Friday, February 27, 2015

Lent II

The second Sunday of Lent is upon us and the Gospel recounts the Transfiguration an occasion which has its own feast in August - 40 days before the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Transfiguration is of course a feast which looks forward to the joy of the Resurrection. Easter.

Masses this weekend:

Saturday Vigil, St.Mary's, Gibbet Street, Halifax. 6.00 p.m.
Sunday Sacred Heart, Broughton Hall, Skipton, 11.00 a.m. Sung Mass.
           St. Joseph's, Pontefract Road, Castleford, 3.00 p.m.
           Holy Spirit, Bath Road, Heckmondwike, 4.00 p.m.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A charming read

One of the best things about school holidays is the chance to read more than time normally allows. A scout round a second hand bookshop earlier this week enabled me to pick up a delightful read. Patrick Leigh Fermor's A time to keep silence recounts his experiences in French monasteries in the 1950s.

At the Abbey of St Wandrille de Fontanelle in Normandy he recalls conventual High Mass:

"Tierce ended, the officiating monk entered in his vestments, and the deacon and sub-deacon, the acolytes and torch-bearers. They genuflected together,and the Mass began. Every moment the ceremony gained splendour. If it was the feast of a great saint, the enthroned abbot was arrayed by his myrmidons in the pontificalia. A gold mitre was placed on his head, and the gloved hand that held the crosier was  jewelled at the point of the stigma and on the third finger the great ring sparkled over the fabric. The thurifer approached the celebrant and a column of incense climbed into the air, growing and spreading like an elm-tree of smoke across the shafts of sunlight. The chanting became steadily more complex, led by a choir of monks who stood in the middle of the aisle, their voices limning chants that the black Gregorian block-notes, within their comet-like tails and Moorish-looking arabesques, wove and remove across the threads of the antique four-line clef on the page of their graduals. Then, with a quiet solemnity, the monks streamed into the cloister in the wake of a jewelled cross. Slowly they proceeded through the cylinders of gold into which the Gothic tracery cut the sunlight. Their footfalls made no noise and only the ring of the crosier's butt on the flags and the clanging of the censer could be heard across the Gregorian....The antiphonal singing from the stalls continued to build its invisible architecture of music: a scaffolding that sent columns of plain-song soaring upwards, to be completed by an anthem from the choir that roofed it like a canopy. The anthem was followed by a long stillness which seemed to be scooped out of the very heart of sound. After long minutes, a small bell rang and then the great bell from the tower which told of the rites that were being celebrated and the mysterious events taking place; and the heads of the monks fell as if one blow had scythed them away. Next, an unwinding, a decrescendo. The Mass sang itself out, the kiss of peace passed like a whispered message down the stalls, the officiating court dispersed, and the vestments were removed." pp 36-37.

I found this to be quite breathtaking.

No sung or high Mass for us in Leeds this weekend - but Masses for the 1st Sunday of Lent are as follows:
Saturday (Vigil) St. Mary's, Gibbet Street, Halifax. 6.00 p.m.
Sunday Sacred Heart, Broughton Hall, Skipton. 11.00 a.m.
           St. Joseph's, Pontefract Road, Castleford, 3.00 p.m.

A quick look at this Sunday's gospel reminded me of Pope Benedict's compelling chapter on  the temptations of Jesus in part 2 of his Jesus of Nazareth. The temptation account is this weekend's Gospel. The Pope devotes an entire chapter of over 20 pages to this and in it compares Jesus in the wilderness of the desert with the wild beasts with Adam in the paradise of the garden. Christ is with beasts and angels but here for 40 days peace is restored, the peace Isaiah proclaims for the days of the Messiah when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard with the kid. When sin has been overcome peace and harmony with God shall be restored.  Again it is of course pointing to Easter and I suppose to Mary's discovery in the early hours of Easter day - the new Sabbath.

Daily Mass at Broughton (except Sundays) at 9.30 a.m.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday


Saturday, February 14, 2015


Masses this weekend:

Saturday- St. Mary's, Gibbet Street, Halifax. 6.00 p.m.
Sunday - Sacred Heart, Broughton Hall, Skipton, 11.00 a.m.
              St. Joseph's, Pontefract Road, Castleford, 3.00 p.m.
AND      St. Joseph's, Skipton Road, Bilton, Harrogate, 4.00 p.m. followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  Thanks to Fr. David Smith the celebrant and PP Fr. Byrne.

Lent begins on Wednesday and there will be Mass with imposition of ashes at Sacred Heart, Broughton Hall, Skipton. Mass at 11.00 a.m. 
It is of course a day of fast and abstinence which ever increasingly seems to fast forwards us to Good Friday. 
Mass every other weekday will be at the usual time of 9.30 a.m. throughout Lent except on Sundays when Mass is at 11.00 a.m.

Spring is in the air; there are more than tiny little signs of a new season sprouting up out of the ground in the garden, parkland and woodland alike. The frosts are still long and sharp and the fogs are still freezing but the amount of daylight lengthens. From this root we get the word Lent. 
Lengthening suggests something which reaches a yielding point when something stops or irreparably changes. The source and the summit for us is naturally the Resurrection - the risen God - who suffered and died for us when He became man.
There is for me a holy terror about the word resurrection, as opposed to resuscitation, regeneration or reawakening. Its immediacy is startling and unique. 

Lent will soon enough be over if I don't make up my mind now how to celebrate the spiritually beneficial opportunities this season brings without simultaneously trying to lose weight or save up money for the Easter "do" etc.
Time to be spent carefully is Lent. 

Friday, February 6, 2015


Masses this weekend

Saturday 6.00 p.m.St. Mary's, Gibbet Street, Halifax
Sunday 11.00 a.m. Sacred Heart, Broughton Hall, Skipton
             3.00 p.m. St. Peter's, Leeds Rd. Laisterdyke, Bradford
             3.00 p.m. St. Joseph's, Pontefract Rd, Castleford