For our second Spring Gathering of 2018 we went south, to St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth, where some 40 of us came together to reflect, pray, share good practice and receive guidance from our leaders.

Once again, we were looking at how to prepare well for a great celebration of Mass. And, once again, Fr Kevin (McGinnell) surprised us with his insights and suggestions for making a good Mass even better.  Ever considered using different kinds of incense to denote different seasons? Fr Kevin suggested an acrid incense for Lent could be replaced by a more fragrant incense for the Easter season.  A simple but effective way to mark the changes in seasons, together with the more obvious ones.  He also challenged our welcoming of others at Mass: are we aware of the message we send out when we stay put in our seat on the end of a row instead of moving along if someone wants to come into the same pew?  An act which is both unfriendly and unhelpful, making others clamber over/around us to be seated?

In ‘Planning and Preparing the Liturgy’ with Martin Barry, we discussed the distinction between the two.  Planning is knowing what you are going to sing, for example, whereas preparing is getting the notes right . After lunch, Paul Wellicome demonstrated different styles of music and what might be achieved with a variety of resources while Fr Kevin took a smaller group and explored the Mass texts including some of the less familiar Eucharistic Prayers. The day began with Morning Prayer and culminated with Mass in the chapel behind the altar and choir stalls.  It was a beautiful and intimate end to the day.  We were especially blessed to have Catherine Christmas (Cathedral organist) and Peter Newman (Director of Music at St. John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth) with us for the day, playing for us, singing with us and making us feel very welcome.

If you were unable to join us in Portsmouth, there is still time to book for our final Spring Gathering of 2018, to be held in Coventry on 5 May (St Thomas More Church).

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