I have been pleasantly surprised by the Carmelites recently. Coming in to their priory on Kensington Church Street one day a bit late for Mass, what do I see but people receiving communion, kneeling at an altar rail. Further study showed quite a lot of them receiving on the tongue. This of course doesn’t make the place a perfect parish in itself, there were still so many of the NO goings on that a you’d need a bit more than a stick if you’d want to shake something at them. That, obviously because we are still talking about a NO Mass..
Getting to a daily Mass is harder than what one might think. Especially so if you want to go only to the classical form of the Mass. There simply doesn’t seem to be any around that fit into my commuting times, they are either a bit too late in the morning or then too early in the afternoon for me to be able to get to them.
What then of the NO options? There too the Mass times mostly keep outside the hours that would be suitable. Of the churches around where I live and work only two seem to have Mass times that are suitable for daily attendance, both unfortunately NO. (Curiously both happen to be priories, one Carmelite on my way to work and one Dominican a short buss ride from the office.) Every now and then the LMS throws a Mass far away in the city which one might be able to get to every now and then.
So are NO Masses the answer if one wants to go to a daily Mass? I’m not happy about the idea but I don’t see very much else around.
There was a rather embarrassing documentary called “Jesus Camp” on yesterday. It primarily followed kids on the way to and on a Bible camp, also giving ample time to a ‘youth minister’ of the female persuasion. A bit of a battleaxe. Interspersed with the takes from the kids was those of a radio DJ -if that’s the word I’m looking for- who was not very taken with the ‘evangelical Christian’ ideas for society. Something of a woolly-eyed liberal. Much was made of the increasingly political role of the Christian Right in the American colonies, perhaps more than of the treatment of the kids. Now, is it bad if I think that their take on how to organize a Christian society is, well, a bit liberal? Thought so…
These commentators, camp leaders etc. still fall into the heresy of Americanism which is an idea of accommodation to secular society and a form of proto-modernism e.g. separating Church and state, supporting all-out parliamentary democracy etc. contrary to the prescriptions of among other writings of the Holy See; Quanta Cura. Therefore their ideas of a happier, more Christian USA are deeply flawed. These ‘radicals’ simply aren’t radical enough. That of course is apart from them basing their ideas on the false, sandy foundation of protestantism rather than on the bedrock of Catholic Truth.
Most of what made it an embarrassing thing to watch was the simple thing that the objects of the documentary were some of the worst happy-clappy charismatics I’ve seen on TV, helped of course by some prejudicial editing. The lack of intellectual depth and prudence among some of these groups keeps surprising me, adding to the embarrassment.
Unlike the UK, the Holy See continues to celebrate Corpus Christi on the proper day. EWTN had a wonderful coverage of the Mass at St Peter’s Square and the procession to st Maria Maggiore. The most interesting development is how communion was given. Reception kneeling and on the tongue was the norm at least where the holy father gave out communion, one can even see the communion plate in use.
Here is Benedict XVI giving communion to one of the religious that assisted at the Mass:
The Dominicans baffle me. I have heard some very good things about them during the last year or so, one of their number was highly praised by a friend in Leicestershire for his devout celebration of Mass – in the old form of course. Another one is the chaplain to the Society of Saint Gregory the Great, the Finnish Latin Mass Society. Yet a third skillfully refuted the atheist ramblings in Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, the billboard makers that sold Dawkins and told you to “join the debate” chose to make it a monologue and never advertised the refutations, as one could expect. Beginning on the real Corpus Christi and ending on Sunday they have the Quarant’ Ore (40 hours devotion)- at least at the priory in London.
Now, some of the readers here know that I’m discerning a vocation to the priesthood, at the least my post about visiting the seminary should have made that clear. Following a recommendation from someone who encouraged me to get in touch with the Order of Preachers I went up to St Dominic’s Priory at Southampton road here in London the other day. Mass was pretty mainstream; altargirls(poorly trained), something that definitely wasn’t the Roman Canon, an Altar facing the wrong way, communion in the hand, Eucharistic monsters handling the chalice .. However, the music was fairly good -gregorian- despite several choir members being on pilgrimage to Walsingham. The priests seemed sound enough in a conservative, NO sort of way, until full of enthusiasm one of them told me about the upcoming visit to Blackfriars Hall in Oxford (their house of study) by none other than the Dalai Lama. The mixed messages leave me scratching my head in some confusion as to what to think about them.
I took the time yesterday evening to go to a pub in Holborn for a Theology-on-Tap session. It’s a program for young adults apparently arranged by the Jesuits, the format was simple enough some socializing, a talk, a break to get more beer, group discussions and a short general discussion. The theme for this Thursday was Catholic schools, more specifically the state sponsored ones. These schools get around 90% of their funding from various government sources and as far as I understood they make up the vast majority of Catholic schools. The speaker for the evening was the father provincial of the Jesuits in the UK, a former headmaster at the society’s school in Wimbledon. He presented us with the arguments raised against faith schools most of which -aside from parental choice of schools- correlate with the arguments around the role of religion in society. His colleague then proceeded to refute them. This presentation left a bit to desire e.g. the role and purpose of faith schools while it -apparently only for me- raised some concerns about the ideas about multiculturalism, interfaith collaboration and therefore the relativism inherent in the present system.
At the group discussion we were presented with a number of points for discussion out of which my group only got to no 1, whether or not it’s legitimate for the state to fund schools that are more or less exclusively tied to a particular religion. I think I was the only one who said that it’s not only legitimate but even a duty for the state to do so. Even without relating the discussion to the infallible judgments in Quanta Cura, parental control of the child’s education would require the state to support schools of this type.
It was an interesting evening and an educational foray into modernist territory, that otherwise well educated Catholics can come up with and support such liberalist and releativist attitudes as those I heard baffles me. If I am not busy it would be interesting to see what they have to say on the next occasion when the subject is the Eucharist.
I just got back from the Paris to Chartres pilgrimage on Tuesday evening, complete with French Royalist propaganda and sore feet.
The sun shone down on us mercilessly throughout the pilgrimage, I got away with some minor sunburns on my arms. The whole event was very impressive and for three days or so one could almoust forget about all the problems in the Church today, there was nothing but full, traditional Catholicism as far as anyone could see. Granted, proper posture and dress sense is lacking among some of the younger pilgrims but perhaps one can be charitable and assume that the kid who was sleeping his way through the final Mass was suffering from heat exhaustion. I must admit that I too dozed off during the homily outside the cathedral in Chartres, not knowing french it simply wasn’t engaging at all.
All in all it was a hot, grueling, exhausting and lovely little stroll.
Pictures and more when available.