Yesterday evening, as I was strolling up and down the King's Road in Chelsea looking for a bit of Night Life - we old gentleman tend to do that sort of thing - I noticed the familiar figure of Fr James 'Ubiquitous Camera' Bradley, who has chronicled every significant event in the Anglican Catholic world for decades - lugging his equipment along. Curious, I followed him discretely and discovered myself in a Roman Catholic place of worship which I gather was originally (1568) founded at Douai by a fellow of Oriel College, Principal of St Mary's Hall, and Proctor in this University called William Allen, after he very wisely scarpered abroad in the dark days of Elizabeth Tudor. Not that I'm sure Dr Allen would have recognised the Chapel as a place of Catholic worship ...
As you know, I am dreadfully ill-informed about the complex niceties of Novus Ordo worship, so I can't give you an intelligent account of what was going on. However, it seemed to involve our three Bishops, so I guessed it probably had something to do with this ORDINARIATE thinggy. Just in case I ever find myself having to use the Ordinary Form, I watched carefully what happened. There were some striking differences from what most Anglican Catholics are used to. For example: after the Consecration we tend to ring bells and waggle incense. But, it seems, in the Novus Ordo Mass, all the fire alarms go off while the celebrant is actually uttering the verba Domini over the Host; and keep ringing until after the Consecration of the Chalice. They come on later, too, to remind the congregation that it is Communion time.
The episcopae seemed to have a big role to play. They brought up the elements at the Offertory (yes ... I know what you're thinking ... a bit Parish Communionny) and had special blessings and things at the end. From time to time, the bishops seemed to kiss them. The service began with the sort of music you get in a Crem - Jesu joy or Come down O love Divine or something like that. It ended with the sort of business you get at weddings, with various fluctuating groups of people coalescing and dispersing and regathering for photographs. Altogether, a rich liturgical event. I felt most at home in the sung Ordinary of the Mass, Kyries etc., which was sung in dead languages, and when Bishop Andrew sang the Ite missa est at the end.
But, craftily, nobody accepted his rather peremptory order to "Go". We all tucked into some strikingly good food, wine, and conversation with some very agreeable people. Some of them had even read my blog.
Changing the subject rather, I have had a sudden illumination about what might be a good Coat of Arms for an Ordinariate. You remember that lovely medieval shield used by the Abbey at Walsingham: Silver; a black cross; on it, four lilies. Something like that ... perhaps the cross changed to blue or even S George's red ... would look very well.
Oops ... I 'm going to be late for my Home Communiuons. More later.