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Archive for the ‘vocation’ Category

The Dominicans baffle me. I have heard some very good things about them during the last year or so, one of their number was highly praised by a friend in Leicestershire for his devout celebration of Mass – in the old form of course. Another one is the chaplain to the Society of Saint Gregory the Great, the Finnish Latin Mass Society. Yet a third skillfully refuted the atheist ramblings in Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, the billboard makers that sold Dawkins and told you to “join the debate” chose to make it a monologue and never advertised the refutations, as one could expect. Beginning on the real Corpus Christi and ending on Sunday they have the Quarant’ Ore (40 hours devotion)- at least at the priory in London.

Now, some of the readers here know that I’m discerning a vocation to the priesthood, at the least my post about visiting the seminary should have made that clear. Following a recommendation from someone who encouraged me to get in touch with the Order of Preachers I went up to St Dominic’s Priory at Southampton road here in London the other day. Mass was pretty mainstream; altargirls(poorly trained), something that definitely wasn’t the Roman Canon, an Altar facing the wrong way, communion in the hand, Eucharistic monsters handling the chalice .. However, the music was fairly good -gregorian- despite several choir members being on pilgrimage to Walsingham. The priests seemed sound enough in a conservative, NO sort of way, until full of enthusiasm one of them told me about the upcoming visit to Blackfriars Hall in Oxford (their house of study) by none other than the Dalai Lama. The mixed messages leave me scratching my head in some confusion as to what to think about them.

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There was once the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence by visiting a seminary. No more. Regardless of that the vocations weekend at Allen Hall, the seminary for the diocese of Westminster, was a grace filled time. That it was placed at the beginning of the Novena to the Holy Ghost might have helped. We had a lovely time of sharing our stories with each others and his lordship bishop Longley, one of the auxillary bishops of the archdiocese. There was also a time set apart for speaking with some of the seminarians. To end the first day there was a get-together in the seminary pub. This gathering gave us, well me and one of the others, a happy surprise as three mutual friend turned up – one of which is beginning his studies at the seminary in September.

I spoke a bit with the philosophy professor, trying to find out about the level of the studies and was told that all the academics they teach in the seminary itself is the first two years of philosophy. The theology is all handled by Heythrop College – the philosophy and theology college attached to the University of London. I can say nothing of Heythrop save that the staff seem to have a generous sprinkling of Jesuits.

The lifestyle of the seminary seems rather relaxed and unlike the last seminary I visited there is no specific dress code. This is reflected at Mass as well; jeans, T-shirts and sneakers. The Saturday evening Mass was the main disappointment at the place There was a coffee-table-altar, a JPII size Host for the main celebrant and the rest of what you might expect, up to and including questionable music.

All in all the hospitality was great and the atmosphere Grace filled. It leaved me inspired to pursue a vocation to the priesthood but unconvinced as to where Allen Hall fits in.

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I’m of to the seminary this Saturday morning for the annual vocations weekend. Fr Viper, the vocations director for the archdiocese of Westminster tells me there will be about fifteen of us staying at Allen Hall over the weekend. I know of at least one other of these but the rest are unknown and will be interesting to meet. So, prayers for us all please.

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