I have just seen on Markenfield Hall's Website that, once again, a Requiem Mass will be offered there on Saturday 23rd. August at 11.00a.m. This Mass will be offered by Fr. Creighton-Jobe of the London Oratory and sung by some of the monks from Ampleforth Abbey, for the repose of the souls of those brave members of the Markenfield family who sacrificed so much in defence of the Faith.
In France a couple of weeks ago we were able to visit two Benedictine establishments at Wisques near St. Omer. Due to time availability I was only able to hear Vespers at the monastery for men and only visit the monastery for women without being able to join the Community in the Prayer of the Church.
The monks at Wisques seemed to number about 15 and all were certainly well into middle age (Father Manion of the USA, at the Oxford Conference, would have referred to them as third and fourth agers.) The monks sang Vespers beautifully in French with a bit of Latin. I was positively moved by the experience. The only other person there, apart from me and the monks, was a lady who spoke no English. I was able to elicit from her the location of the women's Monastery AND (rather savagely, I thought) that they "did" it all in Latin.
Pulling up outside the enormous Abbey church of the women's house and seeing a couple of reassuring "Walk this way and have a look" signs we (the others had woken up) walked that way. Upon entering the chapel, which revealed the railed off west end of the church, the sense of the Sacred was somehow immediately tangible. My two boys (aged 9 and 5 ) known for their crankiness after waking up (unlike their father) were really edified and the silence was broken only when Fabian accused Joe of not joining his hands after he had decided to light some candles (with Fabian's ever diminishing Euros to finance the touching but dubious operation!)
Pictures of that Benedictine Community in all sorts of media from old sepia photos to a modern high-tech digital resources plotted the history of the Community in the very humble visitors' area. We never actually saw a soul there until we left and a middle-aged nun wished us a good evening, as she walked towards visitors' entrance, which we were just leaving. Fabian, the five-year old, came out of the building, strapped himself in in the car and blurted out, "Who was watching us, Dad?"
I could only answer that God's presence there was more easily felt than when we say family prayers, with the kids scowling at each other on account of "borrowed" ghds (which allow them to iron their hair with electrified tongs), mascara, lipstick, clothes, socks, shoes, shorts, bats, bikes, boots, pocket-money, cds, mobiles, laptops and i-pods. And so, minus all these trappings, it was - astonishing tranquility and beautiful silent simplicity. There was nothing at all to to detract from the tabernacle centred above the altar which bore six candles in the "Benedictine" arrangement.
The Community of Dames at Wisques is quite large and I would estimate that well over half of the forty sisters pictured together in their vestibule were less than in their third age, as Fr. Manion might have called them. To me this means they weren't more than in their mid-thirties. It was clearly a very vibrant community, whose vibrancy focused on being still and silent in the presence of the Lord.
Please pray for any young women considering a vocation to the religious life. At Oxford I had the privilege to serve Fr. George's Mass on the last day at the Oratory. Fr. George is a Friar of the Immaculate. Thanks be to God there is a Community of traditional women in this country based in Cornwall which offers the Extraordinary Rite of Mass to its Community. Fr. George is its chaplain.
The Sisters of the Immaculate were present in noticeable numbers at the recent Mass at Westminster Cathedral, celebrated by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. They wear a large Miraculous medal on the left hand side of their grey habits and are also a thriving community like the Benedictine Dames of Wisques. The Mass offered by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos was, strangely, referred to in Mgr. Loftus's recent article in the Catholic Times in rather negative terms. I wonder why?
Please remember that Friday is a Holy Day which we are bound, under pain of mortal sin, to attend without reasonable cause. Mass for the Feast of the Assumption will be offered at Broughton Hall at 11.30a.m. on Friday.
Our Lady of Walsingham, Queen assumed into Heaven, pray for us.
St. Nicholas Owen, pray for us.