Yesterday, as I was in London for the weekend, my friend and I decided to attend the Corpus Christi procession which was beginning at Farm Street and ending at St. James, Spanish place via the Ukranian Catholic church.
On our way back from Chartres, we had been told of the event and since I don’t believe I had ever taken part in a procession with the Blessed Sacrament, I wanted to go. We were also told that some sort of orthodox/traditional person was organising it, which is primarily why we went. I don’t know how much of a role the Jesuits at Farm Street had in it, but I wouldn’t have been keen to go if I had thought it was all down to them, given the fact that they run an ‘LGBT’ group and a separate ‘trans’ group. I believe that the infamous ‘Soho masses’ are still going on at Farm Street. I don’t know if there has been any progress in that area.
As the time for the procession approached, my friend and I began to worry that it might not have been such a good idea to go. We had suggested to some friends in the morning that they should come with us, but the idea of it involving Farm Street Jesuits put them off. We began to think that maybe we had been a bit naive to trust that the procession wouldn’t involved rainbow flags or some form of blatant heresy. In the end, we made a promise that if we saw anything dodge, we’d run for the hills.
As we were waiting outside, I started to recognise Catholics from other events like 40 Days For Life and Juventutem. We even saw a seminarian in a cassock wearing a bag with a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Oh joy, we were not alone!
As the procession began, I noticed A LOT of women wearing mantillas. I definitely saw more women wearing mantillas on this procession, hosted by a parish which has become famous for flouting Church teaching, than I saw during the whole of the Chartres pilgrimage. Many of these mantilla-clad ladies were young.
I am definitely not an authority when it comes to liturgy, vestments or Latin, but everything seemed pretty good to me. Maybe it was awful for any experts who attended but I never wanted to hang my head in shame, which makes a change from my usual experience of non-traditional Catholic events. As a lay person who loves reverence, it got my approval.
There were some servers dressed in that white monk-style outfit that modern altar servers wear, but everyone else seemed to look lovely and traditional.
Plenty of incense, traditional hymns (many of them in Latin), admittedly we didn’t pray the Rosary, which was a disappointment.
It didn’t have the same ‘feel’ as the traditional Catholic events that I have attended, but that is to be expected. There could have been more kneeling on behalf of the lay people, I think, but that’s just my opinion and we were prompted to kneel and to be silent and so on. I went into Westminster Cathedral’s ‘Blessed Sacrament chapel’ today, but I didn’t notice that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed (because it was exposed above the tabernacle and this was the first time I had ever been to that part of the cathedral). I genuflected instead of kneeling but nobody jumped down my throat. When I noticed my mistake, I was sorry for it but we have to allow that sometimes people make genuine mistakes and not all behaviour that we disapprove of is done because people are lazy. Sometimes it’s done out of ignorance. I’m sure we can all cite many occasions when we didn’t know any better.
I would never ordinarily choose to do anything at Farm Street but yesterday was a rare exception. I was half-expecting heresy 101, but it wasn’t at all. There was some sort of sermon/talk thing at the beginning in the church, where the priest was going on about the usual, “God is so merciful and loving blah blah blah…we’re here to witness to His love”. Nothing about judgment and reparation and all that. Far too serious! Again, I expect that.
It’s good to keep an open mind about these things. I’ll still avoid Jesuits if I possibly can, but it was a lovely, joyous occasion and I’m glad that our worries came to nothing.