Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Belated Account of a Day in London

There have been many things during the year that I might have written about, but I have been rather debilitated by an illness that was diagnosed in the summer and must have been affecting me for some time before that. Happily, the condition is not life-threatening. The medication is now being reduced, very slowly, as my health improves.

It was last May, during the undiagnosed period, that I made the journey to London, to attend the second one-day conference of the Latin Mass Society. I happily recommend these conferences. If you get a chance to go to the next one, they are very much worth the effort.

It was a good job I had already bought my train tickets, otherwise I don’t think I would have gone. In addition to my reduced state of health, I had had an awful night’s sleep. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the train.

Top marks to the London cabbies, both from Paddington to the venue and back again; they were cheerful, kind and patient with this old woman as she struggled in and out of the taxi with the aid of her walking-stick.

All the talks at the conference were good, even inspiring. If you like, you can settle down with a cup of something and listen to them on this special Latin Mass Society site. The most famous speaker was Bishop Athanasius Schneider, but I commend all of them to you. There was also something about the first speaker, Joseph Pearce, that I found quite endearing: his London accent and his body language, combined with his open-hearted enthusiasm, made me think of him not only as a respected academic but also as a sort of cheerful Cockney geezer. I really liked that: it added charm to his excellent talk.

After that first talk, I began to struggle increasingly from the lack of sleep. During the penultimate talk I spent much of the time with my head slumped over my knees. At the end of the talk I called it a day, leaving, very reluctantly, without hearing the talk by Fr Michael Mary of the Transalpine Redemptorists of Papa Stronsay. And so I missed a wonderful experience, which for assorted reasons I only remedied a couple of days ago.

Father’s talk was entitled The Traditional Mass and Spirituality: “That we may relate it in another generation” (Ps. 47:14). I have jotted down a couple of prayers from it. The first is an ancient aspiration-prayer, which sounds as if it comes from a psalm, but I don’t know which. It features in various devotions:
“Incline unto my aid, O God; O Lord, make haste to help me.”
And here, the devotion of three Hail Marys, each followed by this aspiration:
“By thy holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy; preserve me this day/this night from mortal sin.”
To sum up Fr Michael Mary’s talk, I can do no better than to quote two phrases he used: The Towers of Devotion, and the riches of the Catholic faith. They are present in abundance in his words.

Picture from the LMS site, via Google Images.

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