‘Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven...' (Genesis)

Just back from 8AM Tridentine Mass at the Brompton Oratory, or ‘Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’. A friend and I walked there in the early morning sun. The Oratory looked radiant, glowing with yellow-gold sunshine.
The silence of the Oratory always smotes my senses when I go into the church, something about coming in from the buzz and the bewildering noise of South Kensington and Knightsbridge into the still and tranquil. This morning, I noted that candles were lit in various places of the church, but couldn't fathom why this was the case.

Before Mass began, Fr. Rupert announced that today, April 16th is the anniversary of the dedication of the church, and that the candles marked the places where the bishop blessed the church. The Mass for today is the ‘Mass of the Dedication’. ‘Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven; and it shall be called the court of God’ reads the Introit from Genesis. The gradual reads ‘this place was made by God, a priceless mystery, it is without reproof.’ The Communion from Matthew, ‘my house shall be called the house of prayer, saith the Lord: in it everyone that asketh receiveth: and to him that knocketh it shal be opened.’
Fr. Rupert was vested in Roman vestments, which were festive and celebratory, instilled in us an instant sense of the joyousness of the occasion. My ordinary vocabulary fails when I seek to describe such vestments. Thank God for digital photography, that the sight of this vestment may be available to anyone on the web, the world over. 

Only a few years ago (when as a visitor to London) I would attend the 8AM, and sometimes there were only a handful of people (one morning in October 2008, I counted seven people), but today I counted 26 seated both in St. Joseph’s chapel, and in the pews directly behind this chapel.
This evening there will be Solemn Benediction (6.30PM) at the Brompton Oratory.


  1. Terribilis est locus iste, domus Dei et porta caeli. I still get the shivers when entering a traditional Church.

    Valoris Ardentis

  2. I can relate. I used to feel apprehension when I could only visit traditional churches, when I lived near no such church. This was when I was working near a Church in Togher, Cork that was designed like a drafty triangular hall, and my parish church in Bishopstown was a brashly lit room and a resurexific instead of a crucifix. Now that going to traditional churches in London is 'the norm' for me, I no longer feel gripped-with-the-solemnity. PS - The 8AM Mass at the Oratory had over 30 people in attendance this morning.

  3. There is a transition period from going exclusively to 'modern' churches to attending traditional churches. And a big change to make in just in one step. Our Lord does invite us: "Friend, come up higher." (Luke, 14:10). Now that I go regularly to Trad churches, I feel what so many Catholics have felt down the centuries: this is our home: and yes, the House of God and Gate of Heaven.'

  4. I think that the "terrible-ness" (in the true sense of course) of a Catholic Church is a foretaste of the reverential fear that the angels and the saints will feel in anticipation of the last judgement. As long as it is not an overwhelming servile fear, I consider it a good thing.

    I am not a theologian and could be mistaken.

    Valoris Ardentis


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Our Lady appeared on the 13th of the month at Fatima so we may avoid the fate of Judas

What is your Memento Mori? It need not be a skull. Mine is a red bus.