News Archive

Thursday 13 May 2021

‘And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven.’ The Paschal Candle has been a symbol of the risen Christ’s bodily presence among his disciples for 40 days. It is extinguished after the Gospel as he ascends into heaven. #oxfordoratory

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Thursday 13 May 2021

The Oratory School Vacancy

The Oratory School is seeking to appoint for September 2021 a lay man or woman who is in full communion with the Catholic Church and fully in sympathy with the Oratorian ethos to the exciting new post of Coordinator of Spiritual Life. Click here for full information.

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Shouts of joy…trumpet blast?

What, I wonder, did the apostles expect the day our Lord led them out to the Mount of Olives? One has the impression that, despite the presence of angels, the event passed off rather quietly. There were no shouts of joy and the sound of the trumpet was not heard. Nevertheless, St Luke tells us, the disciples returned to Jerusalem full of joy, burning with the exciting news that the Lord had passed into the heavens. They may yet have had to unpack the full theological significance of what they had just witnessed, but they knew then that it was important, and not a convenient means of providing a glorious exit for a risen, glorified body from the scene.

Yet, despite the joy they were experiencing as a result of Jesus’ departure and his commission to ‘go out and proclaim the gospel’, the apostles did not start out immediately to do this. Instead, they went to Temple in order to praise God, and then to pray with Our Lady in the Upper Room, waiting for the fulfilment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate. They had learned, at last, that nothing of the years spent with the Master, neither the suffering, doubts and surprises surrounding his Passion and Resurrection, nor the promises he made to them in the forty days after that wonderful event, would be wasted.

Had we been there, we might well have been overwhelmed by the sense of loss. “He has gone. He has left us.” Given their past performance, we should not be surprised had we read that the Twelve had felt such sentiments of abandonment and fear, rather as a small child might feel on being sent off on a long journey without its parents, uncertain and perplexed and even afraid. The fact that those men did not go to pieces denotes some growth and maturing in faith and understanding. Pieces of the jig-saw were beginning to fall into place. They rejoiced because they had understood this much; that he was indeed ‘going to prepare a place for them’. As once he had told them that ‘where I am going you cannot come’, now he had made it possible that they could, and would, follow. They understood that he was the Way to the fulness of life in God’s presence, and that that life, which is eternal life, had already begun and that in time, where he, the Head had gone, they, the Body, would follow. The doubts they had experienced on the night of the Master’s arrest and on the day of his death, had been destroyed by the power of the Resurrection. They had found that they really could trust the Lord Jesus, who had clearly demonstrated to them that he was who he said he was and that he always kept his word. The apparent loss of the Ascension teaches us too that our gain is great.

If we feel the loss or absence of Jesus, it is, perhaps, because we want to keep him here — to build for him ‘an abiding city’, a kingdom of this world, a tent to dwell in, like Peter and his friends on the Mount of the Transfiguration. But we can’t. Like him, we must move on, fulfilling and finishing our journey here. There are disappointments and tragedies, as there are triumphs and delightful surprises. I suppose our motto should “Excelsior! Onward and upward!” We don’t always see the good we do or the fruit of our commitment. How many of the saints saw nothing but their failures, while we see with the benefit of hindsight their successes.

The Ascension is truly a glorious mystery, though the glory may not be wholly apparent from where we stand. All we may see is the departure and the resulting absence — but from God’s angle, it is surely very different and that is the viewpoint we must seek to capture, if we can, by faith. The glory of this event and which we celebrate liturgically is not here, it is in heaven where our hearts are supposed to be fixed. In Christ, our humanity has found its home, once more, with God — in the bosom of the Father. Certainly there should be shouts of joy and as for trumpets blasting out the good news, why not?

These reflections are sent out each Wednesday to all those on our mailing list. Click here to sign up to our mailing list, and receive our Sunday E-newsletter and these reflections straight to your inbox.

Sunday 9 May 2021

“Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Our new range of cards feature designs scanned from images in our archives, plus newly illustrated maxims from St Philip. Buy them when the Lodge is open, Monday to Friday 10:30–6pm. #oxfordoratory

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Saturday 8 May 2021

“Know this today and always, that the gift you receive today, no one can take from you.” Congratulations to our first group from our school to receive their First Holy Communion. #oxfordoratory

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Friday 7 May 2021

Holy Hour is back, each Friday from 5pm. #oxfordoratory

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Thursday 6 May 2021

Preparations are underway for the grand reopening of the Oratory Bookshop and Porter’s Lodge from Monday at 10:30. #oxfordoratory

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Wednesday 5 May 2021

Mary’s month of May

The happy birds Te Deum sing,
’Tis Mary’s month of May,
Her smile turns Winter into Spring,
And darkness into day.

Although the weather isn’t really cooperating at the moment, the signs of Spring are all about us: the trees and flowers of the University Parks are blooming, the birds are singing, and there is much excitement in the air as more bars and restaurants prepare to reopen after months of lock-down. The Ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated the Goddess of Flowers, bringer of new life, during the month of May, and the Church, always eager to take what is good in human society and “baptise” it into the service of God, dedicated this month to the Mother of God. Mary is the new Eve, through whom the life of all has come into the world in the Person of her Son.

Catholics have traditionally held “May devotions” to Our Lady throughout the month, with processions and hymns, and the crowning of her statues. We are not able to have a May Procession again this year, but we will have our usual May Devotions next Tuesday after the evening Mass. As May is Mary’s month, and a special month of hope and new life, the Holy Father has asked all of us to enter into a “marathon of prayer” to Our Lady to ask for an end to the pandemic and “the resumption of social and work activities”. Each day of this month has a particular prayer intention, and has been assigned to a different Marian shrine throughout the world, beginning on 1 May with the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham here in England. The Pope has called on us to recite the Rosary and join our prayers with those the whole Church to our Mother who cares for all of her children, but especially those who suffer or who are alone and afraid.

Here at the Oratory we have the shrine of Our Lady of Oxford, Mother of Mercy. Blessed Pope Pius IX gave a painting of Mary to a young Oxford gentleman, Hartwell de la Garde Grissell, in 1869, and granted special indulgences to those who prayed before it. When Grissell died in 1907, he left the image of Our Lady of Oxford to St Aloysius’ church, on condition that a special chapel be built to house it. From that time, there has been great devotion to Our Lady in the Relic Chapel of our church — especially during exams! — and countless people have visited her here to ask her intercession and receive the hope and comfort that Our Blessed Mother gives us. While the shrine of Our Lady of Oxford is not listed as one of the major shrines in the world for the Holy Father’s special prayer initiative this month, nevertheless it is a very appropriate place for us to turn to the Mother of Mercy and implore her prayers. Today we need those prayers more than ever, and we know that in all our struggles and difficulties, she is there with her protective mantel to shield us from all harm. If we trust in Mary, we need have no fear, for a loving Mother will never abandon her children.

In addition to asking us to pray the Rosary, the Holy Father has composed a prayer to be used each day of May:

We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God.

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity, and continued health.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves,
O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

If you would like to follow the daily prayer intentions, the list of shrines can be found here.