News Archive

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Director of Music

The Fathers seek to appoint a Director of Music from January 2021 or earlier, to head all aspects of choral conducting and organ-playing within the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy for which the English Oratories are famous. Though a part-time post, a generous stipend reflects its artistic significance. Numerous additional services attract extra fees.

Details from: The Prefect of Music, Fr Oliver Craddock, e-mail: marked ‘Director of Music Vacancy’.

Closing date: Friday 30 October

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Mass on Sunday. #oxfordoratory

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Wednesday 23 September 2020

For thy sake

I've always loved the words of the Metaphysical poet and Anglican clergyman, George Herbert:

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see;
And what I do in anything,
To do it as for Thee.

In these strange and maddening days, many have felt themselves totally adrift from their normality, unsure of their purpose and direction. It has been, and is, a disquieting experience, leading some to question what it is they believe. Feeling cut off from the consolation of their religion and needing to be angry with ‘someone’, they have distanced themselves from both the Church and from God. How do we find our way back to a sense of God and find peace again? I do not pretend to have an answer which will satisfy all, but I have found it helpful to consider the sentiments of George Herbert, whose advice is to do everything as if it were for God. It may not seem to us, or indeed be, of any great significance, but I don’t believe that matters. As St. Teresa of Avila once noted: “It is not the magnitude of what we do, but the love with which we do it.” Hence, doing what we do as though we were doing it for the Lord – that is, doing things “for (His) sake” – can bring about a transformation in us.

Back to Herbert again:

A servant with this clause [“For Thy sake”]
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and the action fine.

It is a small enough thing, insignificant we might say, but it is doing something.

We read in the fifth chapter of St Luke’s Gospel how, after the disciples had spent a long, fruitless night fishing on the Lake of Galilee, they were surprised when Jesus told them to go and try again. Peter famously answers, “Lord, we have laboured all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will do it.” He might well have argued the toss and told the carpenter from Nazareth to keep to making ploughs and yokes and leave the fishing to them. Instead, he chose to act in the obedience of faith and do as he was told, even though it made little or no sense to him. His faith was rewarded.

Jesus had instructed him: “Launch out into the deep and pay out your nets for a catch.” In effect, Peter and his co-workers were acting as they had done every night of their working lives; what made things different was their new sense of vocation: “Because you say so, I will do it.”

When we learnt to swim, there was for some of us, a time when we preferred to stay close to the side of the pool at the shallow end. We can sometimes live life a little like that, unwilling through fear or a lack confidence to “launch out into the deep” – taking our foot off the bottom of the pool and moving away from the safety of the shallows. Someone once said that to discover new countries, we have to be prepared to leave the shore. Talk of launching out anywhere may seem to make little sense right now, especially when it looks as though restrictions on our movements and activities may be about to be imposed again. However, we need to keep moving, mentally and spiritually. Our prayer life need not ever stagnate. When St. Catherine of Siena said, “Every time and every place is a place and time for prayer,” she wasn’t trying to be clever, simply encouraging us to keep going, regardless of our how we might feel about the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Duc in altum: launch out into the deep and do not be afraid.

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Tuesday 22 September 2020

A lot of essential repairs were delayed in the last few months and are finally under way. At the moment all the loose render from the top of the church buttresses is being removed and replaced. You can see the lighter new render on the first buttress to the left. Quite a few roof problems should be fixed this week too. #oxfordoratory

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Monday 21 September 2020

Fr Joseph Hamilton has been living with us for the last two years while studying at the university. This morning we wished him buon viaggio and grazie as he moves to Rome, where he will be taking up a new position in the Vatican. #oxfordoratory

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Friday 18 September 2020

Fr Benedict's Ordination and First Mass

Wednesday 16 September 2020

The Cross

At the Oratory we are blessed with many relics of the True Cross. While all of these are tiny splinters, some of them are encased in beautiful reliquaries, of crystal, silver, precious wood, and gold. They are all from the wood of the Cross on which Jesus died, discovered by the Empress Helena in the Fourth Century. It is that discovery, and the dedication of the large church on Calvary in Jerusalem, that was commemorated on Monday with the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Our celebration, however, was not of two historical events; it was a celebration of the mystery of the Cross in the story of salvation and in our own personal paths to holiness.

It is easy to see a cross simply as a symbol of our faith, or even as a pretty decoration. That it became the most recognised religious symbol in the world, a symbol to us of God’s love, forgiveness and redemption, is a miracle in itself. To the ancient Romans and Jews it was a sign of degradation and death. Crucifixion was a death so brutal that it was reserved for only for slaves and conquered peoples. The cross was a terrible thing.

The cross was the means of the suffering and death of the Son of God. And yet it is through the Cross that we are led to eternal life. Death was not the final word; Christ was raised from the dead and ascended in power and glory. As the Church sings in the Introit for the feast of the Holy Cross: “We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered.” This salvation is a wonderful gift, freely won through Christ’s death. But in accepting that gift, we also have to follow Christ’s example. Like the apostles, we are perfectly willing to follow the Lord when the going is easy, when the miracles are happening, the birds are singing, and love is in the air. And then comes the cross, or coronavirus, or darkness, or pain.

When the apostles were challenged to follow our Lord to the Cross, they fled like sheep, as Isaiah prophesied they would. They could only see the Cross as a defeat. But the power of the Resurrection raised them up too, and they brought the message of the Cross and the Resurrection to the whole world.

We are the successors to the disciples. We are the followers of Jesus in 2020. And each one of us is being called to follow him, not only into the presence of God and the glory of heaven, but also to the Cross. Because every one of us is being given a particular cross, and being nailed to it: a cross of betrayal, a cross of persecution, a cross of injustice, a cross of unrequited love, a cross of serious illness of ourselves or those we love, a cross of loneliness following the death of a loved one. And the smaller crosses can be just as painful: an insult or criticism, the reopening of an old wound, the misunderstandings and little conflicts that arise in our families or relationships.

To followers of the Risen Christ, the crucifixion is never the end. The crosses that we find ourselves nailed to will not last forever, because the Lord has united them to his own and suffers with us. The Resurrection that follows crucifixion means a new and glorious life. The cross moves from being a symbol of human cruelty at its worst to a symbol of triumphant victory. It is our way to heaven. We are certainly an Easter People – but only because we are in the first place a People of the Cross. And we embrace that Cross just as we are to embrace the crosses of our own lives.

These reflections are sent out each Wednesday to all those on our mailing list. Enter your e-mail address below to receive our Sunday E-newsletter and these reflections straight to your inbox.

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Tuesday 15 September 2020

Behind the scenes: before the ordination, the bishop blessed the new priest’s vestments.

Almighty everlasting God, who decreed through Moses, your servant, that the vesture of high-priest, priest, and levite, used in fulfilling their ministry in your sight, should be worn to dignify and beautify the worship rendered to your holy name; mercifully heed our prayers, and be pleased, through our lowly ministry, to bless these priestly vestments, bedewing them with your grace, so that they become hallowed and suitable for divine worship and the sacred mysteries. Let every bishop, priest, or deacon clothed in these sacred vestments be strengthened and defended from all assault or temptation of wicked spirits; let them perform and celebrate your mysteries reverently and well; and let them always carry out their ministry in a devout and pleasing manner; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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