Saturday, March 14, 2020

Westminster Cathedral, HCPT and other Religious Issues

On Thursday this week the former HCPT Groups 35/729 Deputy Group Leader and myself met to attend Mass  at Westminster Cathedral and offer a prayer for HCPT's children, helpers and HQ staff, with whom we had been involved,  travelling to Lourdes over many years.

Having arrived a little early for the Mass attending for the sacrament of confession for the first time for many months seemed a good idea. On the last occasion I tried to attend Confession at Westminster Cathedral before mass the queue was so  enormous that just before mass was due to commence the priest emerged from the confession box and said that in view of the time constraint could only those with grievous (mortal) sins on their consciences remain. Somewhat amusingly (perhaps I have a warped sense of humour) the queue vanished almost  at once. As it happens this was not a problem on Thursday as there was no queue at all.

Initially it seemed  perhaps because of Covid-19,  that the congregation for holy mass would be small. However at 12:29pm a large number arrived just in time for the 12:30pm start and the introductory  reading. There were no altar servers but there  was a reader. The priest celebrating mass gave an excellent sermon and also spoke of those suffering round the world with the coronavirus. 

Changes made  within the Cathedral as a result of the coronavirus, of course limited holy communion to taking the host on the hand; there were no holy water stoops nor sign of peace but otherwise all was normal other than perhaps the absence of altar servers.

Afterwards meeting with Paul  the HCPT deputy, we discussed where to go for lunch. Given the season of Lent and the fact that I did not even know that the Cathedral had its own cafe in the basement we attended for lunch there. The food was inexpensive but most importantly there was space enough to sit comfortably and converse together. We were worried about Bernie also a helper of many years with HCPT Groups 35/729, who was due to attend the mass and lunch but neither of us had heard from her since her recent visit to Spain, which country is we understood, now locked down because of Covid-19. 

However we decided that perhaps  after Lent and  then Easter, the  three of us would attend for a slightly more extravagant lunch together at the Goring Hotel, to which we later walked from the Cathedral. 

During lunch we reflected on the  many happy times with HCPT  on which for example see:

At Lourdes with the HCPT

Sadly, we gathered that for the first time since its formation in the 1950s, the HCPT Easter pilgrimage to Lourdes this year had been cancelled because of Covid-19. Unfortunate but wise in my view. The French in any event, having  now  prohibited gatherings of more than a few people, would have  made such a pilgrimage impossible.

The British government's  expected  move in a few days time to restrict gatherings of people at least indoors, may result in  many events being 'attended' only online, though subject to weather, perhaps a mass or two out of doors will still be possible locally.

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