There was a time when Paddy Power estimated highly the chances that Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sidney, and a sound man, might have migrated to Westminster. Sadly, the odds seem to have lengthened. But it was no less pleasant to be among those joining him at EF Vespers in that long-time Tridentinist centre, Merton College Chapel. Incidentally, I was glad also to be able personally, and very humbly as an amateur blogger addressing a master craftsman, to congratulate Fr Tim Finigan both on the honour of being selected for an attack by the Tablet, and his triumph over that journal.
Thursday, back in the days before such things became suddenly unfashionable, was often seen as a day of Prayer for Christian Unity. EF Vespers for that day - whether by Divine Providence or Dame Fortune I couldn't say - includes the psalm Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum. And also the anthem of Anglican Catholics Super flumina Babylonis sedimus et flevimus, with its haunting cry "Quomodo cantabimus canticum Domini in terra aliena". A friend murmured to me "Years ago there would have been lots of College Chaplains here". And there would; back in the days when Unity was a sexy idea and a glorious hope, and when the clerisy of Oxford held a large proportion of Catholics, the black-backed gentry would have flocked to celebrate Vespers with a Cardinal Presbyter of the Holy Roman Church.
Who was there? 'Cradle Catholics', I trust, in some numbers. But in the large and predominantly young congregation, there were many I recognised as formerly Anglican Catholics; and many Catholics who are still within the Church of England (including one of our bishops). I felt: this is where we are now; and this is where Ecumenism is now.
Valde bonum erat et non minus iucundum, habitare fratres in unum, et ex cantionibus Sion canticum novum decantare Domino.