Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Last Margate sunset of 2014

sands enhanced

After a late lunch today, I took the opportunity for a walk up to Fort Hill and then down along the beach at low tide. Because I can.

The better biretta

As it is still very much holiday time, it is only right that we should focus on the more important things in life. Fr Hunwicke has helped us in this respect with a thoughtful and erudite post on Birettas. I must say that although the various birettas that I possess all have pom-poms, I entirely agree with my learned colleague that they are a superfluous piece of frenchification and that the biretta is better without one.

Not only that, but Father makes a solid case for the unpompommed hat being the will of our Holy Father. And as he says
We owe it to him to get our headwear right, whatever the cost, come what may. 
I bought a pack of craft knives from the pound shop recently ...

High Mass in 1944

At one time, the portrayal of Catholic ceremonies in films was generally well researched and accurate. Nowadays, more or less anything goes: perhaps a reflection of the - let us say - creativity in the observance of ceremonial and indeed the latitude allowed in the rules themselves.

Seeing film clips which include parts of the older form of the Roman Rite is fascinating because the ceremonies are exactly the same celebrated today after painstaking study of Fortescue and O'Connell, except that they were usually carried out with greater smoothness and less fuss.

Thanks to Charles Cole at NLM for this beautiful clip of Christmas Midnight High Mass, and for the details supplied as follows:
It is an extract from the 1944 film Christmas Holiday starring Deanna Durbin and shows part of a Christmas Mass. It was filmed at St Vibiana’s, the former Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which was damaged in the Northridge earthquake of 1994 and sold to the city. St Vibiana’s has since been replaced by the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The music in the clip includes Puer natus in Bethlehem, the Kyrie from Licinio Refice’s Missa Choralis and Adeste fideles.
(See: Was Your Christmas Mass Anything Like This?)

The Melodrama Research Group of the University of Kent has an informative summary of their discussion of the film.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas at Margate

Praise the Lord, my holy predecessor left midnight Mass at midnight. A superb young organist put our electronic instrument through its paces and the sung Mass (mostly English but with Mass VIII de angelis for the ordinary) was suitably moving with a full Church and plenty of enthusiastic carol singing.

The above photo was taken on the Tuesday before Christmas, but is not an entirely honest portrait of our current weather. I am regretting a missed photo opportunity since today (a very busy day) I did not get a chance to snap Marine Drive covered in sand after high winds overnight. Perhaps another time before winter is out. One of my parishioners who comes over from the Westbrook side of the parish said that there seemed to be more sand on the road than on the beach.

On St Stephen's day the altar servers turned out in good numbers for the investiture of a new member, and the renewal of their own promises. The Mass was celebrated as an English sung Mass with full ceremonies and a hearty rendition of Good King Wenceslaus as an enthusiastic devotional piece after Mass. Then some eager volunteers peeled several sacks of potatoes in record time to be taken up to Cliftonville for the Open Christmas lunch today.

Fr Holden is my genial neighbour at the gothic (pointy architecture) parish of Ramsgate. I have decided to make the most of the fact that Margate is the oldest Church in Thanet, dating back to the beginning of the end of penal times. Therefore I think that in the respectable north side of Thanet we must hold onto the English baroque tradition, perhaps synthesised appropriately with the early movement towards the pointy stones.

Over the Christmas period, Fr Holden is host to two visiting Dominican priests from the United States Eastern Province, Fathers Aquinas and Austin. Father Austin's visit was a chance for him to visit sites associated with his holy patron.

Foolishly, over an informal supper, I let slip that I was "a bit of a Scotist", forgetting that with young Dominicans, I might as well have said I was a bit of a serial killer. I spent the rest of the evening protesting that Scotist tendencies did not necessarily lead to nominalism. Fr Holden rescued things by taking out a box of Balderdash cards so that we could pit Oxford English deception against Ivy League subtlety (which I pointed out was not exactly Thomist in ethos.) To be fair, honours were equal by the time we had to face the fact that pastoral work must begin again in the morning.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Discovering Sandwich

When your car battery has gone flat and the man comes over with his starter pack, you need to be ready to drive the thing for 20 minutes or so to get the battery properly charged up. I breezily set off for Broadstairs and after five minutes realised that Thanet is quite small and I was almost there. So having been told what a lovely place Sandwich was, I diverted for a pleasant drive with views of Pegwell Bay to the charming Cinq Port. There is parking just by the Quay (above) and it is a short walk to the Guildhall at the centre of town.

The name of the town and the proximity of Ham are obviously tempting for silly humour but those who make a living from visitors need to play it up a bit. So there is the Sandwich shop selling sandwiches:

and a No Name Street with a No Name shop.

So far, I have confined myself largely to Margate with occasional ventures around Thanet because I want to get to know my own parish first of all. The unexpectedly needed trip to travel a little further was most rewarding. And yes, I did have a sandwich.
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