Tuesday, January 12, 2016
"Are you dead, Pater?" No, I just allowed myself to absord and be absorbed by the Christmas Mysteries, so a belated and Happy Christmas and blessed New Year to you all.
We are keeping our crib up until the Purification.
Reflecting on the images of hovering priests and twirling priests that my 'friends' have posting on social media over the holidays, and my own misanthropy of throwing a Christmas present of a CD of a group of Irish singing priests into the rubbish bin. I have been thinking lately of the terrible burden some priests have of thinking they have to perform or entertain, that unless they are amusing, witty, brilliant, wise, clever ....the world is lost. The performing priest is something new, unknown to Tradition, I like Waugh's analogy of the workman priest going up to the altar to mutter the Mass. Celebrating Mass as if it were a performance, or as if it, any of it depended on the priest is a terrible burden, and I suspect is deleterious to a priests spiritual life. If he performs at Mass what about the rest of his life? Christian is the work of the tradesman, on a par with carpentry or fisherman, not the work of actor or impresario.
After thirty years of priesthood, I wonder whether I should have been ordained, that I have been given this extraordinary gift leaves me rapt with wonder. I know that if God had not given me this grace I would probably be lost. I am in many ways a bit rubbish at being a priest. people have expectations of me and I continually fail to meet them. God has expectations of me and I fail to meet them. There were Christmas cards that thanked me for my preaching and teaching, for my pastoral care, for my offering Mass in a particular way, even for this blog. What I am convinced of is that whatever good I might do is not my doing, it is His.
All the Masses we offer here are offered ad orientem, I can't help performing a little (rhetorically I mean) when I preach but the celebration of Mass is consciously not 'performed' just done according to the rubrics, I have a fear that my personality is more likely to repel than attract. I here stories from other parishes and think if I was a laymen I would run screaming from the Church. Presenting people with the Mass is salvific, God works through the liturgy. There is something liberating in the knowledge that 'Jesus is the Saviour' and I am not. This is really the message of Christmas, we live in Grace, amidst starlight and angels, all that is required of us is fidelity, an attempt to be charitable and the hope that Christ will take care of things.
The Incarnation brings about a renewed reality, it is not what we do but it is what he does that matters now. The God who empties himself of his divinity and pours out his Spirit on humanity has poured himself into the world through his Church, and we, especially we priests, are witnesses to this mysterious new reality.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake