Thursday, February 10, 2011

We walked...

...a group of people, at a rather brisk pace, from Westminster Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament last night for Mass. Mass? Yes. For over 30 years now, Mass has been celebrated regularly in Parliament for the MPs, peers, and staff and we were priviledged to be able to attend as the guest of a kind Member of the House of Lords. It was an unforgettable evening: the Mass was one of the most beautiful I have ever attended. Canon Pat Brown, who is parish priest of Pimlico, is the RC chaplain and he has a fine singing voice. We sang the Sanctus and Agnus Dei etc, and Ubi Caritas at Communion, and some fine hymns. An MP did the first Reading. It was rather moving to see busy politicians taking time out to attend a weekday evening Mass. The chapel of St Mary Undercroft is beautiful. My thoughts went back to the afternoon, now more than three decades ago, when Cardinal Basil Hume said the first Mass there. I was working in Parliament at the time for a team of MPs, and it was thrilling to be invited to be at the Mass, which was a very simple and calm but utterly memorable event...the start of a new chapter in history.

At last night's Mass finished, we gathered in WEstminster Great Hall and studied its history. A section of the stone-flagged floor was blocked off and I presume this is for the insertion of a plaque commemorating the Pope's visit last year. It will join the other plaques martking the great events that have happened there...St Thomas More's trial, Sir Winston Churchill's lying-in-state etc.

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