Monday, 12 June 2017

See How They Love One Another

Since the Second Vatican Council, great effort has been made to stop Roman Catholics from despising any religious group--except other Roman Catholics.

My childhood parish church was run for decades, I now suspect, by highly Marian crypto-trads, but over the years I have heard this or that other priest slagging off  his 'conservative' bishop, the 'conservative' pope, or "the bad old days", meaning Church history between Pentecost and 1963.

All this does not fall upon deaf ears. When I was six or seven--very small indeed--a Catholic teacher in my Catholic school told me the Society of St Pius X (the SSPX) were a bunch of dangerous crazies, and I believed her. I think I must have been asking what had happened to "the Old Mass", for when I was a child I couldn't understand why my experiences of Mass didn't match up with the descriptions of Mass in books.

My childhood priests (or the Archdiocese of Toronto) loaned the Church to the small Armenian Catholic community, and nobody thought about them much. Their celebrations must have been late in the afternoon, after all our Masses and our Coffee Hour. Occasionally I would find in the church hall incomprehensible literature in a strange script. The Armenians were a mysterious and invisible presence, but I thought no ill of them until some Armenians threatened to set off a bomb in our subway (metro) system. My mind flew to the cryptic messages in the church basement. Hopefully my mother sorted out my childish fears about the innocent people who met there.

Given this childhood memory of loaning the church to the Armenians, I am all the more staggered by the attitude of some parishioners at the Edinburgh church where the local FSSP priest says Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. They scowl at Catholics who come to this Mass, and then complain that we do not acknowledge them.

They have made witty jests at our expense after the Novus Ordo Mass in the church in loud voices while those who have come early for the Old Rite (like me) take their places to pray.

Someone has turned the heat on on warm days, and someone has turned the heat off on cold days.

An archdiocesan priest was overheard in the sacristy bad-mouthing the Old Rite--our Old Rite--to some doting laity.

If as much as a crumb is left on the parish hall floor after our Coffee Hour, there is much moaning about our iniquity.

Baptisms and meeting have again and again been scheduled during the Coffee Hour, so that it is cancelled or--if nobody tells the FSSP priest--we are told to leave.

What makes this particularly pathetic is that sectarianism was, until recently, part of Edinburgh daily life. Good Edinburgh Catholics sneered at the Prots. Good Edinburgh Protestants reviled the Fenian scum. Those days (and most church-goers) are gone, but I get a strong impression that some Catholic Scots really, really miss having someone to hate. And who better to hate than those people who cling to that fancy-pants Mass? Surely it's not as if any of us can actually understand Latin. Who do we think we are?  We're all liturgical fur coat and nae living faith knickers. They kent our fathers. Et Edinburgh cetera.

Generally we just put up with it. The FSSP doesn't have its own church, and those who love the FSSP Mass are growing in number, so we don't all fit in the chapel. It's not like we're living before the Penal Days Summorum Pontificum, but all the same we don't want to rock the boat. We understand that the "parishioners" think they own the place, and maybe, morally, they do.

However, I've had had quite enough. Yesterday it was rainy, so those who go to the Old Rite on Sundays scooted into the church hall rather more quickly than usual, and we had a wonderful Coffee Hour. There is a new American family with six lovely children, and a new French au pair who hopes to improve her English while she is here. There were two men--a local and and Austrian--in smart Highland dress eating a quick packed lunch before embarking on a motor trip through the Highlands. There was a young newly-married Anglo-American couple. There were university students, undergrads and grads, including a young married Portuguese couple. An English girl washed up the cups, The atmosphere was friendly, hospitable and joyful.

And then the word went around: the Parish Council were about to have a meeting and they wanted us out.

Sluggishly, we began to move. Those sitting at the tables got up and moved towards the exit. However, we didn't stop chatting. Chat, chat, chat. We bottle-necked at the door and continued chatting as we waited for space to move. I barely noticed the small group of sixty-somethings take their place at a table. Chat, chat, chat. But then a furious little white-haired man suddenly stormed up to us and began to splutter. "Could...could you... PLEASE LEAVE!" he barked, his voice cracking hysterically.

An awful hush fell over the crowd. We stared at him and at each other. Behind him a large old woman stood as if to back him in some physical battle. She scowled. He scowled.

I tried to think of something witty to say, but the only thing that came to mind was the old song "My father he was Orange and my mother she was Green", and I invariably get that mixed up because it was my mother's parents who were Orange. The message my mind was giving me was this was JUST MORE SECTARIAN NONSENSE, only, bizarrely, the two sects were Roman Catholics who go to the Noon Mass and Roman Catholics who go to the 10:30 AM. 

Anyway, we Noonies slouched out the door, and in the car park I observed aloud that the average age in the parish hall had gone up by 30 years. The young American bride confessed that she had been just thinking that herself. Nevertheless, I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, and it stayed there for hours.

I don't know what on earth the secular clergy are teaching people at the early Mass, but if they are teaching brotherly love, the Parish Council hasn't got the message.

Diet-Vocab Pact Day 4: Squirrel managed to eat about 800 calories yesterday, and here is what she reports. Recall that she is 5' 4". I caution Squirrel to drink a lot of water to replace the water she is no longer getting from food. That is 150 lbs.


  1. Melina (the Canadian reader you met after Mass in March)12 June 2017 at 15:05

    Your problems are not unique to Edinburgh, as I'm sure you're aware. It's the same story here in Calgary, AB. Shared diocesan-FSSP parish, but of course the FSSP are given but the crusts. The new diocesan pastor started off by naming the hall "Vatican II Hall" (which my trad-minded Ordinariate pastor countered by naming the meeting hall at his parish "Benedict XVI Hall"). He moved on to banning confessions by the FSSP priests on Sundays and moving their high Mass even later, from noon to 12:30pm, because noon wasn't inconvenient enough for all the big young families. Then he said the parishioners weren't allowed to hold candles during vigil Masses such as Candlemas or Easter Vigil, because of course they're going to drop wax everywhere and burn the carpet (hasn't ever happened). Most recently he's actually stolen the tabernacle veils owned by the FSSP and refused to give them back, because he doesn't like visible signs of Christ's presence on the altar. They have no idea what's become of the veils. Oh and there was the year the bishop shut down the TLM entirely for several weeks because the priest refused to give communion in the hand instead of on the tongue during the swine flu scare - the priest offering to simply not give communion to the parish wasn't good enough, he HAD to give it in the hand (he didn't, and we all went Ukrainian for the duration).
    It's irritating as all get out and they ought to be ashamed, but aren't.

    1. I wonder what they are going to say when they are asked about all this at their Particular Judgement? Of course, many priests will be utterly astonished that there is a Particular Judgement. My pal Ann Barnhardt is pretty sure a good many priests don't actually believe any of this.

    2. I wonder how they justify these things to themselves. I mean, really - how does the diocesan priest STEAL tabernacle veils and convince himself he's doing a good thing?

    3. Maybe he thinks its HIS tabernacle? But even so I cannot see how he could convince himself that those are HIS tabernacle veils.

  2. Oh and the FSSP priest isn't allowed to set out any holy water blessed in the old rite, or even give it out privately to anyone on the grounds. Petty much?

    1. That's

      Did you read my old "Mad Trad" columns for the...get this... "Prairie Messenger"? Managing to write glorious traditionalist liturgical and theological stuff in the PM for 26 weeks (13 biweekly columns in all) is one of my proudest achievements!

    2. I may have read some when you linked to them on your old Seraphic Singles blog, but I'm not familiar with the Prairie Messenger outside of that. I guess it's liberal? How did you convince them to let you write about trad stuff?

    3. The editor, a woman of taste, really liked "Seraphic Singles (the book) and asked me to write for them. I said I'd like to write about devotions and call it "Mad Trad Corner." The editor thought that was funny, and she was open to having a little diversity in her paper.

      However, her old boss, the former editor--and a cleric--came down on her like a pile of ripped-out altar. The poor woman put up a valiant fight, but in the end she wrote me a screed on my "clericalism" and cancelled the whole. And that's how the West was lost--not just me losing my column (which I expected from week to week), but how the West is being robbed of true faith in Christ: all that obsession with singing a New Church into being NO MATTER WHAT.

  3. It is not at all like this in our diocese. There is a Latin mass church and they are friendly and welcoming. When they previously held mass at a chapel, there were no issues. An increasing number of women veil at the NO. A few NO masses are ad orientum during the Eucharistic prayer and one has male-only altar servers. We aren't Lincoln, NE with year-round obligatory Fish Fridays, but we there is probably the real spirit of Vatican II happening here (rooted in tradition and reverence).

  4. So, true! I recently also contemplated about John 13, 34-35. I feel, earnestly have to find a way to approach the "church liberals" and vice versa. Maybe we could start with harmless things like common social activities - plus of course: dance nights? Michael

  5. 'Parish Council'. There's your problem. I still have no idea why such bodies exist.