Sunday, July 18, 2010

An awesome day... Westminster Cathedral, where I remained completely silent from the conclusion of the first Mass of the day at 8am to the closing of the Cathedral at 8pm. It was an unforgettable 12 hours.

There was a box for donations at the entrance to St Joseph's Chapel, and at every Mass the Sponsored Silence was announced: an act of witness in support of the visit of the Holy Father and in solidarity with him...and people were invited to join me in prayer, and/or to make donations. And they came, generously giving of their time and their funds, kneeling to pray, shaking my hand, whispering messages of encouragement...old friends, people who know me from EWTN, people of all ages and from a number of different countries, a fellow-student from Maryvale, a family with small children all eagerly dropping in their coins, a dear elderly priest who prayed for a long while...lots and lots and lots of people...

The beauty of the liturgy - Mass after Mass unrolling as I sat in the chapel, slipping out every now and then to join the congregation. Huge crowds pour into the Cathedral for every Mass. There was a lull at lunchtime, and then numbers began gathering again for a glorious sung First Vespers and Benediction. Then the round of evening Masses.

The Gospel for today was about Martha and Mary, v. appropriate, a reminder of the importance of just listening to Christ, and not always scurrying about. It was wonderful just to be, with my Maryvale books, and my Rosary, and Magnificat. A phrase echoed in my mind a lot during the day "The Mass of the ages"...being in the Cathedral all day, hearing the Mass said, chanted, sung, again and again, there was a timelessness about it that was magnificent.

The rumble of voices saying "I confess..." The singing of a Kyrie. The Sign of Peace - which can often seem artificial and forced but which went rustling swiftly like a breath through the vast congregation and was rather moving to see. The silence as the bell rings at the Elevation. The sound of a great congregation singing the Pater Noster.

As the day ended, I was almost sorry to see the kindly figure of Canon Tuckwell, the Cathedral Administrator, coming along in the dusk to announce the Cathedral's closure. I found my voice, to thank him and everyone who had helped - especially the kind lady from the Cathedral office who brought me tea and coffee and biscuits and organised things...


Malcolm McLean said...

"The rumble of voices saying 'I confess'".
I don't think that phrase is in any standard prayer. Of course it must mean, in context, "I publically proclaim my belief in". You wouldn't have been eavesdropping on the confessionals during your silence, would you?

Anonymous said...


'I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault; in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do and I asked Blessed Mary Ever Virgin, all the Angels and Saints and you, my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.'

Malcolm McLean said...

Oh, of course.

How silly of me.