Sunday, 14 June 2009

Corpus Christi at Saint Hilda's Prestwich.

The High Mass this morning for Corpus Christi was well attended and had an air of continental festivity brought on by the jostling for space in the pews, the balmy weather and the heady promise of tea and coffee afterwards in the newly restored community room. Never mind the fact that the bright sunlight makes the newish oil stocks on the pavement candlesticks look like the central part of the TARDIS control deck in the dull Davidson days, they do not go up and down or whir, even when the Church is lifted to the courts of heaven during the Sanctus.

It was, of course, my last Sunday as well, and I walked those familiar steps and mosaics with practised ease, careful devotion and a sense of not really wanting it to end, but the Church meets the world and the drive to Preston on Monday morning will be the next step for this small, insignificant man as he steps onto a wheel which has turned for two thousand years, until my time be up. But ah, what a happy way to begin the journey, surrounded by friends and supported by my colleagues.

It has been a happy seven years at Saint Hilda's and I am glad that so many of you have been interested enough to follow my journey on this blog. I look forward to taking you on to another place, which will be as full of interest, architecture and grace as this last place has been.

After sharing in the continual privilege of communicating the members of Christ's body with His body, blood, soul and divinity, we began the service of Benediction at the altar, singing the Pange Lingua.

After which, preceded by two thuribles belting out great clouds of incense and taperers, we began a procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the Church. Liturgists will note that we forgot to remove our maniples, but it was a busy and moving day, so I hope we may be forgiven.

After processing around the Church, full of devotion and love, we returned to the Altar.

Where Benediction was offered. After the Divine Praises were said and devotions were sung, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the house made for Him and we prepared to leave. However, I was very touched that a little presentation was made to me and a few people said some very kind words.

This dreadful picture shows your scribe presenting a statue of Saint George to the Church. As I was born on Saint George's day and I am going to serve at Saint George's, it seemed fitting. He looks very fetching on a windowsill by the Lady Chapel.

This is the rose dalmatic, maniple and stole which the Church bought for me. It comes from Luzar Vestments and is very fine indeed. I made a short speech alluding to the practice in Pagan times of selecting a young man from a city when times were hard and crops were failing, looking after him for a year and then dressing him in fine clothes before chasing him out of the city and stoning him as a sacrifice to the gods. Happily though I have been looked after, given fine clothes, walked out happily and not been stoned. Yet.

And imagine my surprise on leaving and being taken for lunch to find my friend Fr Bryan Hackett, vicar of Saint Mary's Prestwich, looking refreshed from his holidays in the pub with his parents. He gets an honorary mention today.