Monday, March 12, 2007

The McCauley sisters


When I was an assistant priest in St Leonards I had a young woman who had discharged herself from the local psychiatric hospital, she claimed she had be sexually abused by a psychiatrist, she was sleeping on the beach. Very vulnerable, very frightened. The next time I said Mass I asked if anyone could take this girl in for a day or two. The only people to offer were these two sisters, the McCauley's, Irish women, in their late sixties, both were nurses, one had married, the other had remained single. I had always been wary of them, they were very much into the Old Mass, they weren’t quite taken seriously by the other clergy in the presbytery, there were three of us then, now there is one.
Anyhow they took this girl in, they had a room in their house for “Life”, just in case any woman wanted to keep their baby and needed somewhere to say. They took the girl in, not for a day or too but for six months, she had lots of problems, it really wasn’t at all that easy, she had real mental health problems, while she was with them they retaught her her faith. She said the Rosary with them in the evening, came to weekday Mass with them, gradually they helped her to come to terms with all that had happened to her. I would like to say that they got her back on her feet but the truth is one day she simply disappeared.
Recently I needed a home for another young girl who needed to get out of Brighton, this time it was a couple that offered to help, the members of my parish couldn’t, and again they were devoted to the Old Rite .
Those who come to the Tridentine Mass we have once a month in this parish can be counted on one’s fingers and toes, there are lots of reasons for this, mainly that it has happened until now in the middle of the afternoon and even once a month the priest hasn’t always been able to get here, the weather has been foul, we have moved it to 6pm but it has been dark even so working on these numbers the numbers in this country who want the Old Mass are minute. I used to be very anti, we were taught to be dismissive of it in the seminary, as we were of pre-Concilliar theology and even of such ultra-conservatives as Ratzinger, I used to wrap his books in brown paper covers.
Yet the story I relate made me rethink my attitude, it was practical Christianity, these two sisters were hard nosed, and yet they saw not a problem but a soul. I am fascinated by the huge number of seminarians and monks in the modern Old Rite seminaries and monasteries, and even convents. I am taken aback by the zeal of the two FSSP priests who drive from Reading to Brighton to celebrate Mass for less than twenty, they want to celebrate weekly, we await the Motu Proprio.
Personally I don’t really want to celebrate the Old Rite, because of the poverty of my Latin, my poor memory for texts, but it isn’t the Liturgy that fascinates me, it is actually the spirituality. When we talk of “Rite” we do mean the words and rubrics, but there is a broader meaning of the word which involves people and spirituality, the way in which people live out their faith, the sense of God that people have, the way in which they catechise their children, the home environment they create, the values they have, the understanding of "man" they have. The question is, can we have what the adherents of the Rite have, without the Rite?

26 comments:

Ttony said...

Father, can I be the first person to mention "lex orandi, lex credendi"?

Peter said...

If, or when, the Motu Proprio comes it won't make much difference to the average parish because there is little or no demand for it. But it will silence the aggrieved who think it is the solution for the future. They will no longer have a constituency as their requests will have been granted. Nor will it halt the slow decline of the Church in the West

Henry said...

The answer to your question is probably not.

But even such differences as the type of music used and the way things are laid out on the sanctuary and the position of the priest and servers makes a huge difference.

We have got fixated on the silly notion that words are the most important thing in life, whereas what counts is the entire action.

Jon said...

"can we have what the adherents of the Rite have without the Rite?"

No, Father, you can't. As Tony said, "lex orandi, lex credendi."

As for Peter, I don't know if you're in the UK or not, but I'm in the US. Pennsylvania to be exact. Our indult Mass doesn't attract twenty, but two-hundred fifty to three-hundred each week. Our bishop (Harrisburg) allows it in an exquisite, un-wreckovated, 100 year-old French gothic church just a few hundred yard from his cathedral.

Mass is at 10am Sunday each Sunday morning. We also have Mass on holy days and exceptional days like Ash Wednesday.

The parish is young and vibrant. My wife and I are 44 years old. My oldest son, who's 12, has EASILY mastered the Latin to serve Mass (and understands what he's saying, incidentally). We drive 30 miles one way to Mass. No great sacrifice. Our young, 33 year-old priest on the other hand, a member of the FSSP, drives 2 hours one way, to get to our church. He had dinner here at our house with us last night, driving 30 minutes out of his way. He stayed with us five hours last evening, and then drove home to be at the boarding school where he teaches in time for Compline with the boys he teaches at 10:30. Before leaving, he fetched his Roman Ritual from his car, and blessed our house, sprinkling holy water about. He then blessed my family, with my wife and young boys kneeling on the floor to receive his benediction.

This sort of Catholic life is dead in the Novus Ordo. It will continue to die. If the Holy Father does move as expected to restore the old Mass to the Church, trust me, his real motivation is to to restore the Church and save the West. And it will happen. Trust me.

Father, being as intrigued as you are for the reasons adherents of the Old Rite feel as they do, I might begin by sitting down with a translation of the Novus Ordo and Traditional Ordinaries side by side, and ask yourself, "which of these speaks to me as a priest?"

Good luck. You're in my prayers.

Moretben said...

Small world, Father. I know the sisters well. I used to live in the next parish to yours at St Leonards, and for a time organised the Old Rite masses that used regularly to be said in the local hospice chapel. The day after my first wife's death was the feast of Candlemas, and I brought my brother-in-law, who had flown in from New York for a last word with his sister (he arrived fifteen minutes too late). The Mass was sung by the young curate who had driven fifty miles from his parish to sit with my wife into the small hours, two days earlier. Her brother, a liberal Catholic for whom the "Latin Mass" he had served as a child had disappeared from the radar for thirty years, was absolutely astounded. He kept talking about "the early church" afterwards and the "spirit of the early church". I don't suppose either of us was especially coherent in the circumstances, but there was no mistaking the profound effect of that Mass on my brother-in-law. It really shook him up, and caused him to question a great number of things he had been taking for granted most of his adult life - among them, ironically, the then universally asserted claim that the Novus Ordo was "closer to the spirit and practice of the early Church".

Three days later my wife lay in that extravagantly pre-Raphaelite sanctuary of your old parish church as the first High Mass of Requiem in thirty years was sung over her. These marvelous sisters were in attendance, together with other quietly faithful, inconspicuous Traditional Catholics, since gone to their reward. May they rest in peace.

Moretben said...

Sorry, Father - I completely neglected to answer your question.

No.

Pastor in Valle said...

I'm rather sticking my neck out here, Father, by identifying myself, but I have to confess that the difficulty is that in a sense everyone is right on this one. The new rites are certainly valid; they present in an unbloody fashion the one all-sufficient sacrifice of our Lord on Calvary ex opere operato and so do give glory to God and sanctify the people. The problem is that they don't do it as well (partly ex opere operantis) as the old rites do. They are less efficient tools, and one has to run a lot faster to make them work, if I can put it like that.
Someone said to me recently that the new rites are 'poison'. That is patently not true, (I would't celebrate them if I thought that) but I think that they are less nourishing than the old rites. People have become accustomed to the new rites; they are sweet to the taste for many people, just as a child might wish to eat nothing but ice cream, despising the meat and vegetables which don't immediately taste so nice, but which do really nourish — and which, once the taste has been acquired, are perceived by the taster as being infintely more satisfying.

And I remember Miss McAuley; a fine lady.

Quo Vadis said...

One thing has always struck me about the medieval period, is that people ‘lived’ through the liturgy and the yearly cycles of the Church. Their days, months and years, from birth to death, were regulated by it, and it was through it that they gave expression to their existence. It formed the basis for seeing the world and their fellow man. The liturgy wasn’t just something you did. This was no superficial expression as can be seen from everything material and ideological which has been left to us. Yes, it was no ‘golden age’ but it’s the spirit or spirituality that to me answers so much as to what made many of the people do what they did in totally selfless ways. The reality of the world in a material sense was not the whole story, and the Mass certainly reinforced this.

Yesterday in answer to a question on WDTPRS I made a comment about Pius XII’s encyclicals on the Mystical Body of Christ. These in relation to the liturgy and the life of the Church both lay and clerical form, I think, a fascinating expression of so many ideas and even the questions that you pose. I think that the pre-Vatican II liturgy reinforces so much of this and a much truer sense of ‘community’ too, a community which would be more united in its liturgical expression, but also aware of its origins and connection with what lies beyond the here and now. Right now we have become like children without our family history, in some ways. The ‘old’ Mass in particular contains such a deep spiritual expression of mystery and doctrine, which in turn reinforces the understanding of a reality of existence beyond matter and material life. It is totally Christ centred. There is no room for doubt.

So… in practical terms why does this have an effect? Well I am sure it is extremely complicated, but some generalizations can be made.

Someone already said ‘lex orandi, lex credendi’ totally. It is because the liturgy is Christ centred that therefore it will inform acts which are Christ centred. But this doesn’t mean that a new liturgy can’t exist, or that the Missal of Pius V is the only way. No things can change, indeed they have over the millennia, BUT and here is the HUGE BUT… so as to reflect the doctrine of the Church and be in fact Christ centred, and retaining a reflection of God mystery. Make it ordinary and it looses its purpose and attraction and therefore stops teaching that there is mystery. People need to be shown and lead into a meaning and expression of life beyond the temporary, the material of here and now. It’s that which will be ‘the light’ to lead in darkness. This is far from easy, as for forty odd years (and perhaps longer) people having grown up without this leadership and mystery don’t even know where to start finding it. There is no quick fix.

Hebdomadary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr Ray Blake said...

A bit more about Angela and Rita McCauley, they used to help me when i took over as prison chaplain at Northeye in Bexhill. The prisoners seemed to love them, they took no nonsense but actually indulged them terribly, acting as surrogate aunts, giving sensible advice normally about love lives and bearing crosses.
I am so pleased that some of you knew these remarkable catholic ladies.
Sadly, I gradually lost contact with them after I moved and they moved from their house in St Leonards to a flat in Bexhill.

Moretben said...

Dear Peter

If you believe this a question simply of indulging the grievances of a handful of irreconcileables so as to silence their complaints, I fear you have failed entirely to read the signs of the times.

Moretben said...

I'm sorry to hog your combox Father, but in telling that story about my brother-in-law, I notice I missed out the most important thing: what had impressed him most profoundly, and provoked all his reflections about "touching the early Church" was not the chant, or the Latin or the orientation of the priest - but something about the congregation themselves.

Hebdomadary said...

Father, I think I may have misunderstood the gist of your posting when I read it earlier. It was early, I'd just awoken, and it will teach me to attempt to read before having the first cup of tea of the day! I thought you were criticizing the traditionalists in your parish for not having enough practical christian charity. If I understand the posting correctly now, you are asking whether the practical christianity exemplified by these two traditionalist sisters, and the zeal exemplified by the FSSP and other crowded traditionalist orders could be achieved in the new rite, without the liturgy.

I have to say, unfortunately, I doubt it. The trend over the past forty years has been consistently negative in terms of numbers, both in terms of vocations, and in terms of cash. If the Novus Ordo church were going to be able to achieve a rebirth, forty years is plent of time to manifest it. It's not looking good for the reform, no matter how convenient and comfortable it is for some, even most.

Not that it's going to disappear, and not that the trend is going to be cured overnight by the Motu Proprio, but the reason the traditional mass is being restored is because it not only never died, but flourished with the SSPX, first in the church (before 1987), then outside it for the past twenty years, and inside it - again for the past twenty years - under the aegis of the FSSP, ICK, et al. Fruit. It's all about fruit.

I'm not saying that Novus Ordites are wicked or anything, just that the church that surrounds them doesn't reinforce the kind of supernatural values that lead go supernatural acts of heroic charity, like opening your crowded home to a mental case, or a old imbezzler dying of a brain tumour, or...you name it. As I see it, the novus ordo church being an intentional reflection of the society which makes it up, views the cardinal virtues on an ethical basis, rather than a moral imperitives. This is where the mindset of your McCauley sisters come from. Bless them.

And "Peter said...", I think your mistaken; I think the presence of the traditional mass WILL, in fact, halt the slow decline of the Church in the West. The Traditional Roman Rite is the foundation of our society, our art, our liturature, our philosophy, our civilization. And if the foundation remains strong, the building can be re-erected. Without the foundation, all is truly lost. But this is a foundation that can never be taken away. Deo Gratias.

John said...

I was at a confirmation recently, as a sponsor of a fifteen year old. The bishop obviously didn't believe in the rites of the Church he was celebrating. Any sense of the sacred was played down. When we came to the bishop, he vaguely laid hands the head of the candidate whilst annointing her, then he chatted briefly, about nothing really, like meeting the Queen, he shook her hand and sent her on her way.

It seemed more of a Graduation Ceremony than the bestowing of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
I will not mention his name but it seemed pretty obvious that he had no concept of the action of God through him. Indeed it seemed he wanted to obscure it. Everything he did was obscured by his personality.
It was such a contrast with a confirmation celebrated by Bishop Hopes of Westminster, in Latin, in the present Rite, at which I was also a sponsor.

Anonymous said...

Wait and see.

Olive said...

I am a regular reader of 'Mass of Ages', the magazine of the Latin Mass Society. A friend passes it on. I enjoy the optimism of the articles but the accounts of the regional Masses at the back tell a different story. Constantly there are appeals for new local organisers because the present ones are often too old or unwell to continue, accounts of cancelled Masses because priests cannot be found to say them, small congregations that pose a threat to their continuity. In London things are different, and some of the annual diocesan events in cathedrals are better supported. The contrast is dramatic. Sorry though I am to agree, I think, on this evidence, that Peter might have a point. The situation in America is, I believe, entirely differfent but it is a bigger country with a more polarised Church than England and Wales.

Maureen Pickering said...

John, the big crisis is the post - Concilliar Church no longer believes in God.

Father, during your rather impressive homily on Sunday you told that old story about the statue that had had its hands blown off and to which a priest had attached a sign saying, "I have no hands but you". Well, isn't this i9s the problem with, the Church today. We forget that God does indeed have other hands, I suppose this is one aspect of the theology of Angels, insofar as God normally needs the co-operation of Man but is not dependant on it.
The theology of Traditional Catholicism and Orthodoxy is that we live and move in God's world. Whatever comes God is at work, God is in charge. It is not a question of Rite especially, it is a question of expectation and confidence, of faith and of hope.
For all its "fizz" the 1960s where an incredibly depressive time, the Liturgy and Theology of that period reflect that.
We turned our backs on the past, we thought every think depended on us, it was the age of revolution and individualism. We had the sense that we were the saviours of the world, that God had no power but through us, "no hands but us".

Hebdomadary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr Ray Blake said...

Maureen, I have been thinking about what you said, I see your point, put it down to vestiges of 1960's liberalism.
I like your point about Angels too. We are called be co-operators with God. A Saint, I suppose is one who co-operates with God, but you are so right God is not in need of us, but the incarnation means that God chooses to rely on us. But God does have other hands than us.
I correct this error.

Hebdomadary said...

Padre, I took this down to edit it a little. I wrote it rather quickly. However, I do stand by it wholeheartedly.

Anonymous said..."Wait and see."

Anon, I'm not yelling or trying to pick a fight or anything, but I must contradict your statement: I'm not waiting around to see anything. If I did, the situation would only get worse. Rather, I want to point out that wherever in the church you see traditional and traditionally oriented hands applying themselves to the situation, things seem to be getting better. Whereas, in the broader church in OUR civilization, and by that I mean, northern hemisphere and western Europe/America, where they are NOT being applied, dioceses are going bankrupt under the weight of the spirit of the world infecting the workings and orientations of the church.

For instance: yesterday, our priest - meaning well - cited an old liberal chestnut in his homily on Christian action. It's the one that goes, "When they came for the Communists, I was silent, and said nothing; when they came for the socialists, I was silent and said nothing...etc, etc...and when they came for me, there was no one left to say anything." This parable, I think, illustrates quite well the divergence in approach between the new church mentality and the old one. It is about words, rather than actions. The same man who is quoting it was quite silent when "they" came for the church's venerable liturgy, it's moral imperatives, its objectivity, and replaced them with relative values and socially reingineered ethics.

Besides, the purpose of this story is rooted in "I'm ok, you're ok" relativism, and is a ploy to get people to sympathise with the very groups who have persecuted the church over the span of the last century (as well as persecuting the Jews, who are inevitably lumped into this homogeneous group), groups such as Communists, national socialists, athiests. 'Defend everybody, all the time.' Well, no, I won't defend communism and athiesm, I attaack it; and when national socialism came for the Jews and everyone else, my country (and yours) went to war against it, and it was a just war. If I had lived in that time, I'd like to think that I would have been one of the ones who was "coming for" the Nazis tooth and nail. That was (partly) christian action in action.

This parable is not suitable material for a homily. Instead of moral imperative, what we got was 'live and let live' ethics. The church as a reflection of society, instead of the antithesis and antidote for its ills, spawns selfishness, rather than self-sacrifice. Ah, sacrifice: certainly a related issue. Notice that the repeating catch phrase in that parable is "I said nothing" and at the end, "When they came for ME"; ultimately it's all about "ME" isn't it? Well, in this parable it is; reflective of the "ME generation who coined it, and the "ME" church which uses it in homilies. But in reality it's ultimately all about Christ. And there's the divergence between the old and the new.

No, there's no time to wait, nor am I or the men I'll be singing chant with tonight, going to wait. The time for Christian action is now, always now; masses, the re-establishment of scholas, public processions, important liturgy that demands to be taken seriously, and of course acts of charity, always acts of charity. But it is the traditional part of the church which really believes in actions both liturgical and by extension charitable, and in their supernatural imperatives, rather than believing in simply good social intentions. The cumulative results of the past forty years demonstrate that quite adequately.

Archbishop 10-K said...

The question is, can we have what the adherents of the Rite have without the Rite?

I don't know about that, Father, but isn't the 1970 Missal intended to be merely a revision of the old Roman rite?

By this, I mean that some parishes such as mine offer the Novus Ordo Mass, except in Latin, ad Orientem, with a Gregorian schola to sing the propers, liberal use of incense, Tridentine-style vestments and architecture, and so forth. Almost the entire Mass is sung like a Tridentine Missa Cantata. The congregation can sing the Gloria, Credo, Agnus Dei, and all the other responses; "Confiteor Deo..", "Suscipiat Dominus...", "Domine, non sum dignus..." and so forth; just fine. The priest intones/sings the Canon/EP I in a soft voice. Latin is mandatorily taught at the parish school starting from 5th grade.

None of those things are restricted only to the 1962 Missal. You have the ability to celebrate a very traditional Mass with the Missal you already have. Isn't that what the Council really intended? A mere revision of the Tridentine Mass with a few things added (like the extra Scriptural reading, acclamation after the consecration) and a few things removed (Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, Last Gospel)?

The changing heathen-Pottyaboutjesus said...

Dear Father,

This was an exceptional post u made. You have given me a new perspective. I myself always struggle with the "rad trads". I love jesus in the eucharist, confession and the sacraments (daily mass etc) I am 22yrs old and im often to only person under 50 at daily mass if i do meet young people who love jesus they often wear mantilla and love the trid and latin
and i get fed up of the trid's who moan about "the evil spirit of vatican 2" and only go to the trid. I find adlibbing masses intolerable and upsetting but this doesn't mean i will remove myself from my parish to avoid liturgical abuse.
I have always written off the rad trads as nutters and those who seek jesus in the ascetically pleasing trid, which somehow to them reveals more of the transcendal... I have always thought it lacks any serious substance or a "friendship with christ" which is key to growing in christ.
Your post brought me joy, because in the tridentine inclined you have seen people who are living the faith and this is wonderful for me to hear and will make me slightly less dismissive of the trad's in the future.......

Moretben said...

Archbishop 10K

Very nice. You're still left with texts in the both the Ordo and the Propers which have shifted the lex orandi.

Tricking out the Novus Ordo in a "Tridentine" body kit will not fix the stability, suspension, steering, range, efficiency, crash safety.

The traditional rite, celebrated very simply in the vernacular is infinitely to be preferred to the NO with Latin, chant and "deacon of honour".

nickbris said...

I,and no doubt many more have not got the foggiest idea what this is all about

Ann said...

i think those two sisters were
great. l wonder if there are any
more such people.

Andrew said...

You'll be interested to know that Fr. Tim Finnigan has recently reported on the turnout to protest against the SOR regulations act last night (Wed 21st March) outside pariliament.

The Catholic groups that turned out were: Latin Mass Society, Faith Movement (who on the whole are supportive of the old rite) and SPUC (which has a lot of members who attend the old rite).

Now I could go on and say, "Where were the Catholic Charismatics or Youth 2000?!!" but I won't. There are nominal and uncharitable Catholics in both spheres - traditional or modern. But for some posters to suggest that the hallmark of being uncharitable lies only with traditional Catholics is complete codswallop.