Saturday, September 11, 2010

Solemn High Mass at Brinkburn Priory

On Saturday 11th September 2010 about 100 congregation attended the celebration of this Extraordinary Form Solemn High Mass celebrated by Fr Shaun Swales of Coxhoe with Fr David Phillips of Stella as deacon & Fr Michael Brown of Forest Hall as sub deacon. The music for the Ordinary of the Mass - Mass for 4 voices by Thomas Tallis -was provided by The Rudgate Singers of York who also sang the motets 'Adoramus Te Christe' & ' Ave Maris Stella' both by Monteverdi. This being Our Lady's Saturday they ended Mass with the York Salve Regina. The Proper was sung in Gregorian Chant by our own schola from Jarrow. The organist was Peter Lock. A full serving team was led by Leo Darroch with thurifer David O'Neill, acolytes Kenneth Miles & Patrick Talbot. Torchbearers were Keith McAllister & Paul Hammond. Brinkburn Priory was founded as an Augustinian priory by William Bertram, Baron of Mitford, in the reign of Henry I. The exact date is nor known but it cannot have been later than 1135 as Henry died that year. About 1180 Brinkburn became an independant house, & the building of the monastic church was commenced. The priory was never particularly wealthy & it was known to have survived some difficult times. Indeed, as late as 1419, it was raided & robbed. In 1535 the value was recorded as £69 & the priory, having an income of less than £200 per annum, was not finally dissolved until 1536. Before 1700 the roof had collapsed & it was reported to be in a state of decay. In the 1750s Thomas Sharp, Archdeacon of Northumberland, tried to effect repairs but was thwarted by a dispute between the owner, William Fenwick, & the vicar of Felton. In the 19th Century the Cadogan family, owners of Brinkburn, revived the restoration of the church & work began in 1858. The roof was completed in the space of a year & the stained glass windows had been installed by 1864. The furnishing was completed in 1868. The priory is situated between Morpeth & Rothbury in a bend of the River Coquet. A truly idyllic site but not easy to access. Following Mass we had a shared table in the early 19th Century manor house, itself the subject of renovation. The weather was wonderful & all enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in superb countryside. The site comes under the overview of English Heritage who are always most welcoming to our group, for which we thank them.

1 comment:

  1. It was a privilege to serve at such a beautiful Mass, in such beautiful setting.

    I had been hoping and praying beforehand that the task of giving the homily would fall on Fr Michael, who clearly puts great preparation into what he says, and from whom I always learn a few tit-bits.

    Alas, as often is the case at EF Masses, there was no homily. It meant that, for those of us who served and who had forgotten to look up the readings in English beforehand (and who are not fluent in Latin and can't really carry missals around with us in the sanctuary), we were only fed on the Eucharist, and not on the Word. Surely this can't be right?

    To an outsider, the Brinkburn Mass might have seemed just a ritual/concert performance. No wonder there was a need for the Protestant Reformation and for Vatican II. What a shame that we haven't fully learned from these lessons.

    But 3 cheers for Fr Adrian, who clearly has learned, and who can be relied upon to give a homily (and a good one at that), but who also reads the first reading and Gospel in English.

    Many of us had travelled a long way for this special occasion at Brinkburn, and none of us seemed to be in a rush afterwards. So why was there no homily? There was not just 1, but 3 possible priests who could have given one. Hopefully there was a good reason?

    Maybe there was no time to prepare one due to a mix-up or higher priority activity? Or maybe the reasoning was that people would have struggled to hear in such a large venue without amplification? If that's the case, why didn't someone bring a microphone and portable loudspeaker? Moreover, how did priests cope in the past?

    "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16) was the response of my parish priest back at home when I poured out my frustrations about the Brinkburn Mass (and Biddlestone Mass) to him.

    Priests, we need you to feed us on the Word of God. That doesn't mean merely reciting the Bible to us. It means breaking it open and explaining it to us, as Jesus did on the road to Emmaus.

    At weekday Masses, most of us are in a rush, so it is often preferable not to have a homily. But on Saturdays and Sundays, there usually is no good excuse for not having one.

    We don't necessarily need the 45-minute homilies that Protestants, Evangelicals and Pentecostals get; 10 or 15 minutes should suffice. But they should be centered on Jesus Christ, not on the saint of the day. And in both EF and OF Masses, Bishops' letters and missionary appeals should be relegated to the end of Mass, so as to not displace the homily. And, of course, the homily should be given after the Gospel, not before it, as is increasingly the case in OF Masses.

    One of my work colleagues went to Mass on Christmas Day, only to be given a homily about St Francis of Assisi. It was the last straw for him. He is now an Evangelical.

    People have been leaving the Catholic Church in droves (especially in Latin America) to join the Evangelicals and Pentecostals, partly because they're not getting fed on the Word of God in the Catholic Church.

    In the ecumenical prayer group that I have set up at Northern Rock, a number of people are Evangelicals who have left the Catholic Church (and Ampleforth educations, etc.) because they they find they get fed more elsewhere.

    In the case of Angela and I, we have EWTN, DVD's and many books and commentaries to fall back on, to help us with our own reading and listening to the Word of God. But the common person in the pew needs our priests to break open the Word for them, not just at Mass, but in Bible Study groups.

    The only priest I know of in our diocese who provides regular Bible Study classes is Fr Sean Conaty. What are all the other priests doing?