Fr. Rupert McHardy: ‘Lent is about taking responsibility for our own sins’

London is having one of her maddeningly muggy and heretically humid days. The smug clouds hold rain that will bathe London’s streets, but instead of releasing a cleansing shower, the clouds hold on jealousy to their charge of rain, instead there are just odd splashes of escaped water. I walked through South Kensington passing groups of gals with their Harrods bags and at one point helped a lady from Spain to find the post-box. The trees begin to betray winter’s austere fashion of exposed limbs, and sport the odd shy patch of leaves; their edgy silhouettes cast patterns of lace against the rough grey cotton of the sky.

Leaving the bustling thoroughfare of Brompton Road, I crept into The Oratory and prepared for the 5.30 ‘Extraordinary Form Mass’.

Fr. Anthony offered the Tridentine Mass in the side chapel. Every time I attend such a Mass, I am startlingly aware of my own Catholicity in the instant the priest recites ‘Agnus Dei Qui tolis pecata mundi, misere nobis’. My character as a Catholic is realised with every word of the Agnus Dei; and it’s a tremendous, causes-my-heart-to-tremor moment, when life is pumped into my faith, and my sense of belonging is great. It’s that sense of belonging that gives me peace and fulfilment.

A little reluctantly, I offered my Communion in atonement for my sins, and for the lessening of my punishment in this life and the next. I write ‘reluctantly’ because I would rather have prayed for more ‘worldy’ pie-in-the-sky intentions, such as getting a 3 million pound publishing deal. But instead I slowly asked Our Lord to grant me pardon for sins that include holding grudges and vanity. My thanklessness at having so beautiful a Mass where I may do this is especially glaring when one considers that there are one million Catholics worldwide who are faithful to the Traditional Latin Mass, and only eleven of those Catholics were at Fr. Anthony’s Mass.

Ironically, I then prayed the Rosary that my friend ‘S’ will convent from his atheist, pro-abortion stance and become a practising Catholic. While I’m so keen to pray for the remission of the sins of others, I often address my own so flippantly.Which is why Fr. Rupert’s sermon during the 6PM Mass that followed was a welcome washing instruction; that each soul needs selective sponge downs. Fr. Rupert told a half-full church that Lent gives us an opportunity to examine our own sins and to make recompense for them, that our sins are own responsibility and no one else’s. Fr. Rupert ended his sermon by exerting us to see that in amending our own lives, being a good example to others that ultimately ‘we will do God’s will’.

Fr. Rupert      


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