The principal celebrant was Fr. Michael Hutson from the Diocese of Argyll & the Isles. He was joined by Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick (Director of Music for the Archdiocese of Glasgow), Fr. David Wallace , St. Bartholomew’s, Glasgow, Fr. Willie Slavin (formerly of St. Peter’s Partick), Mgr. James MacNeil from St. Columba’s Cathedral, Oban, Fr. David Connor from St. Margaret’s Lochgilphead, Fr. Noel Colford from Holy Cross, Arran, Fr. Sandy Culley from St. Mun’s Dunoon, and Fr. John Craven, parish priest of St. Mungo’s, with his colleague Fr. Laurence Byrne.
The music of the Mass was a reminder of how the music of the Liturgy has developed over the past 50 years. It included music which would have been familiar (to choirs at least) at the time of the introduction of English to the Liturgy – the plainchant Kyrie, Credo 3 and Mozart’s Ave Verum.There were modern settings of the parts of the Mass from the Bellahouston Gloria, the Jubilee Sanctus and Memorial and the Dalreoch Agnus Dei, all by Scottish composers, and the Missal setting of the Preface Dialogue. The Psalm and Gospel Acclamation were sung as well as the Gospel (beautifully proclaimed by Fr. David Wallace).
Finally there was a wide range of hymns which illustrated the resources which have developed over the period: Scripture-based hymns such as James Quinn’s “This is my Will”, Stephen Smyth’s setting of the Canticle from Colossians and Sean Bowman’s “I am the Vine”; music from Taizé; hymns which reflect our Celtic heritage and culture – Noel Donnelly’s Celtic Invocation, Catherine Walker’s “Great God, be near me” and John Bell’s “God to Enfold You” – and some from wider afield such as “Lord you have come to the Seashore” and “Here I am, Lord”.
Fr. Michael reminded everyone at the beginning of Mass that this introduction of the vernacular had meant in Scotland the use also of Gaelic, and it was fitting that he spoke some words of welcome in Gaelic, and later the first verse of “God to enfold you” was sung in Gaelic. He also reflected that the Post Communion prayer for that day expresses thanks to God that we benefit from participating in heavenly things, which was the purpose of the introduction of the vernacular.Mgr MacNeil provided a thought provoking homily. He began by calling the introduction of the vernacular a true cause for celebration. Pope Francis had celebrated this earlier this year in Rome (March7) inviting people to give thanks for a courageous move by the Church. In his homily on that occasion, said Mgr MacNeill, the Pope had called for a correspondence between the liturgy we celebrate and the lives we live, and he had reminded the congregation that the liturgy was not something happening “over there” while the congregation sat absorbed in its own thoughts.
The vernacular enables us to understand and be encouraged by the Word of God and as the Pope also said at the end of the Mass, we cannot go back, we must always go forward, always forward, for the one who goes back is making a mistake.
Mgr. MacNeill continued with the thought that the language we speak is the language of the soul. The reform of the liturgy was the best achievement of Vatican II, greater than any of the documents because the liturgy is the expression of what we believe. When we start on a journey, a moment comes when we regret leaving and desire to go back even as the Israelites did during the Exodus. But we would go back to a concept of a fearful and distant God if we went back.
Turning to the Gospel reading, he reflected that the apostles James and John wanted religious honours but Jesus’ response reveals that true Christian transcendence is in the Incarnation and in living, and it does not come cheaply. Liturgy and life must correspond. God touches and heals us and raises us up. Only when we realise that our help comes from above, do we truly trust God, the God who is Love.
Mgr. MacNeill finished with a challenge – how many of us on hearing the psalm response – “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord God of Hosts” – had gone up to heaven in their imagination and how many into their own hearts where God is. We should really thank God for the reform of the Liturgy which enables us to celebrate who we are in Christ in the Eucharist – one with Christ and one with one another.
At the end of the Mass, Fr.John Craven thanked everyone from everywhere who had been involved in arranging and taking part in the celebration and in typical Passionist fashion did not miss the opportunity to appeal for readers to assist with the Liturgy at St. Mungo’s!
The celebration came to a suitable conclusion with a wonderful spread in the Parish halls which made it feel like a true birthday celebration.