New guidance has been released by the bishops to reflect the next stage of lockdown easing that begins on Monday 17 May.
From now on, we only need to have stewards on duty for busier Masses on Sundays and Feast days. We are all very grateful to all the volunteers who have made it possible to open the church over the last year.
The church only needs to be cleaned once a day. Again, thank you to everyone who has helped with this after Masses. The Fathers will clean the church at the end of the day before locking the church, which will allow the church to remain open for private prayer after the evening Mass until 7pm, and our opening times can now return to what they were before the start of the pandemic.
Some of the restrictions surrounding distribution of Holy Communion have also been relaxed. We will continue giving Holy Communion as we have been doing for the last few months, but this can now take place in the usual place within Mass.
Use of social distancing measures, masks and hand sanitiser will continue, and congregational singing is not allowed yet. Thank you all for your co-operation and patience with these measures, which have enabled us to keep our church open as much as possible over the last few months.
The novena in preparation for the feast of Our Holy Father St Philip began tonight, and continues each weekday after the evening Mass. #oxfordoratory
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We are looking for an organ scholar to work with our Director of Music and choir, starting from September. This is an exciting opportunity for a suitably skilled organist to contribute to the vibrant musical life of the Oxford Oratory, while gaining experience of the traditional Catholic liturgy and sacred music performed to the highest standards. Full information is available here. Applications must be received no later than Friday 11 June.
‘And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven.’ The Paschal Candle has been a symbol of the risen Christ’s bodily presence among his disciples for 40 days. It is extinguished after the Gospel as he ascends into heaven. #oxfordoratory
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The Oratory School is seeking to appoint for September 2021 a lay man or woman who is in full communion with the Catholic Church and fully in sympathy with the Oratorian ethos to the exciting new post of Coordinator of Spiritual Life. Click here for full information.
What, I wonder, did the apostles expect the day our Lord led them out to the Mount of Olives? One has the impression that, despite the presence of angels, the event passed off rather quietly. There were no shouts of joy and the sound of the trumpet was not heard. Nevertheless, St Luke tells us, the disciples returned to Jerusalem full of joy, burning with the exciting news that the Lord had passed into the heavens. They may yet have had to unpack the full theological significance of what they had just witnessed, but they knew then that it was important, and not a convenient means of providing a glorious exit for a risen, glorified body from the scene.
Yet, despite the joy they were experiencing as a result of Jesus’ departure and his commission to ‘go out and proclaim the gospel’, the apostles did not start out immediately to do this. Instead, they went to Temple in order to praise God, and then to pray with Our Lady in the Upper Room, waiting for the fulfilment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate. They had learned, at last, that nothing of the years spent with the Master, neither the suffering, doubts and surprises surrounding his Passion and Resurrection, nor the promises he made to them in the forty days after that wonderful event, would be wasted.
Had we been there, we might well have been overwhelmed by the sense of loss. “He has gone. He has left us.” Given their past performance, we should not be surprised had we read that the Twelve had felt such sentiments of abandonment and fear, rather as a small child might feel on being sent off on a long journey without its parents, uncertain and perplexed and even afraid. The fact that those men did not go to pieces denotes some growth and maturing in faith and understanding. Pieces of the jig-saw were beginning to fall into place. They rejoiced because they had understood this much; that he was indeed ‘going to prepare a place for them’. As once he had told them that ‘where I am going you cannot come’, now he had made it possible that they could, and would, follow. They understood that he was the Way to the fulness of life in God’s presence, and that that life, which is eternal life, had already begun and that in time, where he, the Head had gone, they, the Body, would follow. The doubts they had experienced on the night of the Master’s arrest and on the day of his death, had been destroyed by the power of the Resurrection. They had found that they really could trust the Lord Jesus, who had clearly demonstrated to them that he was who he said he was and that he always kept his word. The apparent loss of the Ascension teaches us too that our gain is great.
If we feel the loss or absence of Jesus, it is, perhaps, because we want to keep him here — to build for him ‘an abiding city’, a kingdom of this world, a tent to dwell in, like Peter and his friends on the Mount of the Transfiguration. But we can’t. Like him, we must move on, fulfilling and finishing our journey here. There are disappointments and tragedies, as there are triumphs and delightful surprises. I suppose our motto should “Excelsior! Onward and upward!” We don’t always see the good we do or the fruit of our commitment. How many of the saints saw nothing but their failures, while we see with the benefit of hindsight their successes.
The Ascension is truly a glorious mystery, though the glory may not be wholly apparent from where we stand. All we may see is the departure and the resulting absence — but from God’s angle, it is surely very different and that is the viewpoint we must seek to capture, if we can, by faith. The glory of this event and which we celebrate liturgically is not here, it is in heaven where our hearts are supposed to be fixed. In Christ, our humanity has found its home, once more, with God — in the bosom of the Father. Certainly there should be shouts of joy and as for trumpets blasting out the good news, why not?
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.
“Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Our new range of cards feature designs scanned from images in our archives, plus newly illustrated maxims from St Philip. Buy them when the Lodge is open, Monday to Friday 10:30–6pm. #oxfordoratory
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