7 October 2009

Holiness

They must have been anxious for weeks; waking up in the night worrying about some detail they might have forgotten. But the Oratory clergy have triumphed, for now Oxford is, although for less than 24 hours, a shrine of the Little Flower. The Oratory received the reliquary of S Therese of Lisieux this evening with enormous panache; rose petals descended as some hefty Sixth Formers carried her in; the organ pealed; we sang a vernacular hymn; then the Oratory clergy sang Solemn Vespers with what I take to be the local propers (proper hymns and all) of S Therese according to the old Breviary; First Vespers, so the booklet proclaimed, of a Double of the Second Class (so the bonus is that we go retro to the usages of Pius XII!). The occasion was really rather unEnglish ... the crowds, the fervour ... but at the heart of it was that very Anglican liturgical style which the Oratories of dear S Philip carry off so well.

I have just reread Mgr Ronnie Knox's translation of the History of a Soul, and I feel in no doubt that the decision to make S Therese a Doctor (Doctrix?) of the Church was inspired. She was such a joy-filled young woman - no Protestant preoccupation with sin - who writes in the most natural (not naive) way imaginable about the science of collaborating with Grace to show the World the Love of Christ.

I am skipping this evening's novus ordo communion service at the Oratory in favour of their EF Sung Mass tomorrow at 8.30 a.m. (after my own 7.30 Mass at S Thomas's). And I pray S Therese to excise my innate malevolence and help me to love God and neighbour in the details of my own life.

2 comments:

Andrew said...

was at Office of Readings and Lauds this morning. The office (English - Divine Office, propers of Therese) was chanted by Sisters of the Work, who were in the sanctuary with the oratorians. In choir stalls in front of the sanctuary were some Carmelite and Benedictine nuns. Though it was 5.45am the church was nearly full. During a low mass immediately afterwards at a side altar we were told that 2.5k visitors had been through in the first twelve hours and that many last night, discouraged by the queues, went home. All the sins of the world are like a drop of water thrown into the furnace of God's love: immediately overwhelmed. A saying of Therese.
May her prayers assist us all on our journey.
+ Andrew

Joshua said...

Isn't it marvellous: she who said, I choose all, has by God been granted her impossible wish: to be a missionary on all continents until the end of time.

On a personal note, the first time I prayed St Thérèse for a favour, I came home to find my then housemate arranging big bunches of roses in my room! Talk about a fast worker...