The other day I watched the live stream of the consecration of the new Bishop of Portsmouth, England, Most Rev. Philip Egan, who was a collaborator with the outstanding Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies.
At the end of the Mass in Portsmouth, the newly minted Bishop Egan gave a brief address that quickly had me sitting up straight. Here is the transcript:
Dear fellow pilgrims on life’s journey, we inhabit a remarkable century, the 21st, which despite the current economic distemper, is witnessing momentous advances in every domain of human knowledge and endeavour, with new discoveries and new applications in science and engineering, in computing and cybernetics, in medicine and bio-technology, in the social sciences, arts and humanities, all of which manifest the limitless self-transcending reach of human experience, understanding and judgement and the cloud of burgeoning possibilities for human deciding, undreamt of by those who’ve gone before.
Indeed, even as we speak, Curiosity is roving among the sand-dunes of Mars, in anticipation of a manned space-voyage to the Red Planet. [I like this reference to Curiosity. I'll bet some of the people listening thought they were on Mars during what the Bishop says a little farther along...] With all these exhilarating developments, the Catholic Tradition must engage, the old with the new, in a mutually-enriching critical-conversation.
Yet the ordination of a Bishop, as Successor of the Apostles, in communion of mind, will and heart with the Pope, as the chief Shepherd, Teacher and High Priest of the diocese entrusted to him, who, like the Master, must lay down his life for his flock, reminds us that human needs ever remain essentially the same: [This is a mistake liberals make: they think man has evolved beyond certain things, such as humility before God.] the need to love and to be loved, the need for a purpose and vocation in life, the need to belong to family and community, the need for mercy and forgiveness, for peace and justice, for freedom and happiness, and most profoundly, the need for immortality and for the Divine.
All these fundamental desires, hard-wired into the human heart: theology expresses in the word ‘salvation,’ and we profess that every child, woman and man on this planet can find that salvation. [The goal of the Church is not to promote an earthly utopia.] There is a Way – and it’s the Truth! It’s the true Way that leads to Life, real life, life to the full, a life that never ends. There is a Way, and it’s not a strategy, a philosophy or a package-deal. This Way has a Name, because it’s a Person, the only Person in human history who really did rise from the dead, a Person alive here and now: Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son Incarnate. He alone can save us. He alone can give us the salvation our spirits crave. He alone can reveal to us the Truth about God and about life, about happiness and humanism, about sexuality and family values, about how to bring to the world order, justice, reconciliation and peace.
This message of Good News, and the civilisation of love it occasions, [v. Culture of Death] we Catholics must now communicate imaginatively, with confidence and clarity, together with our fellow Christians, and all people of faith and good will, to the people of England, this wonderful land, Mary’s Dowry. We must offer this salvific message to a people, sorely in need of new hope and direction, disenfranchised by the desert of modern British politics, wearied by the cycle of work, shopping, entertainment, and betrayed by educational, legal, medical and social policy-makers who, in the relativistic world they’re creating, however well-intentioned, are sowing the seeds of a strangling counterculture of death.
My brothers and sisters, today, the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, of England’s Nazareth, let’s go forth from this Mass with joyful vigour, resolved in the Holy Spirit, to help bring about the conversions needed – intellectual, moral and spiritual – for everyone-we-meet to receive Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Life…. Please pray for me to the Lord Jesus, whose Heart yearns for us in the Blessed Sacrament, that I might be a humble and holy, orthodox, creative and courageous, Bishop of Portsmouth, one fashioned after the Lord’s own.
WDTPRS kudos to Bp. Egan!
In other news, as I watched the live stream of the Mass with a priest friend who knows Portsmouth well, I was told that during the time of the former bishop Marian hymns were not allowed during Mass. What did we hear during the Mass of consecration? Marian hymns. The order of service book is HERE.
I am sure that a video of the whole Mass will eventually be available. In advance, however, there had been some discussion of the challenge Bp Egan’s appointment would bring for the liturgical mafia of Portsmouth, including the celebrated composer of the Alleluia Cha Cha, Paul Inwood. Inwood wrote a new Te Deum for the occasion of the consecration. Te Dium. But that’s another topic altogether.