Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I have caused consternation

photograph: Friars of the Immaculate celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Lateran recently

I have caused a bit of consternation, possibly even hurt in the diocese, by inviting some of the local clergy to my Silver jubilee celebrations. After discussing it here, and worrying about it for some time, I have decided to celebrate a Solemn High Mass.

I know that some of the brethren will have read my email and decide I have finally “flipped”, by the time the news reaches people in the diocese who have never spoken to me there will be rumours of holocaust denial, suggestions of schism, rumours that I am going to join the SSPX, or worst.

The truth is I am just taking advantage of a liturgical option, one of the many the Roman Rite now gives priests. Those who criticise me most strongly will most probably be those who experiment with liturgy in a more uncontrolled way than I will ever dream of doing. One of my parishioners who objected most vehemently to an occasional ad orientem celebration revels in going off to various retreat centres where priests make up Eucharistic prayers, say Mass using leavened bread with pottery chalices on coffe tables which is not a legitimate liturgical option.
Many priests receiving my email this morning will ask why I am using the Extraordinary Form. A legitimate question considering I was ordained to celebrate the Mass of Paul VI and it has formed my spirituality, it has been my life and until recently I have never celebrated in any other way.

I have certainly no intention of imposing the Traditional Latin Mass on my parishioners but I do think they should be exposed to it.
People will ask if I am making a statement, the answer is “yes”. As Pope Benedict says “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too”. For all of my priesthood, maybe because I have always been a disciple of Joseph Ratzinger, the hermeneutic of continuity has dominated my thinking; the Church being firmly rooted and at a peace and ease with its past, I have always seen as incredibly important. As Cardinal Murphy O’Connor said in another context, “one can’t have the fruit without the root”. The Tridentine Liturgy in the context of continuity, is the root of our modern liturgy, and the Missal of Paul VI should be seen as the fruit of all that has gone before. I do not believe one can understand where we are now without understanding where we have come from. I have always deplored that unquestioning, "all was bad before 1970 and all is good afterwards", it is as ridiculous as, "all was good before 1970 and that has come since is of no value".

Since the publication of Summorum Pontificum our liturgical landscape is one of “both and” not “either or”. The theology of Joseph Ratzinger is about legitimate expressions of plurality, this is nothing new, it is, perhaps, the central theme of Vatican II.

I have left the inviting a bit late but if you are free at 7.30pm on 12th May come along, you will be very welcome, if you are a priest, or prelate come and assist in choro but let me know so we can make provision for seating.

It is the feast of the Carthusian Martyrs, has anyone got a spectacular set of red vestments I can borrow?


Anonymous said...

Oh you rebel Fr Ray!

George said...

Way to go Fr Ray!!!!!! WooooHooo!
Your Silver Jubilee - your choice!

Solemn Latin High Mass - the Mass of Ages. Awesome! What a wonderful celebration it will be. Shame about the absence of liturgical dancers, no singing of Kum bay Ya, no clericised laiety extraordinarium ministerials or such like.

This is just the sort of 'consternation', as you put it, that the Catholic Church in this Country desperately needs! We're with you all the way.

Will try to make it down to Brighton for the occassion!

PS - Can I bring my guitar, clappers, tambourines and word sheets for colours of day? No, I don't think it will go down too well either - haaahaha.....

God Bless.

Fr. Gary V. said...

Father, I'm buying a plane ticket from US to London to join you with the celebration, wait for me. ;-)

USLawStudent said...

Congrats on the decision, Father! That is great. Either Mass would be beautiful for the jubilee!

Did you ever pursue your thought about celebrating at the Charterhouse (if they would even let you in the front door)?

Sandy said...

God Bless you Fr Ray,and thank you once again for your ministry on this blog.

nickbris said...

It will be Your day Father Ray and we will all be happy to share it with you.I think it will be a very memorable occasion.

Must get a tripod and film some of it for posterity and of course brush up on the Latin that we all loved.

FrGregACCA said...

Will there be a video on YouTube?

Paul said...

"There will be rumours of holocaust denial, suggestions of schism, rumours that I am going to join the SSPX, or worst."

Father, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit & unworthy of you. Very revealing of your animos.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Paul, I am not being sarcastic, I think I am being realistic. There is a great deal of suspicion about the TLM, and misunderstanding too, not helped by Bishop Williamson.
I am not sure a close study of SP has figured large in the lives of most busy parish priests, who have no contact with or interest in the TLM.

gemoftheocean said...

I echo father: Do make sure some one takes some video which can be posted to YouTube so all of your far flung readership can get a chance to celebrate a little more with you!

Don't worry about offending anyone. People should know there is more than one way to skin a cat - and frankly, depending on one's mood, sometimes one way is more appealing than another. It's all good in the 'hood.

but Jackie's right. I bet you buckle your knickerbockers BELOW the knee too! Certain words will be creeping in to your vocabulary. Words like "Swell" and "so's your old man!"

George said...

Paul - with charity foremost in mind, just a few words to say to you:

"Lighten up Pal and get a LIFE"!!!!!!

Unknown said...

At least three Anglican Churches in Brighton have very spectacular sets of red High Mass vestments. I am sure one of them would be happy to let you borrow theirs if your were happy to do so. How is your niece, by the way?

Paul said...

Father Blake,

I would like to invite you to listen to Mr. John Salza
a young American Catholic apologist and author, speaking on the misconceptions regarding the Society of St Pius X.

Perhaps this radio interview can alleviate a great deal of suspicion.


ffn said...

Way to go Fr!sorry I won't be there.

Anagnostis said...

I'll be there, I hope.

Xronia Poli, Pater.

berenike said...

People are paranoid about the old rite. I have jsut come back from tea with the Salesian sister who is sacristan in my (Warsaw) parish - I was describing this chap I know who was into the old rite (and also into the whole tweed-obscure French royalty-rah thing), and the good sister said "Perhaps he was part of that church of the Lefebvrists", in tones of concern and understanding.

Dilly said...

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

And that goes for your priestly guests - it is good for them to be out of their comfort zone occasionally. That's how we grow.

Anyone who thinks you are right wing doesn't get out much.

I am sure it will go well and be long remembered.

Anonymous said...

Would love to be there Father. Who knows?

Dominic said...

I don't see why you are so worried Fr. After all the Pope has let it be known that the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Mass should be celebrated in all parishes eventually.

This is true! I read it in the papers in June 08! In the Catholic Times and, wait for it, The Tablet!

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬) said...

Fr. Z is on your side, Fr. Blake.

FatherTF said...

Fr Ray, you mad and loony trad! What can you be thinking? Doesn't Vatican II mean anything to you at all?

(BTW Do you want me to be deacon or subdeacon?)

Adulio said...

The Tridentine Liturgy in the context of continuity, is the root of our modern liturgy, and the Missal of Paul VI should be seen as the fruit of all that has gone before.In all sincerity, do you believe this?

Peter Simpson said...

It seemed obvious to me that this is what you were going to do when you raised the question of which rite to use a month or so ago! I wish you had simply stated then that you had decided to celebrate your Silver Jubilee with an Old Rite Mass. It is your Silver Jubilee, and you have every right to celebrate in the Old Rite. Whilst I prefer the New Rite in English, I find the debate that you raise rather divisive. If I lived closer, I would have been more than happy to attend your Silver Jubilee. I shall remember your priestly ministry with thanks (at Mass in Inverness) on your special day.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I hadn't decided.
Fr Tim,
Could you be sub-deacon
It should be seen as that, though that is not how Joseph Ratzinger understood, but I stand with Pope Benedict on this.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I very much appreciate the Great Zeee being on my side.

georgem said...

Heavens above, Father. Next thing we know The Tablet will be running a sob story. Infamy, infamy etc.
Congrats on attaining your Silver Jubilee - you can flip whichever way you want.
Hope to make it on the day to give thanks for your unstinting service to God and to His flock.

The Bones said...


I'll bring my drummer, my guitarist, my bassist and my...oh hang on, it's TLM! I don't need to! We can all just give thanks and give due reverence to God for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and for your ministry!


Delia said...

Well done, Father! It was quite clear what you really wanted and I'm glad you've gone for that. You'll never regret it.

Volpius Leonius said...

Congratulations on your Silver jubilee Father. You still have some catching up to do before you get into the same consternation causing league as Christ or St. Paul but you are doing very well!

I will be there in spirit, God bless you.

Sharon said...

Can't make it from Australia but will remember you in my prayers on the day.

I bet you buckle your knickerbockers BELOW the knee too! Certain words will be creeping in to your vocabulary. Words like "Swell" and "so's your old man!"Love The Music Man! lol

gemoftheocean said...

BTW, it occurs to me if you tick off the Tablet in a spectacular way, you might end up with a set of red traddy style vestments for your very own. :-D

nd1282 said...

Longtime reader, first time poster.

Congratulations on your Silver Jubilee. Thank you for having the courage (considering the war- and I don't think that's too strong a word- within the church between the elements who want to forget the Pre-Vatican II church, and those who wish to repudiate Vatican II altogether) and dedication to all forms of the Mass, old and new.

As a 20ish Cradle Catholic, I wish that the Latin Mass was said more often. It is available at only two parishes in my diocese, both of which are a 30 minute drive from my house.

I go when I can. The sense of the sacred, of holiness and quiet devotion, is completely missing from the regular church that I go to. I seek to worship, not to be entertained by the various singers and musicians during mass, or be distracted by people gossiping before, during, and after mass.

I apologize for the litany of complaints. I daresay I sound quite bitter. Well, I am. I feel that my generation is being sold down the river by the incomplete implementation (and outright ignoring or obfuscation) of Summorum Pontificum by certain members of the clergy. They think that they know what's best for us. Why won't they let us decide for ourselves by offering the Latin Mass more widely? What exactly are they afraid of?

Like George M, I think the Tablet hit squad might make an appearance at the Latin Mass for another one of their hatchet job articles. Oh well, nothing like discrediting that most bitter of pills even more in the eyes of the average Catholic.

In times like this I always think of Voltaire:

'I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.'

Let the Tablet try their best. They are the fading voice of an dying generation. The torch has passed, and they know it. At this point, all they are doing is raging against the light.

the owl of the remove said...

Hurrah and huzzah, Father! I am sorry I cannot be with you in Choir - not home until July - perhaps we can have another fine meal in honour of your anniversary?

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬) said...

Fr. Blake, you can call me "Zed" if that is easier for a man of your... ? .... Which jubilee was this to be again?

Anonymous said...

Anyway Andrew & I celebrate 25 years of marriage on 28th May. Who got the best deal?

Paul, South Midlands said...

Hi Father

Congratulations on doing something that is still quite brave. There appear to be many who are quite happy to see the old rite in a ghetto. Sadly these seem to include a minority of those who attend it exclusively, who seem to me to want to live like an 1890s sect, living very strict lives, cutting themselves off from the modern world, and looking down on anyone who attends the OF. Sadly, this can turn "ordinary" parishoners against the EF very rapidly. Lack of charity in all its forms can be very damaging. Even if nothing is said, the body language can be enough to do the damage.

It is vital that the EF becomes "just" another part of normal Catholic life and "just" another part of the rich tapestry of Catholic liturgy and devotions.

To my mind Summorum Pontificum will only have truly succeeded when the majority of those attending the EF comprise "ordinary" parishoners who regularly attend the NO Masses in their parish.

Hence what you (& Father Tim) are doing in integrating the EF to the heart of the parish is cutting edge and brave. Congratulations on your jubilee.

Crux Fidelis said...

A question, Father. You say you were ordained to celebrate the Mass of Paul VI yet you have only reached your twenty fifth anniversary of priesthood. How so?

Congratulations, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and thanks for the gift of your priesthood. Ad multos annos!


Anja said...

Good for you Father! Congratulations on your Jubilee! I will light a candle for you near Our Lady in Lourdes on that day :)

gemoftheocean said...

Crux, I think Fr. Blake was ordained to say it any way the Roman Rite approves of him saying it. :-D Fr. Blake was more of a summer chicken than a spring chicken when he was ordained.

Anonymous said...

Farther, congratulations on your jubilee! Solemn High Mass here in Brighton is the greatest thing! We (our family) are completely on your side and remember you in our prayers. I do not think "consternation" is always a bad thing, let the abusers be scared. Leavened bread and other... Are you joking? Where could someone report such liturgical crimes? On a more local nature: farther, if you decide to film the Mass, I would be most happy to help, I can bring two camcorders and tripod and a sound recorder.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Lizard contact me,

Thank you everyone for your prayers and good wishes.

Paulinus said...

Congratulations, Father. I'm sure it will be a wonderful day. I'm sorry I can't come. Please remember me at the altar as I will be under the knife of one of my colleages that day (elective, orthopaedic, non-serious).

Surely all the People of God welcome your celebration of Solemn High Mass in the EF as an expression of diversity within the family of the Church, no?

Red Maria said...

Father Ray, congratulations on your Silver Jubilee.

Solemn High Mass, you say? Corrr! You certainly know how to celebrate in style.

Most unlikely that I'll be able to make it but if possible, can you post a video of it on your blog?

Incense, Latin and all the works please, the more the better.

Fr Jerome OSJV said...

Fr Ray

St Bartholomew's, Anne St, Brighton has an absolutely stunning red High Mass set which they have loaned to various clergy for Anniversaries etc, I am sure you would receive a favourable response if you were to contact Fr Vickery House, the Vicar?

Picture of said Mass set here: http://www.stbartholomewsbrighton.org.uk/churchvestments.htm

Contact details on the above website.

Are ecumenical colleagues welcome to witness the great occasion?

Joseph said...

Father, if you borrowed vestments from a non-Catholic Church, once they had been used for the liturgy would you be able to return them?

I mean considering they had been used for worship, presumably they would have to be blessed first.

TheSeeker said...

Fear not, Father. People will always speak ill of those who do right. Jesus knows what is in your heart.

Et Expecto said...

It might be worth asking Richard Luzar if you can borrow the set of red vestments used at the Priests' Training Conference at Ushaw.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...