Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Another First Mass in the Ordinariate

We reported earlier this week from the Ordinations of Fr James Bradley and Fr Daniel Lloyd at St Patrick's Soho Square, and from the First Mass of Fr Bradley at Holy Ghost Balham.  After the offering of Fr Bradley on Sunday morning, members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group journeyed north to Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires, to assist at Fr Daniel Lloyd’s first celebration of the Sacrifice of Calvary.

The setting could hardly have been more different. The Church of the Holy Rood, a title so appropriate for the First Mass of an Ordinariate Priest, is in many ways a product of the great iconoclasm of the last century, yet at a second glance retains and rejoices in many of the traditional marks of the Catholic Faith. As such, Mass was celebrated towards the East, as is to be favoured according to the Ordinariate’s liturgical patrimony: priest and people together in awful anticipation of Christ the High Priest’s return.

In recognition of the universality of the Catholic Church, into which Fr Lloyd has now been ordained as priest forever, the Newman Consort sang the Introit and other Propers in Latin plainsong, the language of generations before. The setting of the Mass, Missa Euge Bone, composed by Christopher Tye, echoed that fateful era of the Henrician Schism when, as the Assistant Priest Mgr Andrew Burnham pointed out, the musical jewel of English Catholicism was buried, divorced from centuries of tradition. How moving it was, then, to witness this humble new priest offering the same sacrifice using a “set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the Third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed”.

Fr John Saward of Ss. Gregory and Augustine in Oxford, himself a former minister in the Church of England, preached the homily. He drew our attention to the life of Bl Karl Leisner, a holy priest held in Dachau concentration camp, who died of tuberculosis shortly after being liberated by the Allied Forces. He was captured a deacon, and whilst imprisoned was ordained to the priesthood by a bishop and fellow inmate. Due to his illness he had only the strength to offer the Mass but once.

Fr Saward noted the natural response of the secular world to such a situation; how great a waste of a life and futile an exercise to ordain a priest who had no opportunity to help the sick or console the dying. We were put in mind of the words of the Blessed Apostle Paul, of the crucified Christ Himself, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Fr Lloyd was exhorted to remain faithful to the celebration of the Mass, and reminded of the infinite grace outpoured at a single offering in union with Christ and His Church.

The Prayers of the Faithful echoed words which remain imprinted on the hearts of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, those of the Prayer for the Church Militant here in Earth, amended to intercede on behalf of our Holy Father the Pope, along with the Ordinary, before also beseeching God’s protection of His servant Elizabeth our Queen and her Government. Patrimony received, purified, and proclaimed by the Church in the fullness of truth.

The joyful beauty of the Mass reached a crescendo at the Benedictus and culminated in the Agnus Dei, the Newman Consort truly excelling and raising hearts on high in the sight of the Divine Majesty. Such unspeakable wickedness to silence the song of Christ’s Faithful in the name of reformation.
An altogether different song of gladness concluded the Mass. A resounding ‘We praise thee, O God’ from our new priest gave way to the exuberance of Haydn’s Te Deum, echoing the great joy of the Church Militant and Triumphant at this first offering of the Holy Sacrifice. Those present could not but cast their minds back to the Beatification Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman, when our Holy Father concluded his offering with that same great expression of praise. Not confounded by this monolith of Austrian faith, English devotion to the Ordinariate’s heavenly mother could not but assert its place, with all in typically enthusiastic chorus singing ‘Joy to thee, O Queen of Heaven…’.

The celebration of a priest’s First Mass is one which draws together the Body of Christ in love for the new priest. Yet such an occasion is inevitably deeply personal and intimate for the man conformed to Christ Himself. In grateful thanksgiving, Fr Lloyd offered his mother and wife posies of flowers which had previously adorned the altar, before imparting his first blessing on them and all present.

How can we not, on such occasions, pray all the more earnestly for vocations, for mothers and fathers to offer their sons to the Lord who is ever-faithful? Lovingly reverencing the anointed hands of the new priest, by whose words and actions the grace of Christ is made present to his flock, we pray that His grace may extend to wanderers from the fold so that they might be one with the saints in one unbroken peace, one unbounded love.
Praise we Him, Whose love divine
Gives the guests His blood for wine,
Gives His body for the feast,
Love the victim, Love the priest.
Thanks be to God for sending His Church these two new priests.


  1. "Thanks be to God for sending His Church these two new priests."
    Amen to that!
    I am somewhat intrigued - was Fr Lloyd's first mass according to the 1962 missal, or did he just have two deacons and a presbyter assistens? And is that formerly (and, as is to be hoped, future) Father Hunwicke who read the intercessions?

  2. Victor, that is indeed Fr Hunwicke reading the Prayers of the Faithful. Rest assured we too share your hopes that one day he may offer the Holy Sacrifice in communion with the Successor of S. Peter.

    The Mass was celebrated according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite with a deacon performing his proper role and an instituted acolyte from Blackfriars also assisting in conformity with the hermeneutic of continuity so close to our Holy Father's heart. Mgr Burham acted as Assistant Priest as is customary for a priest's First Mass.