Friday, 20 June 2008

Local Wanderings.

Induction of new members of the CBS.

The altar before Mass.

Detail of the restored woodwork.

The canopy over the doors.

Main Doors.

The new members.

Anglican Wanderer Anthony.

Side door with stunning bracket hinges.

Some of the linenfold panelling in the Sanctuary.

The Mass.

Last night I went to St Augustine's Church in Pendlebury for a solemn votive Mass for St Alban, first English recorded Saint, whose feast day is today. It was held under the auspices of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, an Anglican society devoted to raising awareness of Christ present on our Altars. Two new members were admitted, Father David Schofield and Sheila from St Cuthbert's, Darwen. Father Roger Parker from St Catherine's, Burnley preached. I was impressed by a number of things, firstly the use of the High Altar, facing the way it was made to face, for the first time I came to this beautiful Church, I was surprised by the use of a nave altar placed on the stone flags, completely out of proportion to the building, dominated by the choir and sanctuary. We then had to walk around the Altar for communion to the High Altar rails, which felt very peculiar. The setting last night was both enchanting and numinous and it would be impossible not to feel that, given the beauty of the (utilised) space.

Secondly, I was impressed by the restoration work done. There is a huge amount more to be started, but the wood panelling had been cleaned up and repainted very well, I thought and the Church had a much more welcoming and lived in feel than when I attended for the first time five years ago, no mean feat in a building of this size. The last thing that impressed me is far more important, and that is the primacy given to Our Lord in the tabernacle. For too long, the Sacrament has been reserved in a poky side chapel, but now takes central place on the altar. I hope that now the nave altar may be removed to stop the Priest turning his back on Our Lord when celebrating the Mass. There is a need for new tabernacle covers, however, placed as it now is in the centre of one of the greatest Victorian Gothic Reredos's in the country, the gold lurex has had its brief but glorious day. Maybe the statue of Our Lady will also be liberated from the corridor and placed towards the back of the Church, near the font, with a devotional candle stand nearby to welcome visitors to this House of God, where Christ is now given the central position He deserves.

I hope that none of this is taken as criticism, but as the musings of one interested in Church layout and liturgy. It was a very enjoyable night and I am immensely pleased that this great Church is still used to the Glory of God. And now you can drive there as well, without knocking the exhaust pipe from your car, as seventy tonnes of grit have been compacted down onto the old, pot holed cobbles.