Tuesday 28 February 2023

Launch of the Lenten Vestment Mending Challenge

Our Lenten Challenge launched over the weekend before Ash Wednesday, with a vestment mending workshop at St Mary Moorfields, London (thanks to the kind hospitality of Fr Christopher Vipers). The Lenten Vestment Mending Challenge is an annual enterprise for the Guild of St Clare: this year it is being offered as a contribution to the Appeal for Prayers and Penances for the Liberty of the Traditional Mass, organised by Una Voce International. Nearly thirty people are officially signed up to our Challenge this year, with others participating through their local Chapters. This translates into a considerable quantity of work, mostly repairs, which we are undertaking as an alms to the Church, and in particular to traditionally minded priests. Here is a sample of the projects that are in progress.

A new maniple is being made to match a Low Mass set: the shape and design will imitate the stole

The lining is adrift from this chasuble: it is being stitched back down 

This is a pattern I have made for a new maniple to match the stole of a red Low Mass Set

This beautiful embroidered chasuble was coming apart at one of the seams: it has been carefully reinforced

A maniple under construction, to go with a chasuble which had no matching pieces

This chasuble is in perfect condition except for the lining which was badly stained: we are re-lining it

There is a lot of damage to the gold work on this humeral veil: the spangles are being painstakingly replaced

Bias strips of cotton sateen, being cut and pressed before being stitched to the fraying neckline of a chasuble

We often add a lace protector to the neckline of fragile chasubles, to give them a longer life expectancy

This banner needs a new ground fabric

One of our younger members is making a burse to go with this stole

Frayed patches are being carefully darned on this chasuble, and the whole thing re-lined

The London (St Bede's) Chapter is making this altar frontal as a group project, aiming to complete it in time for Laetare Sunday

This banner needs extensive repairs: re-touching to the painting, and a new ground fabric

Friday 17 February 2023

February Sewing Retreat Report

 Lucy writes: As supporters of the Guild of St Clare will remember, our February retreat was to have been held at Park Place Pastoral Centre, near Wickham, Hants. Owing to an unfortunate misunderstanding, it turned out that our dates were not in the Centre's diary, and I made this discovery only a week before the retreat was due to start. That we managed to find a replacement venue at such short notice - and one only a half hour's drive from Park Place - was nothing short of miraculous. 

We held the retreat instead at St Joseph's Centre, Ashurst, a beautiful house run by the Montfort Missionaries. And it became evident, once the weekend had begun, that Our Lady herself had had a hand in the new arrangements. St Joseph's is a superbly run retreat centre, where retreatants are welcomed with roaring log fires and magnificent meals; but what meant the most to us was the profoundly Catholic atmosphere of the place. 

We had the exclusive use of a small ad orientem chapel, and were delighted to find a wonderful Stations of the Cross in the garden, not to mention an abundance of religious art that harmonised charmingly with the surroundings. 

Our retreat began on 3rd February, the Feast of St Blaise, and our chaplain, Fr Thomas Crean O.P., gave us the blessing of throats, as well as our usual devotions of daily Mass, daily Rosary, Compline each evening and Adoration on Saturday.

We achieved a great deal in the short time available to us. Progress was made on re-lining a chasuble, making a chalice veil, a maniple and a burse, adding new facings to a cope, patching a much-loved cotta, stitching lace on to an alb where it had come loose, strengthening some fragile panels in an old chasuble, adding lace protectors to stoles, labelling new vestments with the names of the owners and repairing the gold work on a humeral veil.

Despite the last-minute change of venue, the retreat was fully booked, and we had retreatants from all over the UK including Scotland, Manchester and Kent, and also from abroad: from Slovakia, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

Fr Des Connolly, who was our host, embodies the Ancient Greek spirit of philoxenia. We have never been so warmly welcomed in any place as we were at St Joseph's last weekend. He pressed us most earnestly to return, and as every retreantant, on leaving, also urged the claims of St Joseph's as our future home, it will be so. 

Our November retreat (3-5th Nov) will therefore be held at St Joseph's likewise: online booking is open here. For more information about the Guild of St Clare and our events, look at our website here.

Saturday 11 February 2023

Lenten Vestment Mending, for the Liberty of the Traditional Mass

 Una Voce International has today launched an Appeal for Lenten prayers and penances with the special intention of the liberty of the traditional Mass. Rumours have been circulating recently which suggest that further restrictions will be placed on the Traditional Mass this year, perhaps in Holy Week, and the Appeal is a response to this possible threat. The Guild of St Clare is joining the Appeal by offering our usual Lenten Vestment Mending Challenge for this intention.


The Appeal does not ask for a particular prayer to be said; rather, that individuals and groups should make their own particular offerings for the intention. We at the Guild of St Clare therefore invite anyone who may wish to join us in mending or making a particular vestment during Lent as our contribution to the Appeal, uniting the work with our special vestment-mending prayer: Jesu, via, veritas et vita, miserere nobis (Jesus, the way, the truth and the life, have mercy on us).


It is not necessary to be local to the Guild to participate in this endeavour. If you are unable to attend local Chapter meetings, or the mending workshops in London, it is nevertheless possible to take part from your own home. Any vestment or altar furnishing can be the object of your work, although in accordance with the ethos of the Guild of St Clare, it should be one which will be used, at least occasionally (not necessarily exclusively), for the Traditional Mass. Neither is it necessary to undertake a colossal project on a grand scale (although this isn't discouraged!). Simply sewing down loose braid, or replacing the tapes in a chasuble, can make a big difference to a priest living with the inconvenience of such a problem, and will be also be welcomed as a contribution to the Appeal.


If this suffering is indeed to come to us, it must be understood as an invitation to prayer: let us be like the widow praised by Our Lord for the donation of her mite to the Temple, and give as much as we can, be it ever so little, to support the Church and preserve the great treasure of her ancient liturgy. 


If you would like to take part in this Lenten Challenge, please email me at guildofstclare@lms.org.uk for further details. If you are unable to participate but are interested in the project, we will be updating our blog and Twitter feed with news about how our Lenten work is progressing.