Friday, March 18, 2016

Are Englishmen Wimps?


For those of you with a smattering of Polish, this is a little video of the Polish Men;s Group along the coast from us in Eastboune doing the Stations of the Cross. We have hosted the Polish Community in Brighton for thhe last 70 years and Eastbourne is part of the Brighton Polish parish. The priest giving Benediction is the excellent and hard working Oratorian Fr Tadeusz Bialas. Last year he was in Church hearing Confession until 2 in the morning having started at 9pm.
These men, 150 of them, did this Stations on 25 kilometer night walk in honour of Lord' Passion, over the Eastbourne cliffs - scary! I am impresseed, I want them to do the same in Brighton.
What is interesting is the local clergy invited English men to join them, there were no -or few- takers. Are Englishmen wimps?
The video above is from last year the one below this year's, the celebrant is Fr Neil Chatfield of the Ordinariate, who I think is not a Polish speaker.

15 comments:

John Fisher said...

Yes... one fruit of the UK Crown and government's persecution and domestication of Christianity in the UK is religion is private and incipit because of fear of the repercussions socially, economically and politically. Quakerism is a very English forgery. Catholicism does not challenge and oppose come dungeon,fire and sword of its enemies. It's the gospel of politeness. Appeasement of modern ideology just as the UK appeased fascism. God bless the Poles because as a nation they would not exist without the tenacity of the Faith.

Liam Ronan said...

Dear Father,

You ask "Are Englishmen wimps?". Is the Pope Catholic?

Simple Simon said...

Last year on a pilgrimage to the Divine Mercy shrine in Krakow during Lent we spent a lunch time visiting the splendid city centre churches. In each church there were long queues for confession (on a Wednesday!). And I suspect not many of the penitents required to read Dives in Misericordia as an aid to examining their conscience. Very uplifting.

vetusta ecclesia said...

One of the many ghastly consequences of the de-Latinisation of the Latin church is the proliferation in the diaspora of national/linguistic groups. The Polish seem self-sufficient verging on exclusive. Their home clergy distrust and calumniate the English RC Church as irredeemably modernist (perhaps with some justification). So it is good to see them opening up their event and sad that it elicited so little response.

Just another mad Catholic said...

English Catholic laymen are not wimps, its just that they are unfortunate in the officers assigned to lead them, about 90% are wimps whose don't know the meaning of backbone, and of the rest about 8% are sadistic martinets who seem to have had their humanity surgically removed before they were ordained. Which leaves maybe 2% who are Orthodox but have some humanity left in them (I include you in this Father).

Francis said...

This says a lot about the splintering of Catholics into national groups and I have sympathy with the comment about de-Latinisation. I live in a market town that has recently attracted about 2,000 Poles. They have their own Mass and cultural gatherings in the church hall on Sunday evenings and are virtually absent from the life of the parish. We have an excellent priest and super liturgy (Latin propers etc.) so you can't say the Poles were put off by drum-beat folk Masses and modernism. It's such a shame that they make virtually no contribution to the life and mission of the church where I live. Why the ghetto? The Poles who live in the UK and take their faith seriously must realise that being here isn't just about making a fast buck. God has given them five talents and they must not bury them. It's not so much that English Catholics are wimps -- we are having to practise our faith in a climate of intense secularism and we need help and active reinforcements!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Francis, in part you are right but the other side of the coin is the lack of welcome so many immigrants feel from congregations. Apart from the language problem, there is often no sense of 'going out' or mission, it is not part of our agenda, instead it is more an attitude of 'we are a closed shop' or 'do not disturb'.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

During the summer of 1966 when I was a newly-ordained subdeacon - remember those? - I attended a Young Christian Workers' gathering in Ampleforth Abbey with two classmates. While we were there it happened that there was some kind of Polish pilgrimage at the weekend. When I heard the pilgrims singing with such fervour in the large chapel the hair stood up on the back of my neck. It was my first experience of Polish Catholicism.

Vetusta ecclesia, long before Vatican II national parishes were, and maybe still are, very common in North America. I remember reading about a predominantly Irish parish in Canada in the 1800s where some of the parishioners took the French-speaking priest and held him over the river at a bridge threatening to drop him if he didn't resign. The parishioners got their way.

I do know that weekly Sunday Masses in Polish are common in both the USA and Canada, as are Masses in other languages. Yes, there is the danger of such a group cutting itself off from the wider parish. There are also Polish chaplains to the large Polish community in Ireland.

However, I wouldn't conclude from the Eastbourne pilgrimage that Englishmen are wimps. Many of us would hesitate to join a group using a language that we have no familiarity with whatever. It doesn't mean we're rejecting that group.

During a two-year stint in Britain from 2000 to 2002 I celebrated Mass from time to time with Filipinos - I have been in the Philippines most of the time since 1971 - in such places as Bradford and Halifax, and also in the Isle of Man. The congregation was never exclusively Filipino and they preferred to have the Mass in English rather than in Tagalog, even though that was the language most of them chatted in over coffee afterwards. The Bradford and Halifax Masses were celebrated on Friday evenings.

In Dublin there is a Sunday Mass for Filipinos once a month in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in the city centre. But Filipinos are active in the parishes where they live and have formed choirs in some of them. In my own parish in Dublin, Blanchardstown, there is a Mass once a month for Syro-Malabar Catholics from India but there are parishioners from India at the regular Sunday Masses and usually at the weekday Masses. Some are doctors and nurses in the nearby James Connolly Memorial Hospital.

But God bless the Polish men for their good example of a manly faith. We certainly need more of that.

Verity Szukam said...

It's good to see men of all ages in a public demonstration of faith. It seems to me that foreign language groups will tend to go to an ordinary form Mass in their own language if they don't speak the local language very well. That is the whole point of Mass in the vernacular. In a nearby parish, there are four poorly attended (half full at best) Sunday Masses in English with a mainly female mixed African and Irish congregation. There is one Polish Mass on the Sunday which is always standing room only with people spilling outside, and a good balance of men and women. The Polish priests are independent of the parish, but the Parish Priest allows them to celebrate one Mass on a Sunday. So technically it is not their parish. Whilst it would be nice for some integration and collaboration, if the present arrangement helps them keep the faith, then I would certainly not want to change that.

Gillineau said...

No, I'm not a wimp. But I also have a family, and taking a night out for a walk would necessitate me sleeping through a day, which I can't afford to do if I'm to be a good parent. I also have a job which requires me to be focused and active, precluding my participation in Epic Catholicism TM.

Also, I'm unsure as to why walking a long way at night would be pleasing to Mary or God.

There's an issue of culture too - different nations focus on different aspects of the Faith - some seem to enjoy blood and guts (dropping donkeys off churches, gruesome Crucifixes, etc), others like the Hidden Life of Jesus stuff, others the sentimental side, some the corporate aspects, some love a good seer, others depend on apparitions. I personally like a jolly good pilgrimage and similar corporate events, with a picnic and some tea and/ or beer. I don't know that this is worse..?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gillineau,
I think you have summed up the difference in mindset between a working Polish father, who understands the importance of doing something to support other men of faith and how we English think.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...No, I'm not a wimp. But I also have a family, and taking a night out for a walk would necessitate me sleeping through a day, which I can't afford to do if I'm to be a good parent. I also have a job which requires me to be focused and active, precluding my participation in Epic Catholicism TM....

Yep.

First class wimp.

551 km or 342 miles

the distance from Guadalajara to Mexico City.

Widows, Orphans, women,and little children walk the mountainous terrain every year in the freezing cold to celebrate the feast of Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de Guadalupe.

Yep.

First class wimp.

*

Gillineau said...

They've been doing the 44km all night rosary here in Scotland this lent - again, almost all Polish men (one wasn't, I think), and lots of women too (not Polish, many of them). I was invited too, but I genuinely don't know to what it pertains. No one has ever explained to me why self-flagellation is good, or Christian. And does God like un-wimpiness, as embodied in walking a long way in the dark? And why? It'd seem a bit weird of God. Does God prefer His men manly, if 'manly' means walking a long way in the etc. etc.?

I'm quite manly in other ways: I tell a good story, smoke a lovely pipe, carve red meat, can hot shoe shuffle; I sweat when I saw wood, sing hymns at great volume in a rich tenor. I also like to help my wife tend to, and educate my five young children. All of it for Jesus, too.

A wimp, maybe. But a busy one.

Just another mad Catholic said...

I think Pablo that you should refrain from unjust judgement.

A friend of mine walked the Camino de Compestella in six weeks, she is a single teacher and therefore had the time during the school holidays to do so. A man with young children would better profit the world by spending time with his family rather than gallivanting off (assuming he could get the time off work) for the six weeks it would take, leaving his wife with the children for all that time.

Walsingham or Chartres on the other hand is different, three days (ok 5 if you count getting to the starting point and a day spent travelling back) and is quite doable for people with families(I've seen 8 year old boys solider on with their fathers and not quitting at Chartres).

I have walked both and will this year go back to Walsingham for the fourth time, last year I walked with the English chapter to Chartres and will do so again next year. Neither Pilgrimage is easy, the path to Chartres is littered with sprained ankles and people who didnt' realise that they'd essentially signed up to a forced march, are they wimps ? NO!

Catechist Kev said...

Surely Englishman (and Catholic) Wayne Rooney is no wimp!

Um... please.

Go MU!

Catechist Kev