The Feast of St. Mungo was marked by Mass in the church dedicated to him in Townhead, presided over by Archbishop Conti and attended by members of the Cathedral chapter and diocesan priests and deacons, as well as representatives from parishes and from the Knights of St. Columba. The music was led by the St. Mungo Singers, with additional music from soloist Carissa Bovill on clarsach.
Carissa played several soft airs and the St. Mungo Singers sang “Great God, be near me” and “God be in my head” before the Mass began, setting the tone of quiet reflectiveness, Then the Archbishop and clergy entered to the singing of “Be Thou my Vision”.
Archbishop Conti welcomed everyone and thanked the Passionist community for hosting the Mass. The liturgy began with the beautiful Litany of Praise “Lord Jesus, you came to gather the nations into the peace of the Kingdom of God”, leading into the plainchant Gloria from the “Missa de Angelis”. In response to the first reading (from Isaiah 52), the cantor led the congregation in the singing of Psalm 121 “May the House of the Lord be at peace” – a heartfelt prayer at this time of difficulty in the Holy Land.
Archbishop Conti in his homily, as at previous St. Mungo Masses, used the occasion to reflect on the past year in the Archdiocese. There had been a number of celebrations over the year including three priestly and three diaconate ordinations and a number of jubilees of priests and religious. This Mass itself was a special occasion as it would see the first use of the new Mass prayers approved in 201. He quoted from the new Eucharistic Prayer and reminded the congregation of the old Latin tag “Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi” – our prayers express our faith and it in turn determines our actions. As children of St. Mungo, we are called, like him, to be attentive to the Word, outstanding in holiness, inspired in our apostolate and faithful in following God’s will.
The highlight of the year had been the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, and Archbishop Conti invited everyone to take the opportunity to reread the sermons and addresses given during his visit, particularly on the importance of ecumenism. This week in Glasgow, the greater trust and friendliness among the churches had found expression in the celebration in St. Mungo’s Cathedral.
2010 had been the centenary of the 1910 Conference which had given great impetus to the ecumenical movement in Scotland. The year had also seen the marking of the Reformation Parliament. We could not speak of celebrating that event because of the divisions which had arisen from it but we needed to mark it, and our sensitivity in doing so had been noted by the other churches.
Pope Benedict, in a recent address to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, had reminded us to leave to God what is His alone but to explore what is our duty in this respect. Jesus invites us to seek…to knock…to act, and the coming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is indeed an opportunity to do so. The Archbishop made particular mention of the work of the St. Mungo Singers in this regard – the choir could be said to be the choir of the ecumenical movement in Glasgow.
Finally he touched on the refurbishment of St. Andrew’s Cathedral which would re-open with Vespers on 9 April, followed by the solemn rededication the next day. He hoped that the Cathedral would host a series of musical events, in addition to liturgy, and that the liturgy and the architecture would be an inspiration to those attending.
Noting that this might be his last St. Mungo Mass as Archbishop, he once more turned to the new prayers for the Mass and, taking the words of the Solemn Blessing, prayed that we seek St. Mungo’s protection and follow his example so that we too might enter into eternal life.
The Mass continued with the procession with the gifts of bread and wine, as Carissa played another quiet melody, before the congregation joined in singing a hymn from the Papal Mass, “Lord, I give my life to you”. Archbishop Conti then sang the Eucharistic Prayer, in the new translation, and congregation and choir responded with the Jubilee Sanctus and Memorial acclamation.
During communion, the choir sang Noel Donnelly’s beautiful scripture-based hymn “One Body, One Faith”, followed by the simple and effective “Be Still and Know that I am God”.
As the celebration drew towards its close, Parish Priest Fr. James Berrie, invited everyone, on behalf of the Passionist community, to come to the hall for tea and biscuits. He noted that, as it was a special occasion, there would even be chocolate biscuits! For those who were not sure of the way to the hall, he recommended that they follow the St. Mungo Singers (who had been finding their way there for almost 40 years!) or the clergy who were experts at finding the refreshments.
He expressed his thanks to Archbishop Conti and led the congregation in expressing their appreciation for all his support. In responding, Archbishop Conti took the opportunity to congratulate two local schools, St. Mungo’s Primary and St. Kevin’s, for their submissions to the St. Mungo Festival which had received awards.
The service ended with the Glasgow anthem “Let Glasgow Flourish” before the recessional procession left the church to the singing of Newman’s “Praise to the Holiest”. As promised, there were chocolate biscuits with the tea and coffee, and the congregation clearly enjoyed their celebration of St. Mungo’s feast day.