The church was quite full with many, many, children aged from zero to 18 or so.
The altar was prepared and the candles lit but.....no celebrant.
With five minutes to go a sudden hush fell over the congregation (they were already very quiet and reverent, this was going to be a Latin mass, remember).
And then, in a scene oddly reminiscent of the elven troops marching in to Helm's Deep, they appeared.
Not elves; these beings were much more potent and important - they were Norbertines!
They did not march up the church, they appeared to be on castors as they glided, serenely and without any unseemly haste, as they proceeded to the sacristy.
I have often felt that those priests who celebrate the Old Rite, have a certain aura about them; an invisible glow that, somehow, makes its presence felt.
So it was with the two Norbertine fathers.
|Priests with a definite aura - the White Canons, big guns of the Church|
I never learnt their names but there was just time to exchange a few words afterwards and, when I asked permission to feature their photograph on the blog I was both surprised and inspired to receive the words: "Keep up the good work".
The Mass was, of course, as always, magnificent but, when it came to the sermon, the celebrant gave a most moving homily.
Certainly, I would rate it as being in the top five sermons that I have listened to in my short life (!)
What follows is a poor transcription, from a poor memory and I ask forgiveness from the priest who treated us so kindly....here it is...I should state that the priest did not so much preach at us as speak to us, without notes.
We were in a one sided conversation with a man of massive intellectual capacity that did not hinder in any way, his understanding of us lesser mortals, so now, here it really is:-
"I have a great devotion to the Shroud of Turin and an interesting fact that has emerged of late is that analysis of the image has shown that Our Lord died with His head resting on his right shoulder.
We believe, of course, that, His Blessed Mother stood at the right hand side of the cross; Our Lady is always depicted this way and, that means, of course, that Our Blessed Lord died gazing into the eyes of his beloved mother.
And, our Lady, held the sight of her Beloved Son in her own gaze.
Now we know that Our Lord loves us all, although I do not really know why He loves me, he certainly loves you - and we may hope that, when our time of death comes, He will gaze lovingly into our eyes - and we, for our part, may gaze also into His eyes......"
Enough. I really can not do justice to this fine and most moving sermon.
And after Mass we adjourned to the church hall for a fine repast and enjoyed the company of many parishioners and their children.
Alan and Suzanne Robinson (from the College) were most hospitable and, as an added bonus, we were able to visit the grave of Fr Richard More Sutherland, the priest who bestowed the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony on us at the Church of the Holy Name, Esher, all those years ago.
The grave was tucked into the side of a hedge, just five yards from the hall, but, sadly, the headstone had been smashed in some recent mishap.
We shall attempt to remedy it when we next visit this little church, miles from anywhere.
And, if you wish to learn more about the Norbertines, please visit their website HERE or, if you are in the process of discerning a vocation as a priest or sister, please visit Norbertine Vocations.
Please say a prayer for the eternal soul of Fr Sutherland.