Monday, August 17, 2009

Stripping the Church






Today we cleared the floor of the nave of Church for sanding and varnishing. Today Peter and Radic are on their hands a knees, hammering down nails, tomorrow they replace floorboards, some are very worn by the main entrance, others are a bitten rotten where we had leaking radiator for years.
It felt a little strange despoiling the Church, piling the benches into the sanctuary, removing statues and anything else that was moveable.
I am feeling almost inclined to follow the ancient practice of simply having pews only around the sides, having men in one aisle and women in the other, leaving the centre for the liturgical action. People could bring their own kneelers if they needed them. How much it would change the style of the liturgy.
Fr Richard Biggerstaff of Lewes came over with Fr Jonathan Martin (en clergyman) and Gerard Hatton, one of our seminarians, to check out what was happening. Tomorrow we have Mass on a makeshift altar in our Parish Centre. It is going to be so tight if our normal numbers turn up, I'll have to celebrate ad apsidum.
Interestingly, the floor undulates where for the last 150 years people have stood between the benches.
Thank you to those of you have donated through the Paypal button, your contributions are a real help. I shall Mass for your intentions next week.

8 comments:

old believer said...

Fr. Ray,

Do please try, even on a short-term experimental basis, removing pews from the body of the nave.

One suspects the introduction of pews did more to change how people participated and interacted with the Liturgy than any change of language or rite.

Of course there was always seating for those who needed it around the periphery of the nave - hence the expressiong 'Going to the wall.'

gemoftheocean said...

"I am feeling almost inclined to follow the ancient practice of simply having pews only around the sides, having men in one aisle and women in the other, leaving the centre for the liturgical action. People could bring their own kneelers if they needed them. How much it would change the style of the liturgy. "

Geez, Fr. What got into your Wheaties this morning? There's a reason "They" stopped doing this. "Go ahead. Make my day." You and what army? You really want to have kneelers that can be picked up and thrown?

Jack.H said...

Gee Father, we never knew you were such a radical:), carry on like this and you'll have the bittr pill screaming at you for being a divisive SSPX plant :), not that we in the SSPX would mind a wonderful Padre such as yourself joining our ranks.

Dominius Vobiscum

J.H

Moretben said...

Jack - would that the SSPX were 'radical'! They're nothing of the kind.

Go for it Father! Introduce a Great Entrance at the Offertory, going right around the Church; sing the 'bidding prayers' ad aspidem from the centre of the nave!

Laurence England said...

Start up a 'Lose the Pews' Campaign!

old believer said...

I would certainly endorse Moretben's suggestions.

What could be done is for the reading to be done from the centre of the nave, having them 'proclaimed' (to use a buzz term) in the midst of the people - but facing East of course.

Many years ago when I used to attend Mgr. Gilbey's weekday Mass I remember one Christmas, when the crib was set up in front of the altar where he usually celebrated at the Oratory, he was moved to a side altar in St. Wilfrid's chapel which did not have any pews near it.

It really was an enlightening experience to stand just a few feet from the altar. There really was a sense of participation - to use another buzz word - that was deeply rewarding.

Terry said...

I have only one thing to say, Fr.
You have a beautiful church!
Good luck with your restoration.

Jack.H said...

Morebeth

Perhaps the term Dinosaur would have been more appropriate. Being an SSPX'er I know that our priests would rather eat cyanide than swallow Ma pepinster's rag