‘Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven...' (Genesis)
Just back from 8AM Tridentine Mass at the Brompton Oratory, or ‘Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’. A friend and I walked there in the early morning sun. The Oratory looked radiant, glowing with yellow-gold sunshine.
The silence of the Oratory always smotes my senses when I go into the church, something about coming in from the buzz and the bewildering noise of South Kensington and Knightsbridge into the still and tranquil. This morning, I noted that candles were lit in various places of the church, but couldn't fathom why this was the case.
Before Mass began, Fr. Rupert announced that today, April 16th is the anniversary of the dedication of the church, and that the candles marked the places where the bishop blessed the church. The Mass for today is the ‘Mass of the Dedication’. ‘Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven; and it shall be called the court of God’ reads the Introit from Genesis. The gradual reads ‘this place was made by God, a priceless mystery, it is without reproof.’ The Communion from Matthew, ‘my house shall be called the house of prayer, saith the Lord: in it everyone that asketh receiveth: and to him that knocketh it shal be opened.’
Fr. Rupert was vested in Roman vestments, which were festive and celebratory, instilled in us an instant sense of the joyousness of the occasion. My ordinary vocabulary fails when I seek to describe such vestments. Thank God for digital photography, that the sight of this vestment may be available to anyone on the web, the world over.
Only a few years ago (when as a visitor to London) I would attend the 8AM, and sometimes there were only a handful of people (one morning in October 2008, I counted seven people), but today I counted 26 seated both in St. Joseph’s chapel, and in the pews directly behind this chapel.
This evening there will be Solemn Benediction (6.30PM) at the Brompton Oratory.