Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why is it that those who love the liturgy don't have fleas anymore?

I used to admire those old fashion Anglo-Catholics who were strictly orthodox in their theology of the Trinity and Incarnation and were as comfortable sipping a cinzano with the Queen Mother in St James’, ancient port in an Oxford College and tea from a chipped cup in a flea infested in slum in Deptford. They had more than a mild interest in Brussels’ lace and cut Venetian velvet and might have been able to turn their own hand to some obscure form of tapestry or embroidery. They could equally well have spent part of the winter in Niece or a South African township.

However they invariably chose the poorest parishes for their apostolate, filled the churches with as much beauty as the could and drew in the poor, the broken, the needy, not just for the sake of some religious spectacle but because these clergy were able to communicate the love of God. When they died the poor turned out to throng the streets to see their passing, these same streets would often be named in their honour.

When not at prayer or visiting their parishioners, they would normally be found, if not in a soup kitchen, then shocking their more wealthy followers, by radical politics. Many of these men ended up following Newman and Manning into the Catholic Church.

Today radical orthodoxy, a deep love of the liturgy and the things appertaining to it and a profound love of the poor and radical politics have become seperated.

It is all about the Incarnation, I know, but the question remains: Why is it that those who love the liturgy don't have fleas anymore? Why aren't the new religious congregations who are founded purely for the liturgy not running soup kitchens as well?


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I think from the Liturgy all else is supposed to flow. Being a good priest will lead to these things happening. I know a traditional group of priests that do help at soup kitchens as well as have wonderful liturgies :)

gemoftheocean said...

"Why aren't the new religious congregations who are founded purely for the liturgy not running soup kitchens as well? "

Because YOU do such a good job of it, Father! :-D

Seriously Some of the "soup kitchens" are seen by many as a "government's job" i.e. welfare, food stamps,e tc. they don't look out for the people who for one reason fall through the cracks. "welfare" without true Christian charity, is cold.

As to the "newer orders" - Actually, I think they do a lot that's unseen in personal one-on-one ways. I don't think it's the purview of any particular group to do any one thing. The physical needs are important, but a well fed body without spiritual food is also dead. I don't think they are mutually exclusive.

As to "Radical politics" - THEN "radical" was "how about not letting 10 year olds work in coal mines" Now it's "let's let any dope from Mobasa with Chains make everyone a ward of the state" in which case they can stick that sideways. Marxism is a failure EVERY time it's tried. and I think your "nulabor" over there is in the same boat with that philosophy.

How about getting out of the way of entrepreneurs who CREATE real jobs so people can have their own dignity for earning what they get instead of being treated like an incompetent boob by the state?

Unknown said...

I agree with what you say here, Father. Some of the greatest Anglo-Catholic priests did - and in a few cases still do - marvellous work in "difficult" parishes. We have privately mentioned Fr Ronald Bullivant who spent several decades at a Brighton church and he was a perfect example of what you are saying. They tended to be celibate men because nobody would have considered subjecting a wife to such appalling conditions.

I was greatly taken a couple of months ago by a letter in the (Anglican) Church Times from the present Administrator of the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham where he talked about people "colliding with the truth of the Incarnation" in the Holy House. I knew exactly what he meant and he hit the nail squarely on the head.

Bryan said...

They need to be given parishes before they can visit parishioners.

Antonio said...

It is always the trendies that have the least concern for the poor and destitute, while the orthodox have traditionally always took them under their wings.

Take the examples of Cardinal Ottaviani and Siri. Both hated by the progressives at the second Vatican council and both very much lovers of the old liturgy and all things traditional. Yet behind all the splendors and respect, that came with a being a prince of the church, both of them had various orphanages that they would look after. Cardinal Siri once selling some various ecclesiastical items to help pay for the up-keep and provide more necessities for the children.

Both too could be seen in the streets visiting the poor and disenfranchised and exhorting them not to join the Communist party and risk their souls. When both these cardinals died, they too have throngs of people paying their last respects to these giants of orthodoxy.

Somehow I don't think the likes of Congar, Rahner or Kung were ever this zealous for their lesser bretheren

Peter said...

Valid point Father.
Part of the answer might be that conforming to modern civil law means compromising on Church teaching as the adoption agencies found.
Another part may be the fear of treading on the toes of well established Catholic agencies.
A third might be to consider that most poverty is spiritual rather than material.
I am not convinced that this is a full explanation.

Edward P. Walton said...

Are you referring to Anglican or Catholic new congregations?

Norah said...

Perfect charity is love of neighbour for love of God. It is those who don't like the hierarchy and don't like the teachings of the magisterium who contend that it is either or - Liturgy or love for the poor when the orthodox have known all along that it is both and - love for the Liturgy and love for the poor.

You are an example of this father.

Just because charitable doings are not done under the glare of the media doesn't mean that they aren't done. We had an assistant priest - convert from Anglicanism - a Catholic for 5 minutes - who castigated from the pulpit people who attended Adoration citing them as thinking of themselves as "spiritual eletists" Most of those attending Adoration took food to the homeless at night or were members of St Vincent de Paul Society. I found this out when they had to re arrange their times for Adoration because of their charitable duties.

jack said...

I second Peter, I can imagine Cathod and the SVP kicking up a huge fuss if parishes did more than a coffee morning every other week. Also why not leave such work in the hands of the professionals?

Fr Ray Blake said...


alban said...

Father, It is a most interesting and challenging observation that you make. As Christ Himself shows, prayer inevitably manifests itself in an active concern for those who are the rejected in society. As the Lord says, "...whatsoever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters you did to me." (Matthew 25:42) The word "least" is crucial, is it not?

As some newly established congregations have shown, there is no need formal parochial responsibility in order to be with the poor, the needy or oppressed; their work is stellar and is in the great tradition of the Church. Sadly, other new congregations do not seem to regard this as important; for this latter group, unless they move away from insularity and mere maintenance, I fear that their prayer and ritual risk becoming hollow words and empty gestures.

Every order, congregration, religious institute and parish of the Church must not only maintain the timeless beauty of what we have received but also be faithful to the missionary call given by the Master. Maintenance is not enough, as you yourself have so rightly mentioned in previous posts; this is, no doubt, one of the reasons your parish runs a soup kitchen.

May our gracious God abundantly bless you and your people in the year ahead.

Crux Fidelis said...

Felix sit annus novus!

Thomas Windsor said...

The separation of Church and (Welfare) State, can be a problem. We know it is and has always been the job of the Church to provide, Schools, Hospitals, orphanages, and to help the poor with accommodation, food and clothing.

But how does this fit in with our modern socialist welfare states; where does the Church's role end and the State's begin?

Is it the job of the Church to provide to those whom the state has failed, and how does this fit in with the modern discriminatory laws, that assume the State does not fail, and enforce a false idea of equality?

Can the Church really set up Traditional schools, hospitals, orphanages and help for the poor in an organized way without the State's permission or control? Could we really run a truly Christian parallel to our Welfare state?

While Parishes can help the poor with food and clothing, could they also provide hostels? What would the bishop think?

The Traditional orders do have a problem with helping the poor, if they are traditional communities such as the Dominicans, Benedictines etc. Being centred in ecclesiastical buildings that may be many miles from the inner cities it can be difficult, although Riamount in France, gives an excellent example of what can be done and is done by a large number of communities.

The modern Traditional orders such as the FSSP, have other problems to helping the poor. Being set up around the preservation and restoration of the liturgy, they have enough problems funding their needs for accommodation, food, and travel and tim,e although as they gain parishes and so access to more funds they too can provide greater amounts of help.

In any case as Catholics we don't really want or need to advertise our charity to our fellow man too widely...

Hippolytus said...

Franciscans of the Immaculate - absolute poverty and predilection for the Extraordinary Form - I think I saw a video of them serving in a very poor mission abroad.
Franciscans of The Renewal - may not be known for above predilection but I have seen Fr Benedict Groeschel speak on EWTN of the 'collapse of the liturgy' and other such comments which suggest being more in tune with your 'love the liturgy' than liturgical 'free for all'. Their apostolate is exclusively to the poor. Likewise SOLT serves in many VERY poor areas worldwide and as with the Franciscans of the Renewal show signs of your 'Love the liturgy'.

Although SOLT does not have as strong a predilection towards the EF as Franciscans of the Immaculate, SOLT has regular EF Masses at their Higher Education College in Corpus Christi Diocese America.
I understand none of the above were founded in reaction specifically to liturgical issues or have a specific approach to the liturgy as a primary charism. What they do have is fidelity to the Magisterium and a strong Marian devotion. I heard Fr Corapi SOLT use a wonderful phrase saying that as Catholics we must have, preach and apply not just the 'FULLNESS of TRUTH' but also the 'FULNESS OF CHARITY'.........personally I find this a very useful phrase to guard against a so-called 'traditionalism' that is circumscribed and confined by adherence to 'sound' thought and 'sound' liturgy as an end in itself without the out flowing of charity that should be inseparable from it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

I love your blog. I know one priest who loves the liturgy (TLM) and loves the "fleas" as well.....and is just as you described....This is the first time I write on your blog because I actually had something to contribute. I've passed on a number of your posts to friends,I hope you don't mind. Thank you so much for ALL that you do and Happy New Year to you and your very fortunate parishioners! Barbara, Italy

Anonymous said...

May I direct you to a wonderful priest,Father Lutz, who is pastor of Holy family Parish in Columbus, Ohio. Not only does he run a soup kitchen, but operates a religious museum that is out of this world. In addition, Father Lutz says the Extraordinary Mass 3 times a week. There is a section where you can view items in the museum.
Andrea Brown
Anaheim, CA

Fr Peter said...

The Anglican ritualist slum priests like Fr Lowder, Fr Mackonochie, Fr Stanton and Fr Dolling were a great source of inspiration to me when I was an Anglican; and the tradition that you described, Father, did much to prepare me for my current work as a Catholic priest caring for "disposable" street-children in South America.

Heresy is often a matter of "either/or", whereas Catholicism is one of "both/and". God is both One and Three; and Our Lord is both God and man. There can be no inherent incompatibility between orthodox theology, glorious liturgy, pro-life activity, full acceptance of the Church's moral teaching, and helping the poorest of the poor. On the contrary, fidelity to the Gospel, and fidelity to the Magisterium, surely require ALL of these. It is very unfortunate that some Catholics concentrate so hard on one or two of them that they tend to forget about the others.

I would also agree that political radicalism is required: but great care is needed here. Marxist radicalism must certainly be rejected by Catholics. It has been a catastrophe for the poor, and here in South America they are still being killed or impoverished yet further by the terrorism of the marxist guerrillas who run the cocaine trade.

I would suggest that true Catholic radicalism also requires one to break free of the tired socialist/statist mindset by which all of the main political parties in Britain continue to be enthralled even though it, too, has manifestly failed.

Deus Caritas Est would surely be a good starting point for what is needed.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks for this food for thought, Father.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, thought provoking. I also liked the post on the Christmas party at which Bishop Conroy visited, very kind indeed.

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