Monday, 3 June 2013
First, to Prinknash Abbey, where the Traditional Latin Mass is offered by Father Damian at 3pm on the first Sunday of every month. Beautiful weather for the drive there and back, through the glorious intense greenery of Gloucestershire as spring turns into summer. The road sweeps in great curves round the scarp-face of the Cotswolds, climbing higher and higher. Thick woods rise up on one side. I looked up at the gap among the trees where the famous Gloucestershire cheese-rollers had churned up the grass last Monday. On the other side, the ground falls away steeply, to the different beauty of the great Vale of Gloucester. Beyond that, the Forest of Dean, and even farther away, the hills of Wales. At last, we turn off and plunge in a series of zig-zags through the grounds of the Abbey.
After Mass, to Cheltenham, and the Holy Hour in union with Pope Francis. Plenty of people there. At intervals, Deacon McDonald - top of the range, they are very fortunate to have him - gave uplifting talks, or led us in prayer, or in a hymn. Then he and the servers processed round the aisles, the thurifers immediately preceding him walking backwards, with great care. Benediction, chanted in English, and very well, but it made me a little sad, because I know he chants the Latin Benediction with great skill. However, he must have had his reasons. O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo in English too; but as I recall, we sang all the verses, which was good. Finally, the Salve Regina - in Latin - and the prayer for England. Altogether a moving and very worthwhile experience, enhanced by the knowledge of others sharing that time with us throughout the world.
Picture of Prinknash Abbey from cotswolds.info, via Google Images.