I was fortunate enough to have been given a ticket for the event, and was grateful for the opportunity to join with my fellow Catholics in giving thanks for last year's Papal visit. The Mass itself was set to Mozart's Spatzenmesse, which was sung by Westminster Cathedral's world-famous Choir. Both the entrance and communion hymns, Praise to the Holiest in the height and Firmly I believe and truly, were written by Blessed John Henry Newman - whose beatification was proclaimed during the Pope's visit, one year ago today. The Scriptural readings and proper prayers were from the 25th Sunday of the Year, whilst the proper sung parts were taken from the Feast of the Chair of St Peter. The offertory motet, Tu es Petrus, was set to the music of Charles-Marie Widor, as was the rousing organ voluntary at the end.
Archbishop Nichols said that he believed that "a deepening of our life of prayer" was essential for those who sought to witness to the "beauty of holiness". Quoting Bl John Henry Newman, Vincent Nichols said that "without prayer we cannot 'radiate Christ; we become just another ‘clashing symbol’ in a world filled with growing noise and confusion.'" He also cited Pope Benedict XVI when he said that "Prayer is letting the Lord have the right of free speech." In light of this, the Archbishop of Westminster called for a renewal of "the practice of daily prayer." He also said that "Pope Benedict is not afraid of diversity in the prayer and liturgical life of the Church. Neither should we be." He then went on to call for "a special place in our prayer, in every parish, for Eucharistic Adoration."
"In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free." (emphasis mine)
For the full text of Archbishop Vincent Nichols' homily, please see the Diocese of Westminster's website
For more on today's events, please see this page on the Diocese of Westminster's website
* The other evening, I confused St Francis de Sales with St Louis de Montford, but it was quickly pointed out to me that de Montford was the one "not shy of getting into brawls" in defending truth! It seems, then, that some saints prefer "firmness" to "gentility" when it comes to witnessing to the "splendour of the truth".
[Images: 1 Westminster Cathedral during the Mass of Thanksgiving © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk; published under a creative commons licence; source: Flickr Catholic Church England and Wales. 2 The Bishop of St Albans reading the message from Most Rev Rowan Williams © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk; published under a creative commons licence; source: Flickr Catholic Church England and Wales. 3 Archbishop Vincent Nichols during the homily © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk; published under a creative commons licence; source: Flickr Catholic Church England and Wales. 4 A commemorative lapel pin, given to all those who attended the Thanksgiving Mass. 5 The seminarians of England and Wales with Archbishop Nichols © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk; published under a creative commons licence; source: Flickr Catholic Church England and Wales. 6 The order of service booklet from today's Mass of Thanksgiving. More photos here]