It gives me great pleasure to recall the happy events of the weekend of the second of March 2008, the day on which Bishop Marcus consecrated Bishop Aristid, assisted by Bishop Johannes and I.
The few days preceding the consecration were spent enjoying the company of members of the Young Rite and other friends, as well as preparing for the consecration liturgy and seeing something of beautiful Slovenia. The majestic scenery was a refreshment and an inspiration to our spirits and many of us, I am sure, will treasure memories of the famously delicious cream cakes of Bled!
On the morning of Saturday 1st March, the Feast of St David of Wales, Bishop Marcus kindly invited me to celebrate Mass for the large group of Dutch and Slovenian Church members gathered at Tabor. It was a privilege to share the Lord’s supper with so many dear brothers and sisters and the consecration of the jewels for Bishop Aristid’s crosier was of particular interest to me as I had never before participated in this ceremony. On the Saturday afternoon the whole group, very ably led by Master of Ceremonies Domen Kocevar and Bishop Marcus, worked hard on rehearsing the liturgy and I think we all agreed that we deserved our lovely Chinese meal that evening at Žalec.
The next morning saw us all up bright and early, at the Celske Dom in Celje to prepare for the Consecration which was due to begin at 11am. Everybody worked together harmoniously and we were ready in plenty of time. Subdeacon Francek even managed to treat me to a cup of much appreciated coffee at the adjoining café before the congregation started to arrive, and arrive they did, as predicted, between 10.45 and 11.10 am, all 130 of them! Included in this great number were numerous friends of Bishop Aristid from many walks of life; his dear and very proud mother and other members of his family, as well as friends from Austria and Hungary and dignitaries such as Dr Cepar, the Director of the Office for Religious Communities in Slovenia.
Subdeacon Domen, as co-Master of Ceremonies with Fr Frans Kalse, welcomed people warmly in Slovenian whilst in the vestry Bishop Marcus led us all in prayer, invoking the angel host to bless our ceremony.
We were fortunate to have in Coralie Meijer, a very capable and sympathetic organist, whose playing of the traditional Liberal Catholic settings of the Mass certainly beautified the occasion. The hard work of preparation over previous days certainly paid off as each cog in the wheel of our team was set in motion and everyone seemed to relax into their role. The efficiency and devotion of the masters of ceremony, the deacon, sub-deacon, servers and crosier bearers all combined with the intrinsic beauty of the liturgy to ensure that the powerful and transformative energies at work in the hall were enabled to do their work. The congregation were provided with a Slovenian translation of the service and Bishop Marcus’ beautiful and mercifully succinct homily was also translated. As a result many members of the congregation were impressed and visibly moved.
Throughout the service Bishop Aristid conducted himself with great humility, his natural human warmth and integrity blended with a serious deportment were most edifying. At a Consecration it is the function of the consecrating Bishops to open, by an act of the will, a channel for the Apostolic Succession to flow and having done this it was good to see in Bishop Aristid such a willing vessel to receive the grace of consecration. And so it was that Bishop Aristid Havlicek came to be, in the words of Bishop Lewis Keizer, “a custodian of the of the most ancient and powerful continuous spiritual lineage that still exists – the Apostolic Succession from the Great Master Jesus”. I have no doubt that he will be a great credit to the ancient and honourable office which he now holds.
For those of us from tiny Liberal Catholic outposts on the edge of the known world to see so many people drawn to receive Holy Communion at a Liberal Catholic Mass was a moving moment in itself. Truly God is blessing the ministry of his people in Slovenia!
After the Mass, Bishop Aristid having been enthroned on a suitably large (borrowed) throne and having made his perambulation around the hall, blessing the congregation, we all retired to an adjoining room for a sumptuous buffet, enjoyed by all. Naturally the celebrations continued for quite a few days and I, personally, am truly grateful to all my new Slovenian and Dutch friends who made my participation in this happy event so very enjoyable. +Alistair Bate CCP Companions of the Cross and Passion, Independent Liberal Catholic Fellowship