Monday, July 11, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles SE: Feast of St. Benedict 2011

Seems like an odd day to have a special edition of Cry Room Chronicles? You bet. A special reason had us at Mass on a random Monday in England: Mass at Fountains Abbey with the local bishop, Rt. Rev. Arthur Roche. Only in England could you have a bishop named Arthur!

We arrived in plenty of time because we didn't know exactly where we were going and we wanted to wander around the grounds before Mass. We finally headed down the hill to the Abbey. Jacob and Lucy had some lunch (Mass was at noon). Then Jacob wanted to go potty but we didn't see anything nearby. We went into the Abbey, but sure enough there was no potties. The place was already pretty packed. An usher showed us one open seat and then some people offered us their folding chairs, which we gratefully accepted.

I should explain. The Abbey was built long before the Reformation and is in this shape now:

Mass was held under the hallway on the right.

Mass was in what seemed to be a cellar area, with a dirt and rock floor, no electric lights (which Jacob pointed out several times), and open air windows. The Mass was very reverent and moving. Jacob was sitting in one of the chairs quite peacefully. So peacefully that he fell asleep. I grabbed him and held him on my lap and shoulder until the end. Lucy got in and out of her chair about 100 times, but remained relatively quiet and was glad to put money in the collection plate and shake hands for the sign of peace. Jacob slept through both. He reminded me of the old days when he was one year old and would sleep through Sunday morning Mass.

Communion wasn't too challenging. Jacob was on my shoulder and Lucy walked holding my hand. The priest distributing the Blessed Sacrament blessed Jacob and Lucy after I received. When Mass was over, several people came up and compliment Lucy and Jacob (and me) for how quiet and well-behaved they were. Lucy didn't sit still for one minute, but she was pretty quiet and did stay in a very limited area. Jacob's behavior was completely undistracting to all but me.

The bishop spoke about the history of the abbey and the area. Before the Reformation, there were more Cistercian Abbeys per square mile in Yorkshire than anywhere else in Christendom. They were a great boon to the area, providing not only faith and education but also a great deal of charity. The sick and poor we cared for by the monks. All was lost with Henry VIII's legacy. The bishop spoke quite highly of the new efforts here to work with the Anglican Church and promote understanding between the two Christian confessions. A great history awaits us all.

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