Ordination in Edinburgh

Off to Edinburgh today for the ordination to the priesthood of Fr Simon Tibbs in Old St Paul’s. It was suitably glorious. People who come from Glasgow as always greeted with amazement at events in Edinburgh. (Most people from Edinburgh have never learnt that the trains do actually run in both directions and that crossing to the west is possible without sherpas and camels).

I’m never unmoved by a priesting and I found myself thinking a lot about the power to bind and loose which is bestowed at ordination. It is just one aspect of being a priest which is so very often understood and yet as time goes on, I think that it is one of the great gifts that a sacramental priesthood offers amongst God’s people. I’m still only starting to understand it myself. Its something that I might come back to blog about later, if I am reminded to do so.

As ever, I was touched most by the sight of the bishop anointing the new priest’s hands, by far the most moving part of my own ordination.

The music was particularly glorious today; the Widor mass setting simply stunning. I found myself unexpectedly in the sanctuary for the Eucharistic prayer and the power of the choir singing the Sanctus and Benedictus was extraordinary. We had been told before the service that we were invited to move up to the altar if we wanted to concelebrate. As I neither like nor believe in concelebration, I did my best to stay put as I had been told to. However, I found myself ushed up to another place, which did at least have the benefit of the full choir singing astonishingly powerfully and beautifully.

The whole thing made me wonder whether we need to have more incense around our choir – it seems to do them good in OSP.

Breathe deeply now.


  1. A friend and fellow div student, Shona Boardman, is to be ordained in Edinbugh (St. Mary’s Cathedral) on Sept. 13th. Sadly the train is less frequent and far less reliable between Ontario and Ediburgh than between Glasgow and the same..which is to say I won’t be there myself. If you happen to be there, it’d be a hoot if you said hello for me.

    And the answer to more incense is yes. It’s always yes, until you can’t see the altar from the first pew.

  2. Can you have too much incense?
    The Botafumeiro would be just right for St. Mary’s. It would be very impressive swinging up and down the nave.

  3. Fr Madpriest, don’t think that I have not given thought to the Botafumeiro. Should there ever be another phase of rebuilding…

    I’m afraid that I’m unlikely to be in Edinburgh on 13 September, Aaron.

  4. Elizabeth says

    Please do blog more about binding and loosing. I confess that I don’t understand it at all! Am most intrigued. And yes please, more incense!

  5. Yes to more incense!

  6. fr dougal says

    “I neither like nor believe in concelebration”
    I am curious: why? Many of the SEC’s more catholic minded clergy dislike concelebration. Is it “I like flying solo and being the centre of attention” or is it “It’s all for the benefit of the clergy not the congregation” or is it even “Untill all priests everywhere can do this it’s pointless”? (I happen to like and agree with the practice).

  7. It is for none of those reasons John. I just think we all celebrate at a Eucharist – the presiding priest has a particular role and it is one which I enjoy taking, but I don’t feel that I’ve missed out by not having that role. As it happens, I enjoy deaconing or indeed serving at the altar, just as much as presiding.

    I can find myself understanding why at General Synod the members of the College of Bishops concelebrate. Though I don’t think it necessary, I can see that it is a liturgical way of trying to express a theological and ecclesiastical reality.

    I guess I don’t think that priesthood is really all about being up front and presiding. To see it that way is to get cart before horse. The joy of presiding is an honour which the community bestows on someone who acts as a priest, no, someone who actually is a priest amongst the people the rest of the time. It is that “rest of the time” bit about priesthood which really matters, much more than the presiding at the front.

    I won’t try to claim that being the centre of attention is not desirable! I do, however, fit the mould of someone who has high church sensibilties who just doesn’t like the whole concelebration thing.

  8. fr dougal says

    I don’t disagree with your reasoning here Kelvin. And like you I enjoy the other roles and simply being part of the congregation. I also agree completely that the privilege of presiding emerges from being a priest amongst the people of God and not as a right inherent in being ordained. What I have learnt to value about concelebration is that at certain times of gathering (Maundy Thursday, Diocesan Synods) it is a powerful way of expressing both the catholicity of the Church and reminding us all that we are not congregationalists – particularly when the Bishop is principal concelebrant.

    It is also good when on pilgrimage and gathering christians from a variety of locations and provinces as a sign of universality. OCICBW!

  9. If you are on pilgrimage to Walsingham, Fr Dougal, you cannot concelebrate if you are a woman. So it is NOT a sign of universality.

  10. I’d be happy with more incense…

  11. fr dougal says

    True, I should have said “it can be”. But there are more places to concelebrate than Walsingham.

  12. I just can’t think of another place of pilgrimage where they insist you concelebrate.

  13. fr dougal says

    Not sure about Lourdes or Fatima, but I think they might.

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