Thursday, September 26, 2013

The London Oratory: An Infestation of Fleas

Fr Wilfrid Faber once said: ‘I walk down the street in my habit and I feel I dispel invincible ignorance wherever I go'
I was very touched by the plight of a homeless lady from London who thought she would be on the streets until she was given help by one of the Father's of the Oratory.
Even so, according to their Provost, Fr Julian Large, fleas and stench are not unknown to the Fathers.

6 comments:

viterbo said...

God bless the Oratory Fathers with their zeal for the House of God. 'Who is left among you that saw this Temple in its former glory?...it is the Lord who speaks. To Work!...I will fill this Temple with glory...this Temple is going to surpass the old.' -Haggai 1. There need not be a battle between giving great glory to God, which is our first obligation, and loving our neighbour; 'both, not either or'.

A couple of decades ago I was visiting Okinawa for a wedding. I was staying on an American military base - these bases take up acre after acre of the small island, with golf courses included. Walking down a street I saw what looked like a workman's hole in the ground. It was explained to me that a Japanese Veteran of WII had lived in the hole for years along side the fence separating the street from a USBase golf course as a protest against American 'occupation'. He was a sort of a troglodyte - a dwelling underground street person. One day I saw him pop out, a small octagenerian with a youthful determination in the eyes. Here was complete material poverty, but not a hint of the humility we imagine accompanies poverty, for this old man evinced no need. Need, the acknowledgement of incompleteness is, at least the beginning of humility, and ultimately that need should be understood not in temporal terms, but in light of the eternal. The generation before me were raised in a parochial school - they were very poor, but got a top notch Dominican education, free milk, and even an offer of a free university education for one of the siblings who made dux - but with the condition of becoming a religious. All this for one of the poorest families in town. The nuns treated all students with equal care and according to their abilities. One non-starter academically was finally set to keeping the convent gardens and went on to become a well-to-do market gardener. True charity lifts up, out of the 'dunghill', and always speaks the Truth, it does not delight in the dunghill as some sort of existential virtue. Leave that to the dung beetles, but we are made in the image of God

Supertradmum said...

I love the passage in Scripture where Christ says to the followers of John the Baptist that one of the signs that Christ is the Messiah is that the Gospel is being preached to the poor-that is a miracle; if every Catholic family adopted one poor or homeless person in England and in the States, we would not have this problem. But, the middle class is so judgmental and Calvinist in the approach to poverty and penury. And, even if it is the poor person's fault that they are poor, we can still help them. I sin daily.

George said...

Supertradmum, you are correct.

One point however - it's *always* the poor person's fault. This is what the Whig Catholics don't understand. There never were deserving poor. There never were faultess poor.

You can read in every age commentary talking about the undeserving poor. The Great Depression of the 1930s, the Irish Potato Famine, pick any time or age of misery and you'll find people who found lots of fault with the poor.

It's a major stumbling block to Christian Charity if we cannot, within our own minds, see the poor, within any place or time, as deserving, for Christ's sake alone.

It's a vice which from time to time affects us all. Because there's also a flip-side to this Whig Catholic mindset. The flip-side to "judging" the poor is putting ourselves on a pedestal and filling with pride. If the poor are at fault for their miserable condition, then it only makes sense that we are also at fault for whatever success we have in our lives. We become blinded to the myriad of ways that God has daily shielded us from harm, advanced us in our careers, protected us from the unscrupulous, developed our talents, and done so many things which built the success we may enjoy.

Nope. Those who sit in judgment of the poor, also give little credit to God for their own successes and material security. "I did it. The poor should be able to do it too."

A very holy priest once said in a sermon that our attitudes toward the materially or spiritually poor should be "if God had given me the same graces as that poor man, I'd be worse a man than he. If God had given that man the amount of graces He has given to me, that man would have made so much better use of them than I have."

viterbo said...

We all breathe sin in a fallen world. In the words of St Alphonsus, 'I am smoke, filth, vanity and wretchdness'; yet God condescended out of ineffable love to take on our original sin and our continual 'mea culpa' condition that we might be raised up with Him out of it to eternity. We have no inherent virtues to present to the Lord, no matter our 'condition'. We have mercy while we live, and justice beyond our last breath. But what riches for those of us who have been called to the Supper of Our Lord while we live.

nickbris said...

The best way to control the stench is to have a
"Botafumeiro" as at Santiago di Compostela

Mike Hurcum said...

It would do you all well to read the Book, "Faber works life and letters". The Story of Frederick William Faber. To understand the scope of this manly priests 'depth of spirituality'. It is written by a priest who knew both Faber and Newman. There are some other interesting letters from those who knew them both.