22 SUNDAY Twenty-sixth and last after Pentecost, St Cecilia, Virgin Martyr, double. Second Prayers and Last Gospel of the Sunday. Red. Second Vespers of St Cecilia until the little Chapter thence of St Clement, with commemorations of St Cecilia, the Sunday, and St Felicity, Martyr.
23 Monday. St Clement, Pope Martyr, double. Second prayers of St Felicity, Martyr. Red.
24 Tuesday. St John of the Cross, Confessor, double. Second prayers of St Chrysogonus, Martyr. White.
25 Wednesday. St Catherine, Virgin Martyr, double. Red.
26 Thursday. St Felix of Valois, Confessor, double. Second prayers of St Peter of Alexandria, Pope Martyr. White.
27 Friday. St Gregory Thaumaturges, Bishop Confessor, double. White. Abstinence.
28 Saturday. Vigil. Second prayers for the Dead. Third prayers Concede. Violet. [In Diocese of Beverley, St Francis of Borgia, Confessor, semidouble (transferred from 11 October). Second prayers and Last Gospel of the Vigil. Third prayers Concede. White.]
We have had two Sundays filling in with readings for Sundays after Epiphany, but this is the last Sunday of the year and so the readings are, as they always are on the last Sunday of the year, of the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost. The Collect is "Stir up, we beseech thee", which will launch goodness knows how many Christmas Puddings; in the Epistle St Paul invites us to establish within us, here, the kingdom of God, and in the Gospel Our Lord prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world.
On Saturday we celebrate the Vigil of the feast of St Andrew as a Vigil can't be celebrated on a Sunday. I'm pleased, though, that right at the very, very end, the Diocese of Beverley should be different, catching up with a Feast it missed through celebrating the Octave of the Patronage of the BVM, its diocesan patron. In this calendar everything adds up in the end, but it adds up at the diocesan, not the national, level. To steal a quote (and to annoy any Falangists who care) each diocese is a unit of destiny in the Universe.
Seven years after this Sunday, the first Vatican Council would define the limits of Papal authority, never imagining for a minute that, within a generation, a successor of Peter would consign nineteen centuries of tradition into a dustbin, establishing a pattern which, during the twentieth century, would lead to the demolition of the structure of worship and its replacement with something else. The calendar, just like the rest of the Liturgy, isn't a delicate rose, to be pruned: it is (or was, and should be) a mighty sequoia standing outside, indeed dwarfing human limitations, and lifting every man's eyes upwards (and how far upwards!) towards God. Or at least I, who am not a Pope, think so.
The last parish we shall look at is that of The Immaculate Mother and St Anselm in Whitworth, which is served by the Rev John Millward. Masses on Sunday are at 8.30 and 10.30. Baptisms are at 2.00. Instruction is at 3.30, and Vespers at 6.30. On Holydays Masses are at 5.00 and 8.00, and there is an evening service at 7.30. Weekday Mass is at 8.00. Churching is on Mondays after Mass. On Thursdays, Rosary, Instruction and Benediction is at 7.30. Confessions are on Saturday at 3.30, and for children on Friday evening. The Holy Sacrifice is offered once a week in this Church for its benefactors.
May this parish stand as a type of all the parishes we have looked at during the last year. Its priest will fast from midnight on Saturday until nearly 12.00 on Sunday because he says Masses for his parishioners. He offers them Vespers on Sunday so that they can join in at least part of the Office beyond Mass. He instructs potential converts; he baptises the children of parishioners, and churches their mothers. He offers non-liturgical services, and, perhaps most importantly of all, he makes arrangements to hear their confessions, with particular emphasis on the confessions of children, and remembers the benefactors who make all of this possible by offering Mass for them every week. Here is the outward extension of the local Church which is the Diocese, far from Rome in distance, but teaching and confirming the faithful in their religion, exactly the same religion as was taken from their forefathers four hundred years previously, and using, with a small number of variations, the calendar which had governed the life of that Church throughout the period of the great persecutions of those four centuries. God Bless all good priests, as they are blessed by those whose faith they confirm, and God Bless them for increasing the number of those who have such faith!
I will leave this series with two thoughts: first, the old calendar, the old concept of the calendar, in which the rampant sabbatarianism of the worship of Sundays in the abstract is totally missing, is a better integrated, more human, less didactic, unclericalised, popular way of linking the Church's year to the seasons and to the lives of the faithful.
The second is how much the life of the Church depends on priests in parishes, and on those in religious life who support them, rather than on Bishops, Cardinals, or Popes. If we pray a lot, have lots of children, bring them up in the Faith, and are prepared to give them all to God if they have a call from Him that they will answer positively, we will be able to recreate a Church in England and Wales as holy and fruitful as it was in 1863.