News Archive

Saturday 24 July 2021

August Music

Sunday 1 August Solemn Mass 11:00
18th Sunday of the Year
Kleine Orgelmesse Haydn
Precatus est Moyses Lassus
O sacrum convivium a 4 Croce

Sunday 8 August Solemn Mass 11:00
19th Sunday of the Year
Missa dominicalis Victoria
In te speravi Domine Lassus
Ego sum panis vivus Esquivel

Sunday 15 August Solemn Mass 11:00
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Missa Assumpta est Maria Palestrina
Assumpta est Maria Palestrina
Vidi speciosam Victoria

Sunday 22 August Solemn Mass 11:00
21st Sunday of the Year
Mass for five voices Byrd
Exspectans exspectavi Dominum de Rore
O salutaris hostia a 6 Byrd

Sunday 29 August Solemn Mass 11:00
22nd Sunday of the Year
Missa L’homme armé a4 Palestrina
Domine in auxilium meum respice Lassus
Sive vigilem Mundy

Wednesday 21 July 2021

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness

We Catholics speak a lot about beauty. The beautiful decoration of our churches, the nobility and adornment of the vestments, the carefully organised gestures of the solemn Mass are all expressions of the beautiful. The reason we take such care over beauty in church is not on account of some self-indulgence or effete sensibility. It is because, however faint, it is a tangible expression of the beauty of heaven, of God’s own beauty, to whom we draw close in the Mass, that action which is the supreme act of the whole virtue of religion. Beauty in church is always placed at the service of the eternal.

There is, moreover, another kind of beauty which is at the service of the eternal, which is a tangible reflection of the beauty in God, which is even closer to us than the artistic glories of the Church — the beauty of holiness. The wonderful hymn by John S.B. Monsell which takes this notion as its title expresses the sentiment well. Just as the Magi laid their gifts at the feet of the Infant in the manger, just as our forebears and the pennies of the poor built churches adorned with sculpture and gilding to glorify God, so we must bring to the altar of God the beauty of our lives. It might seem a very lofty notion, but that is precisely what grace does: it beautifies us, it makes us graceful in the measure that we grow in the virtues which God wants of us.

There are times when the imperfections of our lives can dent our confidence. We can doubt our ability to be saints, or even to grow very much in virtue — it is hard work and there are so many things to knock our faith. The great challenge, however, is to accept that God loves us even on account of our faults and failings, and his grace is made perfect in our weakness. The third verse of that hymn encourages us, where Monsell writes: “Fear not to enter his courts in the slenderness of the poor wealth thou wouldst reckon as thine: Truth in its beauty, and love in its tenderness, these are the offerings to lay on his shrine.”

Every sculpture, every masterpiece of the painter’s art has a flaw, a scuff, or a fault in the gilding. Our lives may be imperfect but what the Lord wants is to lead us on from the good where we are to better. Our spiritual wealth may indeed be poor, we may be knocked by the buffetings of life, our faith may feel small, but “truth in its beauty and love in its tenderness” are the offerings our Lord wants of us. They are the beginnings of holiness, and the first steps on the way of perfection. They will always surprise us and will always make us free.

These reflections are sent out each Wednesday to all those on our mailing list. Click here to sign up to our mailing list, and receive our Sunday E-newsletter and these reflections straight to your inbox.

Tuesday 20 July 2021

With all the pews reopened and tapes and markers removed, it is good to have the church back to normal and no longer looking like a crime scene!

Legal safety restrictions have all come to an end now. Face masks and social distancing are not required but are recommended, and all are advised to exercise caution and to respect the concerns of others who might be at greater risk.


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Sunday 18 July 2021

Changes to safety restrictions

From Monday 19 July:

  • There will no longer be a legal requirement to observe social distancing in church. All pews will be returned to use, and markers indicating 1m space will be removed. 
  • Seats are available in the Sacred Heart Chapel for those who wish to maintain more social distancing. Please also be sensitive to those who may be uncomfortable with others sitting too close to them. We advise those with particular safety concerns to attend the 12:30 Mass on Sunday, which will continue until the end of the summer.
  • Face masks are no longer required by law, but are still encouraged in church, especially as the infection rate remains high in Oxford.
  • Congregational singing may resume. Those singing are encouraged to wear masks.
  • Please continue to approach the altar at Communion using the central aisle only, and return to the pews using the side aisles.
  • The collection will be taken in the usual place, but please consider giving via contactless, PayPal or standing order.
  • Holy water will return and will be changed regularly. Holy water will be available in the container at the back of church for you to fill your own bottles.
  • Please continue to be sensitive to the fears and concerns of others.
  • Hand sanitiser will continue to be available at the doors, and the church will still be cleaned each evening.
Saturday 17 July 2021

Traditionis Custodes

On Friday 16 July, Pope Francis issued a new set of guidelines, Traditionis Custodes, for the provision of Mass in Latin according to the missal of 1962. These guidelines encourage the diocesan bishop to take greater responsibility in overseeing this provision in his diocese.

Following the publication of Traditionis Custodes, His Grace Archbishop Bernard has asked that we continue to provide access to both forms of the Mass. There will be no changes to our regular Mass schedule. We will continue to say Mass according to the Missal of 1962 at 8am on Sundays and at 12:15pm on holy days.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Last week also saw the first opportunity to welcome Br Albert to our church for the first time since his ordination to the diaconate at Blackfriars on 3 July. Br Albert will be a familiar face to many of our congregation — we look forward to hearing him preach soon! #oxfordoratory

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Wednesday 14 July 2021

Congratulations to Elizabeth Mills who was invested as a Dame of Magistral Grace in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in our church last week. The Order of Malta is active in 120 countries caring for people in need through its medical, social and humanitarian works. It is especially involved in helping people living in the midst of armed conflicts and natural disasters by providing medical assistance, caring for refugees, and distributing medicines and basic equipment for survival, in accordance with the Order’s motto: Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum (‘defence of the faith and assistance to the poor’). #oxfordoratory

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Wednesday 14 July 2021

God made it, God loves it, God preserves it

The burning bush, an image we might be so familiar with that we don’t find it so surprising, is an odd way for God to reveal himself to Moses. When God wants to give an image of himself, he uses something big, like the pillar of cloud or the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites through the wilderness. These images prevent us from thinking that God is small, that he is part of creation, that we could ever hope to define and limit him. A great cloud or a burning column of fire both inspire in us a sense of awe and mystery, which reflect in a small way that sense of awe and mystery we should have when we think about God.

The burning bush, on the other hand, seems small, dangerously close to an image or an idol that could be mistaken for God by someone who hasn’t quite understood him. God must choose to take this risk for a very particular reason then. There is something very particular to be taught to Moses and to us through this image.

As demonstrated by the various answers God gives to Moses when he asks his name, God reveals himself as the source of all being. The bush burns without being burnt up. It tells us something about God’s act of creation. He creates without being worn out. There is no limit to his energy and his activity. Creation is also not just a once-in-a-universe’s-lifetime event.

It’s so easy to think of creation like the flicking of a switch that starts the whole process off. We can sometimes reduce God’s part in creation to being the one who pressed the big button marked ‘Go’ that set off the Big Bang. But that would be to misunderstand what it means to create.

Creation is not just that initial bringing of things into existence. It is also continuing to hold them in existence. God continuously creates. That doesn’t mean there are lots of new things constantly popping into existence out of nothing, but simply that he continues to hold everything that currently is in existence.

Like the burning bush, God shares his being, without any loss of his own nature, without being burnt up himself.

This means God is intimately linked with every part of his creation at all times. The tiniest speck of dust would cease to exist unless he continued to hold it in being. Every moment of our existence is proof that God never forgets us.

At the same time that God is revealing all this about his being and creation, he is also showing his particular care for his chosen people within that creation. ‘The cry of the sons of Israel has come to me.’ Likewise, we can be confident that he hears us when we call on him.

Mother Julian of Norwich saw in a vision from God all of creation held in the palm of her hand, appearing insignificant and fragile:

He showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding, and I thought, ‘What could this be?’ And I was told, ‘It is all that has been made.’ I marvelled at how it could exist, for I thought it might suddenly fall into nothingness — it was so small. And I was given an answer in my thoughts: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And in the same way, all things begin to be because of the love of God.

In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God preserves it.

The whole of creation only continues in existence because God keeps it in being. It exists because God made it, God loves it, and God preserves it. And the same is even more true of each one of us.