09 April 2007

The other sort of Holy Week

All the blogs are full of how well, how reverently, how faithfully, Holy Week was celebrated. It wasn't here.

No veils on the statues or crucifixes; during Lent; no veil even, on the Crucifix which was to be venerated on Good Friday. (But to make up for it, we at least had singing.) Annoyance (I infer annoyance from the constant looking at the watch from the Celebrant) at the amount of time the Veneration took. Holy Communion on Good Friday was better organised so as to take as little time as possible. A surprise on Holy Thursday was that the Blessed Sacrament was taken out of the Sanctuary to an "Altar of Repose" in the Sacristy: I assume there was a locked tabernacle in there somewhere. The side chapels in Church were not used, so Our Blessed Lord was left on his own this year: there was no possibility of watching. The new PP has established his authority.

I didn't go to the Vigil Mass: I had a sick person to look after for a few hours. But the main Mass on Easter Sunday was a treat: a three sermon Mass (one after the Rite of Introduction; one after the Baptismal Promises; one just before the Dismissal) but at least each sermon was unprepared, so that the Holy Spirit could show that He wasn't confined to pulpits or prepared texts. And who ever said that rythmn and blues was an unsatisfactory Mass setting? It might be impossible to sing for the congregation, but the music group loved it!

This was awful, but it was typical. Typical of a Church (in England and Wales) which at best tolerates rubrics but doesn't see them as binding; typical of a Church which has promoted an inferior (if valid) Rite which almost demands spontaneity from priest and people, as though spontaneity were a blessing instead of a curse; typical of a Church which has lost its way.

Genuine questions: in what sense am I in Communion with a Bishop who tolerates and encourages this sort of thing? How wrong would it be to abandon my parish to search for orthopraxis? How many more times will I have to apologise to my children for the great Liturgical celebrations not actually being the things I tell them in advance that they are going to be?

9 comments:

Londiniensis said...

Commiserations. I came to London from the West Riding twenty-five years ago and had almost forgotten what a liturgical desert it could be, especially when one doesn't have the option of a more devout priest within easy distance.

Mac McLernon said...

Deepest sympathies. You could always go to a hotel for Easter (an early holiday) and make sure it was near a suitable parish!!
;-)

Seriously though, it sounds like hell on earth!

Ttony said...

Purgatory on earth; purgatory of a harsh and mediaeval nature; but not quite Hell.

But: lex orandi lex credendi: there is now a second generation of Catholics growing up who cannot comprehend what Catholics say they believe about what happens in the Liturgy because they have never seen it lived.

Moretben said...

Hell gapes for the muggers responsible for it...

This is an agonising and bitter dilemma; those (to whom I can barely restrain myself from offering violence)who waft it away airily with the assurance that the "Church thinks in centuries" - or worse - advise you to "offer it up" (as though you could ever legitimately "offer up" the alienation and displacement arising from participation in man-centred "worship")do not, I suspect, have children to educate.

There is no satisfactory answer to it - one must choose the lesser of two evils. My own inclination is to go wherever the Traditional liturgy is, even if that means "valid but illicit". One loses every other aspect of normal parish life - a very grave disability; one loses, perhaps, the assurance of de jure communion with a bishop whose faith and practice may be unrecognisable to you in any case; one gains the most powerfully formative thing there is - a natural, unselfconscious traditional liturgical life.

You're still left with the problem of explaining to your kids why you have to drive past four Catholic churches to go to Mass. A "state of emergency" is however, an easier theoretical concept to grasp than a "hermeneutic of continuity".

Mac McLernon said...

The New Code of Canon Law doesn't say that you have to go to your local parish church on Sunday, just that you have to go to Mass on Sunday...

...this is, apparently, a change from the previous code...

Moretben said...

Quite so, Mac. It also says that canonical penalties aren't binding in a "state of emergency", which is why I've been able to live with my present - erm - "arrangements". It can't go on indefinitely, though.

Ttony said...

Mac: I have no realistic alternative. The frying pan is on top of a big hot fire.

Ben's choice is, as he says, unsatisfactory, just not as unsatisfactory as the alternative. I can't imagine cutting myself off from everything the parish and diocese provide - well, I couldn't until recently. Imagine how dire things really are when that is an alternative which merits consideration, never mind actual acceptance

Moretben said...

What made it easier at the time was the move(house)to a new parish (same Diocese). In my old deanery, we'd had more-or-less monthly indult Masses and the parish "11.30" "wasn't too bad" (what have we come to when what ought to be the crown of the week is recommended in such terms?). I even used to serve it from time to time. I gave up ever attending SSPX-celebrated Masses for about five years. Then I moved here. I attended one Sunday and one festal Mass before swearing never again to set foot in the place. I began going to the large parish at the other end of the deanery, where an excellent curate did his best within the surrounding culture of liturgical decadence: a full set of vestments, some chant, reverence, sound, orthodox preaching. Then he left. Overnight the principal Sunday Mass was turned into an approximation of the one I'd fled. My first child had just been born. I simply couldn't see how I was going to bring her up in the Faith, in that culture; more likely, repeated exposure to it would destroy what remained of mine. The decider was the new bishop's first pastoral letter. The obligatory peroration in praise of the wonderful renewal of the Church's life following the Council, led up to an invitation to us laity to consider how we intended to "meet the challenge" of have no priests in a few short years. Whatever the idea of "communion" involves, I don't think parallel universes for the living have ever been addressed by theologians or canonists. I therefore decided there and then to "meet the challenge" by going where vocations to the priesthood were relatively plentiful.

Moretben said...

I forgot to mention: I wrote a long, no doubt very tiresome letter to Cardinal Castrillion, explaining my decision and why I considered it inescapable. I got a kind and courteous letter back from Mgr Perl, declining to "excommunicate" me; declining too, to engage with any of the points I'd raised; recommending only that I continue to pray for the Church and the Holy Father.