Today we have the great pleasure of expressing our joy in the news that Mr Thomas Mason, a member of the Ordinariate Group in Oxford and friend of this group, has been accepted by the Ordinary for training and formation to the Catholic Priesthood, commencing in the Autumn.
Firstly we offer our hearty congratulations to him. But also we renew our thanksgiving to Almighty God for His continued blessings being poured out upon the Ordinariate and the Church in England, especially in sending new workers out into His vineyard in this year when the heart of the Curé d'Ars, universal patron of priests, visits these shores.
Thomas was received into Christ’s Church only last April, and serves as yet another potent reminder of the wonderful fruits that Anglicanorum Coetibus has brought in so little time. His commitment to the solemn and worthy celebration of the sacred liturgy has become the hallmark of those already ordained to serve in the Ordinariate. We think back with delight to the ordination of two other young former Anglicans, Frs Bradley and Lloyd, just a few months ago, and are renewed in our hope for the future of the Church in England.
Yet it is not only Thomas’s fidelity to the liturgical practices of the Church which gives us cause for joy. Like so many of the other young men presenting themselves for ordination, he is fiercely loyal to solid Catholic doctrine. This is the true fulfilment of the Oxford Movement in our age, which continues not to compromise with the prevailing dictatorship of relativism in modern British society, and continues to place the Gospel call to Christian Unity at the heart of its message. This is the vision of the founding fathers of Anglo-Catholicism, that we might do rather more than just referencing the inherited Truths of Catholicism, and that we might live them and try to share them with others.
Individuals who found themselves on the sure rock of Holy Mother Church will complete the conversion and restoration of England as Our Lady’s dowry. Here you will find the Truth, the faith of the Apostles. Here you find the Catholic faith cherished for the great gift that it is, not merely tolerated as one possible view among many.
We reaffirm, therefore, our commitment to pray for Thomas’s journey to ordination, asking the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, Bl John Henry, and S. Gregory the Great that he may grow in holiness and become conformed ever closer to the person of Christ the High Priest.
We know that Thomas is particularly keen on French organ and church music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To celebrate this news, we include some examples of the genre below, so that we might all rejoice together and ask for God's blessing upon him.
First, the Incantation pour un Jour Saint writted by Jean Langlais. This piece, at once mystical, symbolic and entirely vivid, is based on the Gregorian chant of the Lumen Christi, sung by the deacon on Holy Saturday, when during the Easter Vigil he processes into the darkened church with the Paschal Candle. How appropriate for a new Catholic that we focus on the Easter Vigil (and indeed, Thomas's last visit to St James's was for our own Easter Vigil, upon which we reported in this widely read blogpost).
Next, the Gloria from Vierne's extraordinary Messe Solenelle. Often thought of as a grand setting for grand days, or even as a concert piece, Vierne's work, while it does represent beautifully some of the French style of that period, was in fact one of the firm favourites of many French parish and cathedral choirs. This then sits in perfect harmony with the liturgical tradition that Thomas is so keen to maintain - the best can always be offered, even in the simplest of settings, there is no reason or cause to offer less. What makes this piece yet more suitable for today is that it was first sung for a mass on the Immaculate Conception in 1901, a feast so long honoured in England. That Widor played the grand orgue of St Sulpice that day with Vierne at the orgue de choeur adds a level of colour that any devotee of French music of that period will adore.
How else to conclude but with a Te Deum. This, a well known and much loved recording of the plainchant of the Te Deum (as we sang at St James's only two Sundays ago) interspersed in an alternatim setting with the immense power of Pierre Cochereau's playing of the grand orgue of Notre Dame in Paris.