Saturday, July 25, 2020

HCPT Groups 35 and 729 Reunion During the Covid-19 Pandemic

As Westminster Cathedral is now open again for holy mass, Bernie Paul and I who had for years led our HCPT groups on pilgrimages with HCPT The Pilgrimage Trust to Lourdes at Easter time, agreed to have a reunion last Thursday.

Westminster Cathedral authorities had combined their 12 noon and 1:05 pm masses to a single mass at 12:30 pm which we decided to attend before meeting. One had to queue before entering the Cathedral and cleanse one's hands prior to entering the pews. 

Not having been to confession for a year I decided also to join the queues for that sacrament. Confession did not take place in the rather old confessionals in the cathedral but rather in side chapels standing up before  young priests, who wore  clear plastic visors rather than a mask. The latter are not required within the cathedral in any event. I thought that taking the sacrament in this way was holy and dignified and congratulate the clergy for working out that new procedure so well.

However  after confession, going to sit in one of the cathedral pews I though that the way the authorities had effectively taped off pews using what appeared to be flashy road accident type police tape, was poor. Using carefully tied string as is done locally at the Sacred Heart church Wimbledon, is rather less obtrusive. 

Mass was spiritual but speedy with no sermon nor as it happens any altar servers,  though  at Wimbledon, a short sermon during masses there, seems fitting enough.

Afterwards Bernie Paul and I made our way to The Ivy restaurant Victoria Street which had just re-opened and enjoyed a terrific meal together:

There was much talk and laughter about our enjoyable but difficult, times travelling together to Lourdes over many years principally by train. There was naturally, sombre conversation about the appalling effects of the pandemic not the least of which was the cancellation of this year's HCPT pilgrimage to Lourdes, for the first time since the foundation of the Trust in 1956.

On a happier note however as our long lunchtime  conversations began to conclude, both Bernie and Paul declined to let me pay for the meal which had been my intention. Instead they said that they would pay for me provided that I gave each of them a signed copy of The Wandering Soul:

And the deal was done.

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