The Mass of Our Celtic Roots was initiated to provide a spiritual dimension for people attending, involved or interested in the Celtic Connections Festival . The Jesuit community at St. Aloysius have been very welcoming to the organisers and over the years, the service has grown to involve a number of musicians, choirs and members of the Gaelic and Irish communities.This year, the choirs included members of the St. Mungo Singers, St. Mungo’s Alloa, St.Paul’s Shettleston, St. Maria Goretti, St. Joseph’s Tollcross, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Our Lady and St George’s, Penilee, and St Leo the Great plus cantors from several more parishes.. The instrumentalists were piper Jacqueline Riley, Aisling Gheal, members Clare O’Neill and John Allan, Carissa Bovill (on clarsach), guitarist Anne Marie Berrie, Annette McKirdy and Monica Dyer on clarinet, Marie Clare Rankin on flute and Pauline McNichol on horn, as well as organist Jane McKenna.
There were also representatives from the Knights of St. Columba and the Union of Catholic Mothers among the congregation, as well as possibly our youngest attendee, 4 month old Joshua, who came with his parents.
The Celtic tone of the celebration was set by the instrumentalists before the service began, as they played for the gathering congregation. The combined choirs sang Noel Donnelly’s Celtic Invocation and then, in contrast, Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze.
Principal concelebrant, Mgr. Denis Carlin from Paisley Diocese, then led the procession of clergy (Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick, Fr. Peter Griffiths, Fr.Gerry Hassay, Canon Bob Hill, Fr. Hugh O’Donnell, Fr. Michael Savage, and Deacon Kevin Kelly) to the sanctuary, as choirs and congregation sang the Canticle from Colossians to the well-known tune “Alleluia, sing to Jesus”.
The music of the Mass was an enlivening and enjoyable mix from many traditions. In addition to music in the Celtic tradition – Lord of Life (to the tune Vermio), Sean O’Rhiada’s To Christ the Seed, Chilcott’s Irish Blessing and, as the Recessional, Be Thou my Vision – there was modern Scottish liturgical music – David Harris’ Psalm 18 (sung by Alloa cantor Elise Young), Noel Donnelly’s Dalreoch Agnus Dei and communion antiphon “Come to Me”, and Gerry Fitzpatrick’s St.Andrew Mass – the plainsong Gloria from the Missa De Angelis, the Russian Kyrie, the popular American hymn “Seed scattered and sown” by Dan Feiten, and our own James Quinn’s “This is my will” to the traditional tune “Wally, wally”.
The Gospel was beautifully proclaimed in song by Deacon Kevin, and the Creed was sung in the new Dialogue setting by Mgr. Gerry. Mgr. Denis sang the Eucharistic Prayer, continuing the tradition at this Mass.
Canon Hill gave the homily. Reflecting on the history of this Mass, he directed attention to the question of the relationship between the Mass and the readings celebrated today. The idea of “roots” raised the ideas of things from the past that we try to keep alive, the idea of “rootedness”, but we should not be stuck in the past. As the reading from Ezra suggests, we need to be inspired by what we hear. As Luke says in the opening of his Gospel, we are looking at things fulfilled in our day, not just in the past.
The word “fulfilment” is much used in scriptures, particularly in the Gospels. Jesus, quoting from Isaiah, makes the point that a prophesy can be fulfilled again and again. If we look at the word in a different way- “filled fully”- we see Jesus making real the “good news” . In our own day, the word is proclaimed afresh in the sacraments, and we who hear the Good News are to take it to others. This is the meaning of “tradition” – handing on to the next generation.
The celebration ended with hospitality in the Ogilvie Centre with an opportunity to mingle and chat over tea and nibbles.