The month of May and inspires optimism. The lighter evenings, the warmer days and the graces of the Queen of the May prolonging the reverberation of the Paschal season in our heartstrings. The first of May was such a day for the Traditional Catholic Community of Scotland.
Behind the shamrock-crowned gates of St Patrick’s, the TLM community of Dundee gathered with guests from across the country to witness something which seemed impossible just a little less than a year ago. Young couples led their children row on row into the church, clad in Sunday best, to pray for friends and family as they received the sacrament of Confirmation in the Traditional Rite.
The bell rang as the organist took up the hymn ‘Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest’ and I found myself unable to sing for the lump in my throat. You see, since 2013, people like me and the church full of children taking it in turns to colour in pictures of Gospel scenes and drink in the sights, smells and sounds of the sacred rites, we have been shunned and shamed, belittled and banished for loving what the Church always was. Watching the bishop process into the church, mums, dads, little ones and adopted aunts and uncles recieving his blessing was, to my soul, a glimmer of Christ’s appearance in the upper room; a reprieve from the Passion of the Church which we suffer as members of the Mystical Body. When His Lordship greeted us, telling us that it was a privilege to have the vibrant TLM community in his diocese, the wounds of the last few years were transfigured briefly into joy at being embraced by the apostle in our midst.
Once bidden by the parish priest, 16 candidates and their sponsors came forward and with candles lit, knelt to wait their turn. Whilst in prayer for the confirmandi, hearing the form of the sacrament interspersed with patron saints against the backdrop of female voices chanting the Veni Creator Spiritus, it was moving to consider the way in which the Holy Ghost has guided the church in evangelisation, prayer, liturgy and all good works since the day of Pentecost, the countless generations who have heard the same words, smelled the same chrism and received the same slap to the face- a reminder of the challenges we will face with fortitude for the sake of the Kingdom. Indeed, I knew that we would need this strangth when we left our Dundonian Cenacle. As she promised at Fatima, Our Lady arranged those souls as flowers to adorn the throne of God, blossoms the fairest before the altar of God.
After a beautifully sung Mass at which the bishop assisted in choir, we retired to the hall to share in fellowship and refreshments. Before imparting one last blessing the good bishop commented on the growth of the TLM community, the number of children (all of whom survived the prolonged ceremonies and who took a break from playing with balloons as the prelate spoke) and the fervour of faith that is evident among them. Addressing the suffering of those who are nourished by the Traditional Latin Rite in recent times, he apologised for how we have been treated by the church and encouraged us to persevere- confirming the brethren.
Today, 16 young and new Catholics left St Patrick’s changed forever, for they have the indelible mark of Confirmation and the Sevenfold Gifts of the Holy Ghost. The rest of us, however, were also changed; changed by the renewal which comes from witnessing the initiation of new Christians and the recommitment that is inspired in our own journey of discipleship. But I left today, confirmed in my love of the tradition of the church and in my love for Our Lord which finds perfect expression in Her ancient rites which have been handed down to us. Today the optimism of May resounds loudly in my soul and I am sure, in those of those who are, for the first time, on fire with the Holy Ghost. Amen. Alleluia.