Thursday, 26 July 2012

A funeral and a sense of joy

Today we buried the mortal remains of Anthony Wilson, known to me and to others as "Mr Wilson".

He was old school, a real Catholic one might say. A Colonel of the Church Militant.

He did not suffer fools gladly and so I am modestly pleased to say that we were friends, albeit tentative ones; we lived some 80 miles apart and, other than a few words after Mass and the annual exchange of Christmas letters, our friendship rested on our shared love of the Latin Mass and rejection of all silly liturgical abuse.

Having been nominated to serve (default really as all others were at St Catherine's Trust boot camps or on holiday somewhere), I arrived in good time to size up the layout of the church and sanctuary.

The little Church of Our Lady in Llandovery is no architectural gem but it has a great amount of charm and an air of sanctity about it. I would like very much to be a parishioner there and to lobby for a Tridentine Latin Mass every Sunday (it has no parish priest being served on a shared basis by two other parishes).

Fr Jason Jones, Extraordinary Form Coordinator for the Diocese of Menevia, was the celebrant and the Newcastle Emlyn Schola sang the hauntingly beautiful Requiem Mass.

It was suffocatingly hot and the sanctuary small and made even smaller by the mandatory altar in the middle of it.
Fortescue went out the window, practicality ruled the day and I did not make too many blunders as the server (I think).

Fr Jones gave quite one of the most charitable and kind sermons I have ever heard and he set the scene for those unfamiliar with the EF Mass. No communion unless you were a Catholic and in a state of grace, and reception kneeling, if possible and on the tongue.

Except that, he didn't use those clumsy words, he was light of tongue and as likely to cause offence as a butterfly sunning itself on a warm Welsh country wall.

And, afterwards, we drove to the country graveyard where Mr Wilson was to be buried. I drove in my car through the sleepy town of Llandovery still in my cassock and cotta.
Anyone looking into the car might have thought that this was some new form of personalised greeting show; not so much a gorillagram as a servergram! Maybe they thought I would burst into someone's front room and let rip with the Missa de Angelis Credo.

I think that anyone over the age of 60 must feel a few twinges when standing at the mouth of a yawning grave. I certainly did today.
I kept thinking, in a few years time, or sooner,  that could be me being lowered into the depths.

And then, the graveside blessing and prayers and a sudden sense that I had witnessed something natural and beautiful; the end of an earthly life and, Deo volente, the beginning of an everlasting one.

One that was going to be beyond comparison with this life on earth - all is well, God is here; the Father receives his prodigal son, home for good.

We sang Salve Regina lustily (is there any other way?) and blessed the coffin and grave with holy water.

And then, and then........we adjourned to the pub (The Goose and Cuckoo) to do justice to Mr Wilson in a manner that he would have approved of (as would Chesterton and Belloc and, of course, Giraldus Cambrensis).

There is nothing like a funeral on a blistering hot day to work up a thirst and I wasted no time in downing a pint or two of.......Diet Coke (I was driving you see).

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace Amen

L. Anthony Wilson, Meteorologist died 13th July 2012


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