Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Extraordinary (Form) weekend in Rural France: Part III Saturday Afternoon - Holy Hour

A note about photographs:

After Saturday lunch Father took his digital camera out for a ride round the locality. There hadn't been time for photographs of events in the chapel that morning, but I managed one or two with a conventional camera before the Mass. Unfortunately Father left the digital in the car when he came back for the Holy Hour and then because of everything else forgot to bring it in overnight. This affected the quality of the photos he took with it on Sunday morning. But I think they'll come out suffieciently well on the blog to give a fair impression of the chapel. These Sunday shots, about five of them, are of the altar ready for Mass from the body of the chapel; of the altar from the sacristy side; and of the vesting area with the vestments laid out ready for Mass. When Father had set up the altar with candelabra for the Holy Hour and Benediction, I took another couple with the conventioal aparatus.

I did not take photos at any point during the Sacred action. There were three major reasons for this. First the flash of the camera would have been a distraction, second I was too busy concentrating as indicated in the last post, and third I wanted to preserve Father's privacy although he had not asked that I should. This was a cause of great regret but as I'm convinced that this was only the first occasion of many, it was possible, in a tranquil spirit of acceptance, to forgo a detailed record of this first time. However, before I send the film for development, I intend to take a few more, including ones of each of the chasubles worn by Father. These, which belong to the house sacristy, I will put on a hanger and suspend from the beam at the chapel entrance so that their design can be clearly seen. We may have to wait at least a week for these conventional photos to be developed, but we are hoping that Father's digital ones can be posted by Mark before the coming weekend. I'm no Luddite but you all know how useless I am with these technicalities!


It had been quite cool in the chapel in the morning. By the time Mass began it had warmed up a bit but the temperature had become an irrelevance by then. At the Consecration I had been flooded with spiritual and physical warmth, not an unusual response, but this morning there had been another intense joy because I knew that after the Mass Our Lord would remain with us in His Tabernacle for the next twenty four hours. It is not possible to describe my gratitude for those precious hours that lay ahead, the total security, comfort, awe, dread even, that I experienced at the prospect. But perhaps above all it was love that predominated. Never in my life have I welcomed a guest in the way I did this One at this time and in this place. As we left Him and went downstarirs for lunch, I thought, 'The rest of these hours ahead are in His hands. Unless I am struck dead for my temerity, this afternoon I will spend an hour in the light of His Eucharistic Face, together with one of His beloved priests. He, (that is Father), will represent all priests, before Jesus, the High Priest, and it seemed to me, that because Our Lord had willed this to happen, that it was His benison on my offering of myself in spiritual motherhood............


The Holy Hour was about to begin. Father was opening the tabernacle and placing a communion sized consecrated Host into our little monstrance.

'Let all mortal flesh keep silence.'

I'm not sure whether there is any silence so profound yet so charged, as the silence of a Holy Hour.

As at the Mass, one felt suspended, as if time had stood still, or no longer existed, and yet when the Hour ended, it seemed to have lasted only a matter of minutes. I don't wear a watch so can't be sure how the time was apportioned. And yet I must have spent the first 15 minutes in silent adoration, another 10 praying for priests in their different sorts and conditions, then another 20 at least were devoted to the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary for the intentions of our Holy Father. Then another brief period of Adoration. Lastly I reached for my Breviary deciding to catch up with the day's Office of Readings. When Father rose to approach the altar to begin Benediction I had reached the last sentence of the first reading from the Letter of Saint Jude. A year has passed since I last read it, and I had no expectation or memory that it would be so appropriate:

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and bring you faultless and joyful before his glorious presence - to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might, and authority, from all ages past, and now, and forever! Amen."

Benediction came next, followed by the live broadcast from Rome of First Vespers of the first Sunday in Advent presided over by the Holy Father. These DV, will be the subject of my next post. If there are any errors in this post I'll correct them after supper, which I must now prepare!

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