Thursday, 19 November 2015

Rome-bound again!

Off to Rome next week for the five-yearly visit of the Judicial Vicars of England and Wales to the Roman Curia. On Monday I was in London for a meeting to hear from Fr Frank Morrissey how Mitis Judex is meant to work. I thought I had it worked out in my head but now I find I have more questions so I hope to sort them out next week. It was interesting to hear that the introduction of the shortened process for marriage nullity cases is reviving the provisions of Clement V`s decree Saepe of 1308 which were changed by the 1917 code. Makes me feel better about it all! It is also the biggest change to the whole process since 1741.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Back again.

Populus Summorum Pontificum approaches the Vatican. Photo by Joseph Shaw
I spent three nights in Rome at the Domus Australia. I got back two weeks ago. I was going anyway but the LMS asked for chaplains for their pilgrimage and I said I`d help if I could be of assistance and so became, according even to The Universe, the pilgrimage chaplain. However the pilgrimage was a bit of a flop. Only three signed up of which only one, Alan, was staying in the Domus, so my duties were very light. Alan is good company and a veteran of pilgrimages of various kinds on which our paths have crossed over the years.

Flying from Newcastle at 7.15am and happening upon a local Lefebvrist at the airport who was going to the pilgrimage too, I arrived at about midday in Rome.  The first event was Pontifical Vespers at the FSSP church of Santissima Trinita. My information sheet said it started at 6 so I got there at 5.30 to get a good seat but found on arrival it was not to start until 7 so I prayed and listened to the choir rehearsing. Vespers ( with Benediction) lasted an hour and forty minutes after which I rushed to get the bus back to the Domus so as to arrive before they stopped serving dinner. I had watched Vespers very carefully as I had agreed to take part in Vespers at the Domus on Saturday night. I was told there would be solemn vespers and so read my Fortescue and photocopied the relevant pages so i could go over it again. On arrival I found it was billed as Pontifical Vespers with Cardinals Pell and Brandsmuller. Hence my close attention. It must be about 15 years since we had solemn vespers in the EF on Tyneside so I`m a bit rusty. I have never studied the ceremonies for Pontifical Vespers as the likelihood of that happening in Hexham and Newcastle is just so remote as to be not worth the effort.

Fr Withoos celebrates Mass at the Domus Photo by Joseph Shaw
It was a joy to be able to celebrate the EF at the Domus with such ease. Fr Withoos, who is a resident, has an altar in the chapel equipped. It was good to see Fr Withoos again after a few years. As I have explained elsewhere, Fr Withoos, ( recently employed by the Ecclesia Dei commission and now a secretary to Cardinal Pell) studied at Durham university for a number of years pursuing a doctorate and so got to know us in H & N. I was looking forward to catching up with him and we arranged to have dinner on the Friday night. This meant a clash with archbishop Pozzo`s Pontifical mass starting at 7pm as I reckoned Mass would take about two hours and I didn`t want to have to rush back to the Domus for dinner again. Anyway the big event was on the next day at St Peter`s so I decided to forgo the archbishop Pozzo Mass. I was also coming to the conclusion after the previous evening that I can probably manage only about one Pontifical event a month!

So what to do on Friday day-time? There was nothing I particularly wanted to see in Rome so I decided to take the bus to the Chiesa Nova and visit the shrine of St Philip Neri as I`d read a biography of him this year.  I spent a long time there and partly attended a Mass in the chapel where he is buried where a young and linguistically versatile priest celebrated Mass for four people, two Italians and two Columbians. He gave a homily in Italian and the a summary in Spanish. all very impressive. I decided to wander down the Via Giulia after this wishing I had brought a detailed guide book but ended up in the Campo di Fiori for a vegetable sandwich and small beer before heading back to the Domus where I later said Mass and sat reading on the roof garden until it all got rather noisy.

Saturday brought the main event. A group of us got a taxi to San Lorenzo in Damaso for Exposition and then the wonderful procession to St Peter`s. The Mass was all very good but having been last year when we had a message of support from Pope Benedict read out and the Mass was at the altar of the chair for the first time it wasn`t quite as exciting. The homily appeared to be a kind of homily for any occasion. Afterwards in the sacristy I met Fr Southwell who is now undertaking a doctorate. It was as always good to see him and he briefly introduced me to Fr Zuhlsdorf who had had a walk-on part in the Mass as one of the chaplains who look after pontifical ablutions. After Mass I had no plans but fortunately Alan found me, his chaplain, and we went for a pizza.

In the evening there was the vespers I was to take part in. I`d thought it odd that there had been no mention of a rehearsal so I went down to the chapel half an hour before it was due to start. There was no-one there nor anyone in the sacristy. Vespers when it started was rather low key. Cardinal Pell sat in choir dress and Fr Crean did the necessary. Afterwards a meal with the Una Voce Council gathering who had just elected their new president. Cardinals Pell and Brandmuller stayed and Cardinal Pell spoke at the end to tell us that the Synod had gone well and not to worry.
Dinner with Una Voce and Cardinals Pell and Brandmuller. Photo by Joseph Shaw

As direct flights to Newcastle from Rome leave on Sundays I left the next day. Enjoyable but I don`t think I`ll go next year. On the other hand a LMS pilgrimage to Rome which had a planned programme would be a good thing and I hope would be popular.

For the rest of the photos by Joseph Shaw click here.