Feast of Christ the King

Fr. Glaysher, accompanied by four parishioners from Ryde, was delighted to be present in the cathedral sanctuary on the Feast of Christ the King for Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Rt Rev Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth, presided from the throne and preached the sermon.

Traditional High Mass was the first at the cathedral for four years and joins the weekly Sunday morning Low Mass (8-00am) that has begun at Portsmouth’s mother church in recent weeks. Despite warnings of dire weather conditions and the imminent storm, the Mass was well attended. The celebrant was Fr Phillip Harris, who flew from Jersey at lunchtime especially for the Mass. The deacon was Rev Stephen Morgan, and the sub-deacon was Fr John Maunder of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, based at St Agatha’s, Portsmouth. Music (Gregorian Chant and a polyphonic Communion motet) was provided by the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, directed by Christopher Hodkinson.

Fr. Anthony Glaysher was the bishops assistant at the throne, and Fr. Robert Mercer (Ordinariate) was in the congregation. In addition 15 servers were present in the sanctuary. It was interesting to see that the average age of these servers was late 20s. Whilst at Ryde, I am usually the youngest person for many Latin Masses, on this day I was (I think) the oldest altar server participating. It was also good to see many young people in the congregation, including a good number of Ordinariate folk.

During his sermon, Bishop Egan said that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass was welcome in Portsmouth Diocese where people wished it to be celebrated, and should have its rightful place amongst the liturgical diversity of the diocese.

He also highlighted the importance to the Church’s liturgy in both forms of the Roman Rite of Gregorian Chant and the Latin language; the latter being “a focal point which stresses the universality of the Church”. The bishop then spoke on the subject of the feast of Christ the King, celebrated on that Sunday in the old calendar. “When Pope Pius XI had instituted the feast in 1925, it had been intended as a corrective to the rampant nationalism seen in inter-war Italy. Today, said the bishop, it still has great relevance as a corrective to the rise of secularism in our society. The feast emphasises our belief in Our Blessed Lord as the Son of God. We are His disciples who spread the Word that He Himself taught”. The bishop also mentioned the importance of “the Mass as a Sacrifice; the (unbloodied) Sacrifice on Calvary”.

After Mass, tea was served in the cathedral centre and Bishop Egan stayed to talk with very many members of the congregation.

Everyone present was heartened by Bishop Egan’s words of welcome to those of us who are attached to the Traditional Latin liturgy and by the bishop’s affirmation of its legitimate place within the life of the Catholic Church. The full text of the bishop’s sermon should appear on the Diocesan web site in about a week. Photographs of the High Mass can be seen on this web site. Click here for more.