21 February 2010

Some Good News

I'm not much of a joiner, mainly because joining something implies signing up to a checklist of things, and I often find that while I'm happy with some of them, I'm not with the rest; or it might be that the tone of the list is a bit too peremptory or too didactic. I blogged ages ago about looking for a successor to The Spectator and I've still not found one, because nothing really talks straight to me: I buy the Catholic Herald most weeks, but it's a mixture of duty and to read Stuart Reid, Mary Kenny and Dear Fr Tim; I buy The Oldie, but I end up wishing Alan Coren was still editing Punch.

This is a long-winded way of explaining why I'm considered a bit of a lukewarm Tridentinist, and why I've never joined, for example, the Latin Mass Society. I love the EF, and in particular I love serving it (something I do increasingly regularly as I seem to have become a "cotta for hire" locally, especially as the hire is free) but I'm not a proselytiser for it: my family have never attended an EF Mass and show no interest in ever doing so, and I can't get too bothered because they show a reciprocal interest in attending OF Mass. The LMS feels like an organisation that is after people a bit more militant than me: people who will take a stand, people who are prepared to be apologists and stand at some version of Speakers' Corner; that's not me.

The priests I serve for tend to come from a different starting place. There isn't one of them who will entertain a question like "Which form of Mass do you prefer?" if the question expects a binary OF versus EF answer. These are priests who say Mass reverently, in accordance with the rubrics, and whose job is to re-present God's Sacrifice of His Son at the Altar every day. Some masses are quieter, and verging on the silent; others are louder and verging on the completely sung. Some Masses have a choir and organ; others have a "music group" and an infinity of instruments. Some Masses have many people in the congregation; at others the priest might have nobody but his server. OF or EF just doubles the variety of possible answers (though to be fair, I've not yet attended EF Mass with a folk group). There are two forms of the Roman Rite, and they say them both, and ordinarily they use the OF, and extraordinarily they use the EF.

This, to me, seems like a healthy way of escaping from the prison of thinking that the "Spirit of Vatican II" is the way that VII has to be defined. This is Benedictine Catholicism (and might in fact, if I were to really study the matter, be a fruit of JPII Catholicsm which loosed off new movements left, right, and centre, in an apparent bow to the spirit of VII, but really in a way of guaranteeing a rainbow of orthodox and unliberal witnesses to the Catholic Faith, but let's save that for now) and the way ahead, in that we learn about how we have come to where we are, and understand what we have brought with us. It also removes the Mass from the battlefield of "liberal versus trad" dialogue, and moves the discussion towards the degree to which we have to engage with the modern world, based on a foundation of sound Liturgy in both forms.

So what is all this wittering about? Well, I was talking to a mate earlier, who asked me if I had seen this from Fr Michael Brown, or this from Fr Bede Rowe. It turns out that more than 5% of the active diocesan priests from the Clifton Diocese have just come back from an FSSP retreat, and that this number does not include all of the EF-celebrating priests from that Diocese. Every single one of these priests is like the ones I serve for: they say OF Masses in their parishes for OF-loving Catholics all the time; yet they have also understood that the Church in England and Wales has been heading further and further into a cul-de-sac in which social action has replaced worship as the shibboleth for Catholic identity.

Look at the picture accompanying both of these articles: the priests aren't all young; they aren't all dressed like nineteenth century French PPs: they are just priests, and magnificently so. But in one of the south coast Dioceses, the clergy are on the march.

The future's bright, and the future isn't orange.


Simon Platt said...


Anonymous said...

Do you think you could get them to march a little further along the coast?!!

Mike Cliffson said...

Well said!
I wonder abt yr leaving 4 now comments on "JPII rainbow of orthodox and unliberal" ...? unliberal being not in the USA sense of liberal?
An evangelical-I imagine- commenter on yr blog once ended a thread saying where's Jesus Christ in all this?
He didn't appreciate that 4 yourself and abt 7 comments, this was a "given" - (and seldom can a modern turn of phrase be more accurate- being baptized and in Christ's body, the church , is umnerited, free gratis and for nothing.) The word we used to use a bit more was grace.

Also speaking for myself, it's difficult to have a sense of sin and publicy be known as a Christian and then be anywise publicly critical without causing scandal.
Ihave a ( private only locally known?) beam in my eye, there is a speck in my brother's, but my brother is a holy bishop or in a position, such as an authority
in education , depending on a bishop, and said speck is a flagrant nationally known scandal......
So hard to be at peace in the knowledge that the holy spirit is in charge of the chuch's holyness, it doesn't depend on our luthering abt and bounding and plunging and amking war.

Dorothy B said...

This is very good news, and particularly encouraging given the strange "radio silence" in which the EF Mass is kept in a certain part of the diocese. I hope those who were worried enough to impose this silence, and have maintained it for almost a year and a half now, will soon feel more comfortable and optimistic, and will let the local parishioners know about the treasure that is in their midst.

Ttony said...

Simon: sorry; it was just a bad pun, though I suppose calling dissenting Catholics "Catholic Orangemen" might have the result of annoying the largest possible number of people for the smallest possible effort.

Joseph Shaw said...

2The LMS feels like an organisation that is after people a bit more militant than me: people who will take a stand, people who are prepared to be apologists and stand at some version of Speakers' Corner; that's not me."

You'd be very welcome in the LMS, Ttony, we don't expect everyone to stand up at Speaker's Corner - that would be quite crush and we allow some diversity of charisms!

By serving the Mass you are actively involved in supporting it. Most people can support only by attending and paying a sub to the LMS.

Simon Platt said...

I see: "catholic orangemen".

I've never heard that before, but I can see how it might be considered apt in some cases.

I'm glad to say I've never come across the orangemen myself; "catholic orangemen" is the nearest I've come.