Today I decided that I would concelebrate the Funeral Mass of Fr Michael Melrose, Vicar of S Giles, Reading. My reasons were: the Mass was presided over by our Bishop, Andrew, Bishop of Ebbsfleet. It seemed appropriate to join with Bishop and sympresbyteroi in the eucharistic Farewell to a departed sympresbyteros, a fellow member both of the presbyterate of the Universal Church and of the presbyterate of the Ebbsfleet Apostolic District.
Readers will be aware that I am less than enthusiastic about the post-conciliar fad for incessant concelebration, accompanied as it is by a disuse of the priest's own daily Mass. The two factors that influenced me today were: the episcopal presidency; and the koinonia in sympresbyterality which, with my fellow presbyters, I shared with Fr Michael, in and through our joint corporate membership of Bishop Andrew's Presbyterium (I had, incidentally, already said Mass in S Thomas's).
And it wasn't just theologically right; it felt right. It was a last expression of collegiality - no, drop theology, friendship, with a dear friend, a learned priest, a caring pastor. Fr Michael represented all that is best about Anglican Catholicism: its commitment, its erudition, its love of God in the glory of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in the guardianship of our blessed Lady. We are no mean people; the Church of England may be anxious to exterminate and humiliate us; the English Roman Catholic hierarchy may be suspicious of us; but we are the friends of Laud and Kenn, of Pusey and Keble; of Walke and Wason. God has been good to us; we have treasures which no other corner of Christendom possesses; whatever God wills for us now, his splendour has been seen and loved among us. May Fr Michael rest in peace and glory; may he pray.