Monday, 9 December 2013

Mass at Much Birch

Mass celebrated in an "architecturally challenged" chapel
(Fr Antony Tumelty OSB)

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated with a Missa Cantata at the Poor Clares Monastery Chapel at Much Birch, near Hereford.

But, before Mass we were privileged to witness the reception into the Church of a young man.

This was not just any old reception; this was a reception according to the traditional rites of the Church and carried out by Fr Antony Tumelty OSB, Chaplain to the Poor Clares community.

Of course, the young convert received the full array of the Sacraments involved in the reception of an adult but, it was most impressive to hear him make his affirmation - strong, clear and confident.

We were witnessing an immensely profound moment, one that uniquely affected all present - we were witnessing the birth of a new member of the family and, within a framework of 30 or so minutes, were we intrinsically bound to the young man and he to us.

The words of affirmation in the old rite are not for the faint hearted, they embrace the key elements of the Catholic Faith including a sentence that accepts fully the doctrine of Purgatory and the redemption of won't hear Purgatory mentioned by the liberals. They don't like to talk about that any more, and for the life of me I cannot think why, it is such a magnificent evocation of God's love for us.

The choir (Newcastle Emlyn Schola) travelled some considerable distance from West Wales and sang beautifully as the sanctuary was engulfed in clouds of incense.

And, after Mass, we all crowded into an ante room for a more secular celebration involving cake and wine.

It was good to see so many familiar faces and to meet new ones including Marion Luscombe, a friend from Facebook and, of course, the celebrant, Fr Antony who had given a very witty but spiritually inspirational homily.

How providentially fortunate we are in having priests who celebrate the Latin Mass.
What they lack in numbers they make up for in their spiritual character; they are the sort of men who epitomise the Faith through the ages, a point made so poignantly by the fact that Fr Antony was wearing a chasuble that still had original stitching from the year in which it was made, 1480.

Let me give that date again, 1480 - Edward IV was king, and it would be another twelve years before Christopher Columbus would discover the New World. And nearly 40 years before Martin Luther would nail his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg.

And here were the vestments still in use 533 year after they were made, - what better evidence of the hermeneutic of continuity could you wish for?

Sadly, there were not many Poor Clares in evidence, I recall Sisters, I believe from this community, calling at offices asking for alms when I worked in Cheltenham in the 1980s.

Back then it was an entry requirement for the order that no nun should exceed four feet in height.
The three Poor Clares attending Mass were somewhat taller than this, doubtless due to a diet of the fruits of Vatican 2.

As we left we felt that we had been present at a number of great events, the feast of Our Lady, the sung Mass, the reception of new member to the Faith, meeting new friends and experiencing the wise words of Fr Tumelty and a gathering of members of the family of Christ.

Thanks to all not forgetting LMS Cardiff.


  1. It was indeed a profound and beautiful occasion, and the Holy Mass was indeed nourishment for the soul. Meeting you and your lady wife was delightful - even if you did know practically everyone there! I hope we meet again, and the folk comprising the Schola sang beautifully, I sat next to a lovely young woman, fully familiar with all the Latin responses, who, at the wine & nibbles later, told me she was just 18 years old. What a joy.

  2. Deo Gratias, Richard, for sharing this Divine News.

    A wonderfully uplifting read.

    in Domino

  3. Thank you Zephyrinus, it was truly a great occasion.

  4. My first Latin Mass and an immensely proud day to sponsor a new member of our family. Thank you for making me feel so welcome.

    1. Jennifer, well, we were guests there ourselves. It was a wonderful Mass but then, every Mass is a wonderful one. May I suggest you attend a Low EF Mass, quite different inasmuch as it is quiet and low key. A chance to reflect and a chance to pray in silence. God bless.