The Diocesan Liturgy Office, working under the auspices of the Department of Adult Education and Evangelisation, is tasked by our bishop with implementing the vision of the Liturgy Constitution of the Second Vatican Council and all subsequent liturgical documents. To this end the Liturgy Office will provide formation, support and development to the liturgical life of our parishes, schools and institutions. We strive to promote further understanding in the areas of liturgical prayer, the sacraments, liturgical music and space, as well as to provide educational opportunities for the development of all liturgical ministers. As part of the work of the Adult Education Department, we seek to develop ongoing formation in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and the Liturgy of the Word for Children.The Liturgy Office is also responsible for advising the bishop and our parishes on matters of Liturgical Art and Architecture – building, re-ordering, alterations and additions and artistic commissions – for all churches of the Diocese.
We are here to support individuals, parishes and communities in everything that enables them to be more fully a Church of deepened prayer – so if there’s anything that might support you and your parish in its celebration of the liturgy, please do get in touch.
The Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales Liturgy Office has prepared Prayers for use during a time of ‘flu and illness. This contains general prayers for health and also a note about Spiritual Communion and praying during Self-Isolation. You can access their page here.
Please see the latest newsletter below.
Tel: 0117 902 5595
160 Pennywell Road,
Bristol, BS5 0TX
Click on a link below for Liturgical information and resources:
Feasts, Saints and Seasons:
- Being Present
- Keeping Silence
Rites & Blessings
- Advent Carol Liturgy
- Advent O Antiphon Liturgy
- Advent O Antiphon Liturgy – Booklet
- Bambinelli Sunday
- Los Posadas
- Order of the blessing of as Advent Wreath
- Suggested Hymns and Readings before Midnight Mass
- The Epiphany Proclamation
- Easter Announcement Music File
- Blessing of Homes on the Epiphany
- Epiphany Carol Liturgy
Lent and Easter
Year A Advent/Christmastide
Year A Lent / Eastertide
Year A Ordinary Time
Other Solemnities and Feasts
Year B Lent / Eastertide
Year B Ordinary Time
Other Solemnities and Feasts
Year C Advent/Christmastide
Year C Lent / Eastertide
Year C Ordinary Time
Other Solemnities and Feasts
The following links are offered as a resource to all who are involved in liturgical ministry. The links given below were accurate at the time of going to print.
GENERAL LITURGY RESOURCES
Congregation for Divine Worship and the discipline of the Sacraments (Vatican).
The Department for Christian Life and Worship
of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Offers a number of free to use hymns, prayers, pictures etc
The Pastoral Liturgy Magazine
Worship is an ecumenical journal devoted to the study of liturgical theology and practice.
Sacred Music is the official journal of the Church Music Association of America
The Society of Saint Gregory. Music and Liturgy Journal is produced by the society. A useful
resource for music planning.
The Society for Catholic Liturgy is committed to promoting scholarly study and practical
renewal of the Church’s liturgy.
Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy.
This website contains a variety of materials, mostly related to biblical and liturgical studies.
LITURGICAL PLANNING & MUSIC
This website features free, downloadable communion antiphons for all liturgical year cycles
to be used at Sunday and Holy Day Masses.
A large collection of resources including music and hymn suggestions for Sundays and
holydays in keeping with the lectionary.
Centre for Liturgy at St Louis University. Excellent weekly resources including good
Universal Prayers (Prayer of the Faithful)
National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Music for the Liturgy.
Responsorial Psalm settings for the liturgical year. The site includes free printable music for
organ and cantor and audio files. A Very useful for new cantors.
Traditional music for the Contemporary Church. Planning, resources and hymns.
A good resource for the liturgical year: prayers, meditations. Good non-Eucharistic material.
LITURGY OF THE WORD
Help for those who proclaim the Word at Mass
Liturgy Alive. Good resources for the Mass including Prayer of the Faithful for each Sunday.
Online study Bible with different translations and search
An excellent resource from Salford Diocese including notes for readers for each Sunday of the year.
CHILDREN’S LITURGY OF THE WORD
Guidelines and ministry leaflets for Masses and Liturgy of the Word with children
Music for CLOW
LITURGY OF THE HOURS
Mass Readings / Calendar/ Liturgy of the Hours -also phone app for hours. Grail translation
of psalms available together with some English diocesan calendars.
Association for Latin liturgy
Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form)
Liturgy Office Summer 2020
Perhaps this newsletter should be entitled the ‘Butterfly’ newsletter, rather than simply the Summer newsletter, as we find ourselves gradually emerging into the light from the dark cocoon of Covid in which we have all found ourselves in recent months. Indeed, we have had to remind ourselves, at times, that ‘life is changed, not ended’ as we have endured the seemingly endless weeks and months of lockdown. As we now take a few tentative steps forward, it is good to reflect on how our experience, perhaps even our understanding, of Liturgy has changed in recent months. Some of us have been able to experience a variety of livestreamed Masses, Prayer of the Church, Rosary and other liturgies during this time and while ‘full, conscious and active participation’ may have been difficult, we have been able to keep ‘connected’ – to our faith, to Christ and to our parish communities. Now we can move forward and celebrate together in our churches, but only under strict conditions which our priests have to manage for us, so we will need to exercise patience for a little longer. It is important to remember, however, that, at the time of writing, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended.
During this period of lockdown, many people have found other ways of being Church, sometimes without even realising it. There have been so many wonderful stories of people donning their own ‘vestments’ of face-masks and aprons in order to check up on neighbours or do their shopping, to make up/deliver food parcels, medicines and other essentials. Some have exercised a ministry of hospitality by spending time on the phone with those who are lonely, ill, bereaved or alone. All these, and many others, are wonderful examples of being Church and it would be good to try to hold on to this as we tentatively ease ourselves out of lockdown and, hopefully, can once again physically receive Christ in the Eucharist – which strengthens us to go out and be Christ for others.
Here in the Liturgy Office, we have been busy ensuring that there are a number of resources online for those who wish to use them. Recently we have included some of the ‘Adoremus’ resources under the ‘Further Resources tab’ here as an aid to quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. While we don’t want to spend our time in church with our nose in a phone, when paper resources aren’t available, these can help. A number of helpful resource materials can also be found under the ‘Useful Links’ tab above this newsletter, and if there are any particular resources that you would find helpful, please do let us know.
We have included a couple of longer articles for this newsletter. We are very blessed to have a number of canonised saints who are closely associated with our diocese, so we are taking this opportunity to give a slightly fuller hagiography for each in addition to the brief one that you find in the Liturgical Diary. We have also included an article on our July devotion to the Precious Blood and one on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which we celebrate each August.
Click here for a printable version of this newsletter.
First Holy Communion, Confirmations and Reception into the Church
It has been a sadness for many that our plans, particularly for celebrations such as First Holy Communion, Confirmations and Reception into the Church, have had to be put on hold. It is, of course, up to individual parish priests, together with catechists, to decide when these might now take place. Understandably, some may want to hold the celebrations as soon as possible, albeit it in a more limited way, but many are waiting until next year because of the desire for there to be a full celebration, when we can sing etc, in a full church with the whole of the community present. Whilst to delay may feel frustrating it does gives people the chance really to reflect on the great gift we receive on these occasions and can also help our children and young people to have a deeper understanding of this.
19 January – St Wulstan
Wulstan (1008-1095), also called Wulfstan and Wolstan, was a Bishop and reformer. Born at Long-Itchington, Warwickshire, England, he studied at the abbeys of Evesham and Peterborough, received ordination, and joined the Benedictines at Worcester where he became prior. Wulstan served as treasurer of the church at Worcester, was prior of the monastery, and finally was named bishop of Worcester in 1062. After overcoming initial doubts about his ability to hold the office of bishop, he demonstrated such skill after the Norman Conquest that he was the lone bishop to be kept in his post by William the Conqueror (r. l066-l087). A social reformer, Wulfstan struggled to bridge the gap between the old and new regimes, and to alleviate the suffering of the poor. He was a strong opponent of the slave trade, and together with Lanfranc, was mainly responsible for ending the trade from Bristol. For the next three decades, Wulstan rebuilt his cathedral, cared for the poor, and struggled to alleviate the harsh decrees of the Normans upon the vanquished Saxons.
He founded the Great Malvern Priory and undertook much large-scale rebuilding work, including Worcester Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral, Tewkesbury Abbey, and many other churches in the Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester areas. After the Norman Conquest, he claimed that the Oswaldslow, a “triple hundred” administered by the bishops of Worcester, was free of interference by the local sheriff. This right to exclude the sheriff was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. Wulstan also administered the diocese of Lichfield when it was vacant between 1071 and 1072. He re-founded the monastery at Westbury-on-Trym and is the patron saint of vegetarians. He was canonized in 1203.
19 April – St Alphege
Archbishop and “the First Martyr of Canterbury”, he was born in 953 and became a monk in the Deerhurst Monastery in Gloucester, England, asking after a few years to become a hermit. He received permission for this vocation and retired to a small hut near Somerset. In 984 Alphege assumed the role of abbot of the abbey of Bath, founded by St. Dunstan and by his own efforts. Many of his disciples from Somerset joined him at Bath. In that same year, Alphege succeeded Ethelwold as bishop of Winchester. He served there for two decades, famed for his care of the poor and for his own austere life. King Ethelred the Unready used his abilities in 994, sending him to mediate with invading Danes. The Danish chieftain Anlaf converted to Christianity as a result of his meetings with Alphege, although he and the other chief, Swein, demanded tribute from the Anglo-Saxons of the region. Anlaf vowed never to lead his troops against Britain again. In 1005 Alphege became the successor to Aelric as the Archbishop of Canterbury, receiving the pallium in Rome from Pope John XVIII.
He returned to England in time to be captured by the Danes pillaging the southern regions. The Danes besieged Canterbury and took Alphege captive. The ransom for his release was about three thousand pounds and went unpaid. Alphege refused to give the Danes that much, an act which infuriated them. He was hit with an axe and then beaten to death. Revered as a martyr, Alphege’s remains were placed in St. Paul’s Church in London. The body, moved to Canterbury in 1023, was discovered to be incorrupt in 1105. Relics of St. Alphege are also in Bath, Glastonbury, Ramsey, Reading, Durham, Yorkminster and in Westminster Abbey. His emblem is an axe, and he is depicted in his pontifical vestments or as a shepherd defending his flock.
19 May – St Dunstan
Born of a noble family at Baltonsborough, near Glastonbury, Dunstan was educated there by Irish monks and, while still a youth, was sent to the court of King Athelstan. He became a Benedictine monk about 934 and was ordained by his uncle, St. Alphege, Bishop of Winchester, about 939. After a time as a hermit at Glastonbury, Dunstan was recalled to the royal court by King Edmund, who appointed him Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey in 943. He developed the Abbey into a great centre of learning while revitalising other monasteries in the area. He became advisor to King Edred on his accession to the throne when Edmund was murdered and began a far-reaching reform of all the monasteries in Edred’s realm. Dunstan also became deeply involved in secular politics and incurred the enmity of the West Saxon nobles for denouncing their immorality and for urging peace with the Danes. When Edwy succeeded his uncle Edred as king in 955, he became Dunstan’s bitter enemy for the Abbot’s strong censure of his scandalous lifestyle. Edwy confiscated his property and banished him from his kingdom.
Dunstan went to Ghent in Flanders but soon returned when a rebellion replaced Edwy with his brother Edgar, who appointed Dunstan Bishop of Worcester and London in 957. When Edwy died in 959, the civil strife ended and the country was reunited under Edgar, who appointed Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury. The king and archbishop then planned a thorough reform of Church and state. Dunstan was appointed legate by Pope John XII, and with St. Ethelwold and St. Oswald, restored ecclesiastical discipline, rebuilt many of the monasteries destroyed by the Danish invaders, replaced inept secular priests with monks, and enforced the widespread reforms they put into effect. Dunstan served as Edgar’s chief advisor for sixteen years and did not hesitate to reprimand him when he thought it was deserved. When Edgar died, Dunstan helped elect Edward the martyr king and then his half-brother Ethelred when Edward died soon after his election. Under Ethelred Dunstan’s influence began to wane and he retired from politics to Canterbury to teach at the Cathedral school and died there. Dunstan has been called the reviver of monasticism in England. He was a noted musician, played the harp, composed several hymns, notably Kyrie Rex splendens, was a skilled metal worker, and illuminated manuscripts. He is the patron of armourers, goldsmiths, locksmiths, and jewellers.
24 May – St Aldhelm
Aldhelm was born in Wessex in 639. When he was a young boy, he was sent to Canterbury to be educated under Adrian, Abbot of St Augustine’s, and had soon impressed his teachers with his skill in the study of Latin and Greek literature. He returned to Wessex some years later and joined the community of monks in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. He embraced the monastic life and, in 680, became the monks’ teacher. His excellent reputation spread far and wide, and scholars from France and Scotland came to learn from him. By this time, Aldhelm is said to have spoken and written fluent Latin and Greek and was able to read the Old Testament in Hebrew. He wrote poetry, composed music and sang – King Alfred the Great placed him in the first rank of poets in the country and his ballads were popular even as late as the 12th Century. Aldhelm excelled at playing many different instruments, including the harp, fiddle and pipes.
In 683, Aldhelm was appointed Abbot of Malmesbury. Under his leadership, the Abbey continued to be a seat of learning and was given many gifts from kings and nobles. Aldhelm enlarged the monastery at Malmesbury and built the Church of St Peter and St Paul. He founded monasteries in Frome and Bradford-on-Avon, where he also built St Laurence’s Church which still stands today. During his time as Abbot, Aldhelm noticed that, instead of attending to the monks at Mass, the local people preferred to spend their time gossiping and could not be persuaded to listen to the preacher. So, one day, he stationed himself on a bridge, like a minstrel, and began to sing his ballads. The beauty of his verse attracted a huge crowd and, when he had caught their attention, he began to preach the Gospel
In 705, the Bishopric of Wessex was split into two dioceses and Aldhelm was made Bishop of Sherborne. In his time as bishop, he rebuilt the church at Sherborne and helped to establish a nunnery at Wareham. He also built churches at Langton Matravers and the Royal Palace at Corfe.
On 25th May 709, just four years after his consecration, Aldhelm died at Doulting in Somerset. His funeral procession travelled 50 miles from Doulting to Malmesbury and stone crosses were planted at 7-mile intervals, to mark each place where his body rested for the night. Today we celebrate 25 May, the date of Aldhelm’s death, as a feast day to remember the first Bishop of Sherborne – a true evangelist and an inspiring Saint.
1 July – Oliver Plunkett
Oliver Plunkett was born in Loughcrew in County Meath, Ireland on November 1, 1629. In 1647, he went to study for the priesthood in the Irish College in Rome. On January 1, 1654, he was ordained a priest in the Propaganda College in Rome. Due to religious persecution in his native land, it was not possible for him to return to minister to his people. Oliver taught in Rome until 1669, when he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland. Archbishop Plunkett soon established himself as a man of peace and, with religious fervour, set about visiting his people, establishing schools, ordaining priests, and confirming thousands.
1673 brought a renewal of religious persecution, and bishops were banned by edict. Archbishop Plunkett went into hiding, suffering a great deal from cold and hunger. His many letters showed his determination not to abandon his people, but to remain a faithful shepherd. He thanked God ‘who gave us the grace to suffer for the chair of Peter.’ The persecution eased a little and he was able to move more openly among his people. In 1679 he was arrested and falsely charged with treason. The government in power could not get him convicted at his trial in Dundalk. He was brought to London and was unable to defend himself because he was not given time to bring his own witnesses from Ireland. He was put on trial, and with the help of perjured witnesses, was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. With deep serenity of soul, he was prepared to die, calmly rebutting the charge of treason, refusing to save himself by giving false evidence against his brother bishops. Oliver Plunkett publicly forgave all those who were responsible for his death on July 1, 1681. On October 12, 1975, he was canonized a saint. His feast day is 1 July; he was the last to be martyred in England. His body rests at Downside.
17 September – Edith
St. Edith of Wilton was the illegitimate daughter of King Edgar the Peaceable, born AD 961 at Kemsing in Kent. Her mother was St. Wulfthrith, a nun of noble birth, whom Edgar forcibly carried off from her monastery at Wilton. Under St. Dunstan’s direction, he did penance for this crime by not wearing his crown for seven years. As soon as Wulfthrith could escape from him, she returned to her cell and, there, Edith was brought up. Educated with great care, she became a wonder of beauty, learning and piety. After his wife’s death, Edgar would have married Wulfthrith, but she preferred to remain a nun at Wilton. Edith took the veil very early, with her father’s consent. He made her abbess of three different communities, but she chose to remain under her mother at Wilton, where she was a Martha with regard to her sister nuns, and a Mary in her devotion to Christ.
In AD 979 Edith dreamt that she lost her right eye and knew the dream was sent to warn her of the death of her brother, who, in fact, was murdered at that very time, while visiting his step-mother, Queen Aelfthritha, at Corfe Castle in Dorset. The nobles then offered the crown to Edith, but she declined. Notwithstanding her refusal of all Royal honours and worldly power, she always dressed magnificently and, as St. Aethelwold remonstrated, she answered that purity and humility could exist as well under Royal robes as under rags. She built a church at Wilton and dedicated it in the name of St. Denis. St. Dunstan was invited to the dedication and wept much during Mass. Being asked the reason, he said it was because Edith would die in three weeks, which actually happened, on 15 September AD 984.
A month afterwards, she appeared in glory, to her mother, and told her the devil had tried to accuse her but she had broken his head. Many years after, King Canute laughed at the idea that the daughter of the licentious Edgar could be a saint. St Dunstan took her out of her coffin and set her upright in the church, whereupon Canute was terrified, and fell down in a faint. He had a great veneration for St. Edith ever after.
16 November – Edmund of Abingdon
St Edmund Rich was born at St Edmund’s Lane, Abingdon, on 20 November, probably in the year 1175. His father was a rich merchant, hence the surname (which he never in fact used himself). Under the influence of his mother he led an ascetic life. He studied at Oxford and Paris, and became a teacher in about 1200 or a little earlier. For six years he lectured on mathematics and dialectics, apparently dividing his time between Oxford and Paris, and winning distinction for his part in introducing the study of Aristotle. He is the first known Oxford Master of Arts, and the place where he taught was eventually renamed St Edmund Hall.
Between 1205 and 1210 he changed direction, studying theology and being ordained a priest. He took a doctorate in divinity, and soon won fame as a lecturer on theology and as an extemporaneous preacher. Sometime between 1219 and 1222 he was appointed vicar of the parish of Calne in Wiltshire and Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral, and finally became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1233. He was a notable and effective reforming Bishop. His love for discipline and justice aroused opposition, and he found himself ranged against Rome as champion of the national Church. Eventually, like his predecessors St Thomas Becket and Stephen Langton, he retired to Pontigny, where he is buried. He died at Soisy-Bouy on 16 November 1240.
Devotion to him was especially marked at Abingdon, and at Catesby where his sisters were both nuns. Edmund was canonised in 1246 and is the Joint-Principal Patron of the Diocese of Portsmouth.
He is venerated as a vigorous and reforming bishop and as a peacemaker, as well as being a distinguished commentator on the Scriptures and an effective spiritual writer.
17 November – St Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln was the son of William, Lord of Avalon. He was born at Avalon Castle in Burgundy and was raised and educated at a convent at Villard-Benoit after his mother died when he was eight. He was professed at fifteen, ordained a deacon at nineteen, and was made prior of a monastery at Saint-Maxim. While visiting the Grande Chartreuse with his prior in 1160. It was then he decided to become a Carthusian there and was ordained. After ten years, he was named procurator and in 1175 became Abbot of the first Carthusian monastery in England. This had been built by King Henry II as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket.
His reputation for holiness and sanctity spread all over England and attracted many to the monastery. He admonished Henry for keeping Sees vacant to enrich the royal coffers – income from the vacant Sees went to the royal treasury. He was then named bishop of the 18 year old vacant See of Lincoln in 1186 – a post he accepted only when ordered to do so by the prior of the Grande Chartreuse. Hugh quickly restored clerical discipline, laboured to restore religion to the diocese, and became known for his wisdom and justice.
He was one of the leaders in denouncing the persecution of the Jews that swept England, 1190-91, repeatedly facing down armed mobs and making them release their victims. He went on a diplomatic mission to France for King John in 1199, visiting the Grande Chartreuse, Cluny, and Citeaux, and returned from the trip in poor health. A few months later, while attending a national council in London, he was stricken and died at the Old Temple in London on 16 November. He was canonized by Pope Honorius III on 18 February 1220, the first Carthusian to be so honoured.
Hugh’s main emblem is a white swan, in reference to a swan with whom he had a deep and lasting friendship. According to the story, the swan would even guard Hugh while he slept.
1 December – St Alexander Briant
St Alexander Briant was an English Jesuit born in Somerset on 17 August 1556 and he entered Hart Hall, Oxford (now Hertford College), at an early age. While there, he became a pupil of Father Robert Parsons and he completed his studies with him at Balliol College which, along with his association with Richard Holtby, led to his conversion. After leaving university, he entered the English College at Reims, then went to the English College, Douai, and was ordained priest on 29 March 1578. Assigned to the English mission in August of the following year, he laboured with zeal in his own county of Somerset.
A party of the persecution, searching for Father Parsons, placed Alexander Briant under arrest on 28 April 1581. Arrested along with Briant was Gilbert Bodey, brother of John Bodey. Gilbert Bodey was scourged at Bridewell and afterwards confined to Counter Prison. He was released on bond, and when not called to appear, escaped to Rheims.
In the hope of extorting information, Briant was sent to the Counter. After fruitless attempts to this end, he was taken to the Tower of London where he was subjected to torture. It was during this confinement that Briant penned his letter to the Jesuit Fathers in England requesting admission into the Society, which was granted. He was arraigned with six other priests on 16 November 1581 in Queen’s Bench, Westminster, on the charge of high treason, and condemned to death. In his letter to the Jesuit Fathers he says that he felt no pain during the various tortures he underwent and adds: “Whether this that I say be miraculous or no, God knoweth.” He was twenty-five years old when he was executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 1 December 1581. Through either malice or carelessness of the executioner he was put to needless suffering. Edmund Campion and Ralph Sherwin were also executed with him.
Alexander Briant was declared venerable on 8 December 1921 by Pope Pius XI and beatified one week later on 15 December. Blessed Alexander Briant was canonized nearly forty-nine years later in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales with a common feast day of 25 October. His individual feast day is celebrated on 1 December, the day of his martyrdom.
4 December – St Osmund
The son of a Norman count, Henry of Seez, Osmund came to England in the wake of William the Conqueror, his mother’s half-brother. He became William’s chaplain until he was promoted to chancellor in 1072, obtaining in this office useful experience as an administrator. In 1078 he succeeded Herman as bishop of Salisbury, a See that had been formed by uniting the dioceses of Sherborne and Ramsbury. The episcopal seat for the new diocese was at Old Sarum, where the cathedral was built in the same enclosure as the royal castle. Osmund completed and consecrated this cathedral and formed a chapter with its own constitution which became a model of other English cathedrals. The Sarum Use, a local variation of the Roman rite which became widespread in medieval England and on which the first Book of Common Prayer (1549) was based, has been associated with Osmund, but it reached its definitive form under Richard le Poore, bishop of Salisbury from 1198 to 1228.
Osmund was known for his administration and for his scholarship. He had a great love for books and liked to copy them himself and to bind them with his own hands. According to the chronicler William of Malmesbury he was known not only for his learning but also for his purity, for his strictness with himself and with others, and for a commendable lack of avarice and ambition at a time when these traits were common in Church and State. Osmund also promoted the veneration of Aldhelm, the Anglo-Saxon abbot of Malmesbury and bishop of Sherborne, accomplishing the translation of his relics to Old Sarum in 1078. This event marked the end of the period in which Aldhelm and other Anglo-Saxon saints had been under attack by the Normans and by Archbishop Lanfranc.
Osmund’s appointment to the See of Salisbury did not bring to an end his part in the administration of the kingdom, and he took part in collecting the information for William’s Domesday Book. He was present at the council of Sarum when, in April 1986, the results of the Domesday survey were presented to the king. He died on 4 December 1099 and was buried in his cathedral at Old Sarum. In 1226 his body and its tomb were translated to the new cathedral of Salisbury, a few miles away from Old Sarum. This translation is commemorated on July 16. Canonized in 1457 by Pope Callistus III, he was the last English person to be declared a saint until the canonization of Ss Thomas More and John Fisher in 1935.
July – the Month of devotion to the Precious Blood
One particular devotion in the Catholic Church connected to the Passion of Jesus Christ is the honouring of his Precious Blood. It is a recognition of Jesus’ sacrifice and how he spilled his blood for the salvation of humanity. Furthermore, this blood is made present through the gift of the Eucharist and is something we can consume at Mass, along with the body of Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine.
Over time the Church developed various feasts of the Precious Blood, but it wasn’t until the 19th century when a universal feast was established. During the First Italian War for Independence in 1849, Pope Pius IX went into exile to Gaeta. He went there with Don Giovanni Merlini, third superior general of the Fathers of the Most Precious Blood. While the war was still raging, Merlini suggested to Pope Pius IX that he create a universal feast to the Precious Blood to beg God’s heavenly aid to end the war and bring peace to Rome. Pius IX subsequently made a statement on 30 June 1849 that he intended to create a feast in honour of the Precious Blood. The war soon ended and he returned to Rome shortly thereafter. On 10 August he made it official and proclaimed that the first Sunday in July will be dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. Later, Pope Pius X assigned 1 July as the fixed date of this celebration.
After Vatican II the feast was removed from the calendar, but a votive Mass in honour of the Precious Blood was established and can be celebrated in the month of July (as well as most other months of the year). For these reasons the entire month of July is traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood, and Catholics are encouraged to meditate on the profound sacrifice of Jesus and the pouring out of his blood for humanity.
Below is the opening prayer of the votive Mass, as well as an additional prayer that can be used as our own personal meditation or prayer during July.
O God, who by the Precious Blood of your Only Begotten Son have redeemed the whole world,
preserve in us the work of your mercy,
so that, ever honouring the mystery of our salvation,
we may merit to obtain its fruits.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Admitted to your sacred table, O Lord, we have with joy drawn water from the fountains of the Saviour: O may his blood, we beseech thee, become within us a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
One of the great feasts we celebrate during the summer months is the Solemnity of the Assumption – 15 August. It’s a feast that celebrates our faith in Mary being assumed body and soul into heaven. So much of what we believe about this feast comes not from the Scriptures but from the narrative of faith and the unfolding of faith and belief, handed on through Tradition. So much of the narrative of this feast is held in the Golden Legend, a beautiful medieval handbook of the lives of the saints and the stories of faith. Behind every legend there is, of course, a lesson.
Maybe it’s not so important for us to get bogged down with the detail of what happened at the Assumption, as if we have to scrutinise every aspect of the narrative. It’s more important for us to ask why? Why was Mary assumed into Heaven? Why did God bestow this honour upon her? More often than not Mary gives us opportunity to understand more about her Son as we contemplate her. The Assumption speaks to us – not simply of the end of Mary’s life – but of the gift of Redemption and Salvation flowing from the Resurrection of her Son, Jesus. And, of course, what is pondered in Mary and reveals something to us of Christ, what is pondered in Mary, also speaks to what is to become of us who follow her Son. In the Assumption Mary, surely, receives something of the glory of the Resurrection and the life won for us because of the Paschal Mystery. She is a recipient of the fruits of her Son’s Resurrection. God would not allow decay to touch her body for she had given birth to the Incarnate Word of God. Because Mary had sheltered the God who embraces our humanity in the wonder of the Incarnation, so now God embraces Mary in the wonder of the Resurrection. As the Ark of God’s new Covenant and as the Shelter of God’s Word, Mary was ‘rescued’ from the effects of sin and death and drawn into the life of the redeemed as her life came to its most natural conclusion. Just as sin and death entered our world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, so the New Adam restores life in his obedience to God’s will… and just as every Adam needs his Eve, so every new Adam needs his new Eve – Mary. Immaculately conceived and freed from the taint of sin, Mary’s yes opens up the way for salvation to enter into our world in the birth of Christ the Lord. Does it not follow then that, if Mary follows her Son in life, she was also to follow him through death into the glory of the Resurrection? And surely the Assumption cannot be seen as a mystery separated from the wonder of the Easter story.
But Mary speaks of a glory that await us, too. She leads the way for humanity to hope that God will remain faithful to his promise and his word. I can remember reading a reflection on the Assumption in Priest and People written by a priest I studied alongside at Oscott. He reminded me of something from my childhood – Blue Peter. Presenters would make the latest accessory to the doll’s house or toy box out of all kinds of leftovers bound together by cellotape and sticky back plastic. The great phrase was here’s one I made earlier as there was little time to show every aspect of the construction. What the Father reveals to us in Mary is what we are called to be. She is for us the model and pattern of all those who belong to her Son, the model of all who are redeemed by her Son and glory bound. The Assumption gives us a glimpse of what will become of us when our pilgrimage of life is completed. We are destined for heaven and destined to share in the wonder, the glory and the fruits of her Son’s resurrection. Her Assumption shows us what will become of us when we breathe our last. We may not be assumed into the glory of Heaven, but heaven is where we are bound. This is shown in the readings we reflect upon for this Solemnity (and don’t forget there are two sets of readings: one for the Vigil Mass and one for the Mass of the day). Paul in his letter to the Corinthians speaks of death being swallowed up in victory (1Cor 15:54-57) and, in the reading from the Mass of the day (1Cor 15:20-26), Paul reflects that Christ is the first fruits and then all who belong to him will be brought to life in him. This is the Assumption’s promise – Mary sharing in the fruits of her Son’s resurrection and Mary pointing the way for what will become of us if we follow her Son, if we hope in her Son, if we remain faithful to her Son. Mary shows us what will become of a humanity that opens itself up to the promise of God and the yes of God to humanity in Jesus. As Mary believes that the promises of God would come to fruition – her hope and her faith that God is true to his word – so, maybe, the Assumption calls us and invites us to hope still. The Resurrection is not just simply a carrot dangled before us. The Resurrection is a promise that God, not death or sin or decay or corruption, has the final word. In Mary’s Assumption God is true to his word and true to the promise made in the Resurrection of Christ. What becomes of Christ, what becomes of Mary because of the Resurrection, will become of us. All we have to do is hear the word of God… and keep it! (Lk 11:28)
Art & Architecture
The Art & Architecture committee has been working on some guidelines for the installation and use of Visual Display systems in churches. These can be found on our section of the diocesan website here with an appendix showing the types of A/V equipment and their suitability here.
Please do remember to contact the Liturgy Office if you are thinking of using/installing any such equipment.