Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.
I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.
Thinking of visiting Oxford?
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
As last year - for which see Observing the Triduum - I spent most of the Triduum serving at SS Gregory and Augustine here in Oxford - they were short of servers so I went there rather than to the Oratory from Thursday to Saturday. However I did also manage to get to Tenebrae at Blackfriars on Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday - my post from last year about its observance can be read at Tenebrae at Blackfriars, and I attended the Stations of the Cross at The Oratory on the evening of Good Friday.
On Maundy Thursday I was acting as second thurifer for the procession to the altar of Repose, helped with the stripping of the altar and stayed for the watch until Compline. On Good Friday, suitably armed with a purificator, I assisted with the Veneration of the Cross and then was back on Holy Saturday to help get the church ready for the Vigil. Here I was again thurifer, avoided getting burned fishing the charcoals out of the new fire, and read two of the prophetic readings. I was rather touched when the Deacon, my friend Daniel Lloyd from the Ordinariate, and like me an old Pusey House man, said how right it felt to be serving together again after, as we worked it out nine years since we kept the Triduum with other Puseyites at Ascot Priory. Daniel was there to sing the Exsultet and act as Deacon of the Mass - the last opportunity he will have to exercise his diaconal ministry in the former capacity before his priestly ordination on April 21st.
I have been promised photographs of the altars and statues as vested for the occasion at SS Gregory and Augustine - that of Our Lady looked particularly fine with a cope, lace veil and crown, and will post them when I receive them.
On Easter Day I was back for the Solemn Mass at the Oxford Oratory in the morning. As is the tradition at the Oratory this ended with the choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus - and confirming for one the sense that indeed the Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.
After a trip out with the Oratory Sacristan into the Oxfordshire countryside for lunch at Bladon and tea at Lower Heyford I was back at the Oratory for Solemn Vespers sung by the Fathers and choir and finally Benediction to close the liturgical day.
All in all a good observance of the Triduum and of Easter Day, and, coming at the end of a Lent which was, I think, spiritually profitable and yielded insights I had not expected on Ash Wednesday, I do have a sense of spiritual rebirth. The thing now is to hang on to it...