with cancer early last year. It was with great joy that I deaconed for Father Haigh on this day two years ago, on this their Patronal Festival, and recall, with thanksgiving, his support and encouragement for me in the early days of my ministry. Of your charity, please pray for him, his family and for the people and parish of S. Mark's, Burnley.

On a lighter note, I want to catch up on some bookkeeping. At the Bishop of Burnley's Chrism Mass for the Diocese of Blackburn last month, Fr. Edmund Straszak, the Vicar of All Saints, Chorley, asked if I would place a link on AW to his website. Since I no longer have administrator power, perhaps Andrew, in his benevolence, might oblige? Either way, it's worth a mention here. Father Straszak is known to many through his excellent Tufton Tracts, What we do in Church and Why!, a series of six small expositions of basic Catholic practice and belief in matters ritualistic. I have found these invaluable in communicating these truths in Confirmation classes, study groups and the like and are equally as useful for the dyed-in-the-wool Anglo-Catholics as they are for the uninitiated, the ignorant and the downright awkward. Anyway, I digress again. His website is wonderful. There's a video message from Father Straszak (so you can hear and see him move!), and the site also boasts an "interactive prayer area" and a "Paypal button on every page", so that one can support the mission of the parish. There are links to the Church Union, the Shrine of OLW and Forward in Faith, so it's all very sound and very good. Do take a moment.

All Saints, Chorley (consecrated 1957)

Have a happy feast today. I shall return from Mass to enjoy a nice bacon butty, with grateful thanks to S. Mark for relieving me of the Friday abstinence, though I think I'd rather be celebrating in S. Mark's, Venice with some Venetian delicacies!

Fr. Lee Kenyon