Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Anonymous Letter

Gosh, I got a really dreadful letter today, anonymous of course, complaining about everything; basically saying I was creating a schismatic sect as a priest, and as a human being I was a monster. It was copied to various people of course.

The reason is that I put a note in the newsletter last week saying that we were going to experiment by saying Mass ad orientem, that is only at one of our weekend Masses.

I had been saying all our Masses for over the last month in this way because the new marble floor on the sanctuary was being laid, the altar had to be moved into the nave and there was no room to stand behind it.

Having experienced it, the problem is that many of our people developed a liking for it. I received several letters and emails from parishioners and various requests in person asking that we should do it, the main reason seemed to be that it made Mass more prayerful.

Admittedly last year I had encouraged people in the parish to read "Spirit of the Liturgy" and "Turning Towards the Lord" and many of them have read both.

There were lots of other complaints in the letter about vestments, candlesticks, liturgical language, everything basically, oh and my Latin pronunciation, though my Greek (Kyrie Eleison, I presume) came in for a real pounding. I showed it to one of my parishioners and she described it as "hate mail".

Certainly the letter was about ad orientem celebration but more so about enrichment of the liturgy and about those things the Pope has been encouraging in the liturgy but of course for many every word, every action of his is seen as retrogressive or even an abandonment of the Council. There is bitterness out there.

And yes, feel pretty hurt by it.


FatherTF said...

Why not put in the newsletter that you are going on a refresher course in patristic Greek in order to meet the concerns expressed by parishioners?

Richard said...

Commiserations Father; a letter like that must be a horrible thing to receive.

But interesting that the writer apparently knows enough about Latin and Greek to criticise your pronunciation!

Lynda said...

Father, I'm sorry you got such a malicious letter. The sender knows he is wrong too, in both the content and tone of that communication. Sadly, there is no reason or logic in the Devil's work. If one puts one's head above the parapet to speak the truth, such nasty attacks will rain down on one. It's a similar scenario, for instance, when one speaks out against the evil of the systematic killing of unborn babies - one is met with personalised spiteful insults. It is generally a wave of emotion that seems to come over the person who's attacking; it's a misplaced anger, etc., caused by something awry in his or her life, but they are unable to see that and seem powerless to control their behaviour. Prayer for the attacker, especially by the person attacked, is very helpful.

Physiocrat said...

If objectors to Ad Orientem celebration are unable to sign their letters and express their views in such an unpleasant way, this would suggest that you are doing exactly the right thing and that they are in need of our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Keep it up Father - don't be discouraged by things like this. It is usually a sign that you are doing something right.

I agree completely with Lynda - the person is probably seriously in need of prayer at the moment - not least because they didn't feel they could approach you in person about their concerns.

In their heart I am sure they must know that sending a letter like that can only bring discord and cause upset. It is in itself not a biblical way of dealing with things.

Will pray for you both.


Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr Tim,
I would but it is of course just very long, several pages in fact.

Richard, No "a friend told them".

Anonymous said...

Father, I immediately said a prayer for you. Do not be discouraged! It is faithful priests like you who give me hope, and aid in my discernment.
I would love to be a member of your parish, however I am across the Atlantic. Regardless, be assured of my prayer for you.
Do not be discouraged, you are doing the Lord's work!

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

If you're not getting flak, you're not over the target...

Anonymous said...

Damn the torpedoes, Father.

Full speed ahead.

John Fisher said...

Post it on the noticeboard with a rebuttal and calling the person a coward!

Paulinus said...

I'd say that's a pretty good sign, but not a nice thing toreceive.

Will pray for you and them.

Fr Barry Tomlinson said...

As an Anglican I find it hard to understand why people get so worked up about where the priest stands. I have 6 churches. I face westward in 5, in the 6th there is no room on the top step to move the altar and so I face east. Although my congregation all attend different churches in the group, no-one has ever commented on the fact that there is a different practice in Hunworth. There is a valid symbolism in both positions, and I believe we should use both without rancour. What we are doing is much more important than where we stand.

A Reluctant Sinner said...

Please be assured of my prayers, Fr Ray.

There are some very troubled souls out there. Sadly, some of them like to cause problems for others.

It's also sad to see that some people cannot stand the fact that we now have priests who actually love the Holy Father and openly share his desires for the liturgy.

Keep up the good work!

God bless,


Sharon said...

This person may have genuine concerns but what a pity that he/she didn't feel confident to sign his/her name or come to you personally for a civilised discussion.

Delia said...

Hard luck, Father. But if you'd had an anonymous letter congratulating you, then you'd really know you were doing something wrong!

I'm absolutely convinced that the three things most needed at the moment, all closely related, are Ad orientem, promotion of the sacrament of Confession, and expounding the Church's moral teaching. Things would soon be turned round.

So keep up the good work!

nickbris said...

Can we see a copy of the letter? It shouldn't be too difficult to work out who the Anonymous scribe is.

He or She might be in need of help or have their medication checked over professionally.

Could be a cry for help.

Fr Simon Henry said...

Fr Ray,
I know of two priests in similar situations just now (ie this week). What the anonynymous writer has a problem with is the teaching of the Church. You have excercised a perfectly legitimate option from the Roman Missal and that is being attacked. Therefore the person is atacking what the Church invites us to do. This is so often dressed up as "defending Vatican II" but is is pure unadulterated sefishness with the motivation, "I don't like it, you must not do it!" sadly, such "complaints" are often given rather too much credence in certain quarters.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Ray , this person is a coward.You are not and anyone who is in your parish will see that.Prayers and the Rosary for you and your flock. Hope the 'friend' of the scribe is blushing and will have not a few words to say to him / her.


Fr Seán Coyle said...

Be of good heart, Father Ray! I have been saying Mass ad orientem on occasion for nearly two years now, though not in any aprish church, since I'm not attached to a parish. When I did this for the first time at a weekly Mass with a groups of Sisters they didn't make any comments but have prepared the altar every week since for Mass ad orientem.

The post-Vatican II documents gave options, including celebrating Mass versus populum or ad orientem. Very few know about these options.

As an aside, partly related, I notice that this year at our novena of pre-dawn Masses, 16-24 December, quite a few people are taking Holy Communion on the tongue. Before Mass on the first morning I gave clear instructions about preparing for Holy Communion and how to approach the priest or EMHC. We use two EMHCs for these Masses, men always, as is the custom in the Philippines. Religious Sisters are accepted by people too. Ironically, the EMHCs themselves receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

May you and your anonymous correspondent have a Christmas filled with the peace that only the Lord can bring.

Ignatius said...

Strange how the one thing that gets Catholics most worked up is worship - something that it is not really all that important. Much more important to live your faith in God than just worship God. Is there something about the Catholic Church that produces this reversal?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Judging from the following, lifted from the Hermeneutic of Continuity blog, you are in good company:

'It reminded me of an old story from the CDF which I report as I remember it. One week, Cardinal Ratzinger was shown a copy of an Italian newspaper which had a hatchet piece about him. The junior official was nervous, thinking that the Cardinal would be angry. He read the piece through, then said "If I did not read something like that about myself each week, I would know that I was not doing my job."'

GOR said...

Hmm Father, I think there’s a Scriptural element to this. The complainant is taking you to task on Latin and Greek pronunciation and liturgical orientation?

The Devil knows Liturgy…? Well, of course he does - as he even quoted Scripture to Our Lord.

You’re in good company Father!

Quodsemper said...

My prayers and best wishes. Letters like this are always a shock especially when they are anonymous and you stare out across the congregation wondering if the writer is watching and preparing part 2!

My prayers for the writer as well!

Fr Ray Blake said...

It is at the back of the Church, together with my reply.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Ignatius: I am afraid it is not just Catholics that get worked up about worshipping God - most Christians, Jews and Muslims do as well. Perhaps it is all a hangover from that silly old first commandment.

blondpidge said...

Gosh I am so very sorry. Words are always incredibly powerful and are often deliberately chosen to have maximum impact.

What a shame that the author did not have the courage to take ownership of their words. Utterly cowardly and very spiteful. How horrible.

I am a seasoned veteran of similar behaviour but it still hurts just the same amount when I received my 500th vitriolic comment as it did when I received the first. More so when it's from a brother or sister in Christ. You feel you've somehow failed, although as you know this has little to do with you and is all about the letter writer.

Anonymous said...

I wish that all priests were like you. I don't know you personally but I have come to 'know' you through your postings and find you to be a very good priest who wants the best for holy mother church. As my mother would say in such a situation, "consider the source". I pray for you and your parish. I say continue to fight the good fight.

Matthew said...

Dear Father, be assured of my thoughts and prayers from across the pond. May Our Lord and Our Lady richly reward you for your faithful work.

Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our Faith!

Sadie Vacantist said...

... em t´nsaw ti

Hugh said...

Presumably it was detractive and written not for you but the person(s)it was copied to.

Anthony N. Emmel said...

Buck up, father. One letter out of many of praise and support. I know it hurts but remember:

[11] Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: [12] Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you. Matthew, Ch. V (DRV).

Fr Tim Edgar said...

Be of good heart Father, the same has happened here over moving the Tabernacle back to the centre of the Sanctuary and re-introducing the Missa de Angelis.

Православный физик said...

Hate mail means you're doing something right :), prayers from America for you Father.

Joe of St Therese.

gpiner said...

A priest told me several years ago that when he opened a letter and it was not signed, he did not read it and threw it in the trash, good advice I think.
BTW our priest has been celebrating mass AD Orientem for 28 years now. I guess that the people that those who don't like it leave.

Pastor in Monte said...

I'm so sorry; that's a horrible thing to have received. Of course, being anonymous, you can't be sure that this letter is actually from a parishioner. Its demands can safely be ignored in that case; you can make it clear that if any parishioner has legitimate concerns, he can always discuss them with you.
But it is horrid; one nasty letter hurts more than a hundred nice ones can soothe.
And I have a suspicion that it has been done deliberately to make trouble.

Father Yohannes said...

I was instructed by a wise and I believe saintly Priest who told me that before I read a letter, check for a signature; if the signature was missing, toss it in the stove…get some use out of it, for certainly it was inspired by the devil.

pelerin said...

Father I was shocked to read this today - please don't take it to heart. It is such a pity that the writer did not approach you first so that you could explain that what you are doing is all 'above board' and welcomed by so many here.

As for your pronunciation of Latin and Greek is the writer that old that he/she knows for sure how it was pronounced?

He/she does indeed sound bitter and the only way one can attempt to sympathise is to remember how we felt during the last changes forty years ago when we suffered in silence.

I do hope you get the opportunity to speak to this parishioner and that he/she apologises to you.

I am proud to be a member of your parish and am deeply grateful to you for having renewed my Faith.

Sandy Grounder said...

Fr Blake

I will say a prayer for you and for the person who sent this letter. God Bless you and keep up the good work.

Fr Francis said...

Be assured that the author probably hates Pope Benedict even more than he/she hates you - and probably more for the Pope's teaching on morals rather than on liturgy.

Chin up .... rather good company to be in - to mention nothing of Our Lord!

"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven." Matt 5:11-12

fidelisjoff said...

I am sorry that someone has been so uncharitable. Being a faithful Catholic priest is hard but there are many who support you father from reading your blog. Hopefully good will come out of it.

GuidoM said...

Try not to be hurt by the letter Father. These evil people are out there and the more closer to God you try to draw people the worse they get. There are many who would back you up for your ongoing deep love for the liturgy

Eugene Gallagher (Brighton) said...

To be fair, you have advertised study meetings on Vatican II during the last year in your newsletter where you stated that only people known within the parish were invited to attend. If you organise closed groups then it does give the impression of a special sect within the church, and raises speculation regarding what you are teaching in private to a small number of self-selected ardent parishoners that cannot be said openly and transparently in front of 'outsiders'. You also appear to take delight in presenting an alternative liturgical vision to the established status quo of the wider church in these lands and beyond since the reform of the missal, as well as being highly critical of many aspects of Vatican II - all these factors give the impression of a priest at variance with the teachings of the church (rightly or wrongly).

I imagine the intended reader of the letter was really your Bishop and his copy may have been signed. I am still not sure that you have properly considered the concerns raised by the letter's writer and, in my opinion, your response here has a slightly ridiculing tone.

I have some sympathy with the discontent expressed by the writer and can understand why they might want their identity to remain private. I wonder also if there were some expectation - based on previous examples - that their comments may end up discussed in your personal blog? The trad blogosphere (including some of your own parishoners) can be particuarly vicious and are liable to make very personal public attacks upon those whom they disagree with.

Fortunately, although I live in Brighton, I am not a member of your parish. If I was, I would find myself in the unpleasant and distressing position of having - in all good conscience - to leave the parish and worship elsewhere. I do not mean these comments unkindly but I do feel that you are serving only a small segment of your parishoners.

Best wishes and seasons greetings!

Matthew M said...

Anyone friend or foe who signs 'anonymous' does not deserve a hearing. Put on the Armor of GOD and charge into it.
I think you may have fallen into 'I'm a victim','my feelings are hurt', 'I must be more sensitive', do one thing - GET OVER IT!

Hughie said...


IN THE SISTINE CHAPEL: Wednesday, 20 April 2005

"Surprising all my expectations, through the votes of the Venerable Father Cardinals, divine Providence has called me to succeed this great Pope. I am thinking back at this moment to what happened in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi some 2,000 years ago. I seem to hear Peter's words: "You are the Christ..., the Son of the living God", and the Lord's solemn affirmation: "You are "Peter' and on this rock I will build my Church.... I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (cf. Mt 16: 15-19)."

Fr Ray Blake said...

err..., Eugene are you the author?

Anonymous said...

In the Christmas edition of Rev, last night, the liberal Anglican Father Adam, celebrated "Midnight Mass", ad orientum.I've often wandered into old Anglican Churches at lunch time and stumbled upon "Common Worship"services being celebrated ad orientum, without any fuss. So if it is fine for Protestants, why can't Catholics do it without such a row? As to anonymous complaints they are sickening. God Bless. Deacon Neil

The Bones said...


As someone who attends the TLM on Friday and who attends Catechism, it has always been clear to me that the invitation to Catechism is general (to the parish). All Father Ray asked is that people should be prepared to give a presentation on some aspect of the Catechism.

There is, as a regular attendee of this Catechism group, a diverse range of people and not all attend the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively.

Personally, I wouldn't want to speculate as to whether you are the author of the letter which it appears has hurt Fr Ray, but I dare say that even if you feel this way about the Catechism group, that you yourself should discuss it with him in person.

There is nothing exclusive about the Traditional Latin Mass. All are free to attend. There is nothing exclusive about the Catechism group. All are free to attend, as long as we are willing to prepare something for the group to discuss. It all seems perfectly fair to me.

I might add, Friday night seems like a good night for Catechism and the TLM. It means parishioners are given a choice on a Friday night. Pub, or God?

tempus putationis said...

Eugene surely needs to reconsider his understanding of a 'closed group/special sect within the church': a parish study group is expected to be composed of people from the parish. People who are neither from the parish nor known within the parish are not normally expected to attend. This is how the Church is organised.

As regards the charge of 'presenting an alternative liturgical vision to the established status quo of the wider church in these lands and beyond since the reform of the missal', one begins to wonder what this "wider church in these lands and beyond" (3rd time, lower case C) is that Eugene keeps referring to. Most of us reading this blog belong to the Holy Catholic Church established by Our Lord when he chose Peter.

The missal of 69 did not change the Ad Orientem assumption, as is evident from the rubrics. Vatican II did not change these things: it was the post-conciliar committees of layfolk-and-priests-with-attitude who changed things, with no authority.

Further, if he or anyone else can point to a Church teaching which Father Blake does not support, then let him be specific. Most of us reading this blog would be very surprised, to say the least, to find that Fr Blake was 'a priest at variance with the teachings of the church'. He loves the Church and her teachings, and that is why we love him.

Ma Tucker said...

Following Jesus is tough but that's okay. Keep going, ypu're doing fine.

Red Maria said...

Dear Father Ray,

Very sorry to read about the green ink missive you received but pleased that my laptop has finally allowed me to post a reply to you. This poor old machine, nearly an antique poor love, has been having problems with your word verification for some time.

Nicholas Bellord makes a very good point when he notes that our Jewish and Muslim siblings set great store by the worship of God too. He's quite right but I'd take his observation further: worship ad orientem - how I love the sound of it - takes us to the Semitic heart of our religion and hence is, in fact, a magnificently ecumenical act.

I'm sorry that Eugene lacks a sufficient sense of history and cultural sensitivity to grasp this point.

I'm sorry too that Eugene's concerns are for the established status quo in these islands rather than the needs of the broad masses; such reactionary sentiments would, I imagine, bring a wry smile to Our Lord's face.

Father Ray, you are an inspiration to countless Catholics, especially those of us who are socialists and internationalists.

Lucky Mary Magdalen for having you as a parish priest.

fidelisjoff said...

I would advise you to do your own research on what the Catholic Church teaches in all areas not just liturgical. You may be surprised how the "status quo" within the Church in this country has short changed you as it did me. There is a tangible tide turning towards renewal liturgically lead by the Holy Father this is how the entire Church is being led. The "status quo" as you put it should be questioned rather than the direction of the bark of Peter which is against the tide in many countries of the West. If you are challenged by what appears different first consider if you may be wrong I know ( and include myself) how reassuring it is to be confirmed in our thoughts even if they may be wrong. Have a good and holy Christmas.

Unknown said...

Father, I am sorry that you have received such a malicious note shortly before Christmas.

With the renovations and the preparations for a very busy time in the Church calendar, it is not the best time for you to receive such a Christmas "present".

Best wishes to you for this forthcoming Christmas and the forthcoming New Year

georgem said...

As Eugene says he isn't, fortunately, a parishioner so he can't be the writer of the letter. Only a fool would base his/her complaints on hearsay. Only a coward would send an unsigned letter or fail to indicate to whom else it has been sent.

Unfortunately, I am not a parishioner either. Would that I were.

Two things occur to me. First, I have no idea what is meant by "the wider church". One would have to know a great many parishes to assert that. Certainly, there seems to be a hazy understanding of how Catholic parishes work or, indeed, how Fr. Blake works.

Secondly, although I don't know the date of the letter, if there is one, it seems to have come hot on the heels of Fr. Blake's previous post. Do I detect an emerging pattern? Just my fancy, perhaps.

Father, be assured of my daily Memorare for you. Our Lady protects. If it's any consolation, almost everyone in the public eye is the subject of anonymous poison pen letters from time to time. There are sad people abroad who need our prayers, too.

Taking on board what Bones says, anyone is free to turn up at a pub for a good old face-to-face discussion over a pint. So much better for spiritual health than gnashing one's teeth.

john-of-hayling said...

Hello Eugene, has it occurred to you that "the established status quo in these islands" (as you kindly put it) sounds rather exclusive and cut off from the Universal Church? Talk about pots and kettles! This "established status quo in these islands" has a provenance that goes back nearly 40 years!Goodness knows how we managed for the other 2000.
Perhaps you might like to pay more attention to what the Holy Father promotes, and then ponder why why more parishes are not following the directions set from Rome.

Dilly said...

I suspect this letter is from a "spoilt priest" - that is someone who didn't qualify for the seminary (possibly female); never quite made it through seminary; or who made it through but left the priesthood and evinced a great hatred of those who remained.

If they have boasted about qualifications in Theology/Sociology of Religion/Classics that's another clue.

If they have admitted they are not a parishioner, then it is not really their business how the parishioners want you to say Mass.

I assume you pronounce the Kyrie Eleison in the way you have heard it sung on countless recordings of Sacred Music. That's how most of us sing or say it.

As a teacher, I have occasionally had badly behaved and lazy pupils blame my teaching, and that of others, for their failure. Doctors, nurses and lawyers can be unfairly blamed as well. It's an occupational hazard. Remember the criticism the Cure of Ars got about his orphanage?

Have a great Christmas.

Gigi said...

Ridiculous. There is never an excuse for poison pen letters and the Anonymous cloak in this situation is pulled over the head of a coward. I take it the person(s) responsible don't have the attributes to post their views on this Blog and receive open and fair criticism for their actions?
Thought not.
Don't let it get to you Father Ray: you can see how well thought of you are!

Ally said...

Try not to take it to heart....just forge ahead, it's worth it!

shane said...

Father I was very sorry to hear this. I have got nasty letters (actually emails) and I know how they sting. Hope you are feeling better.

Lawyeratwork.com said...

Fr Ray:
Hope that you are now fully recovered from your cold/flu.

Letters which are unsigned always have indicated to me that the author does not possess the necessary biological parts to sign the letter and stand by the contents of the letter as a witness.

Please do not take this letter too much to heart. It is just not worth it.

Eugene Gallagher:
I find your comments very bizzare. There is an element of spitefullness and unpleasantness in the tone of your comment.
Remember - we are all held to account one day.
I think we are all thankfull you are not a parishioner of Fr Blake.
Unfortunately, you may be a parishioner of some other poor priest!

Happy Christmas Fr Ray. You have many supporters length and breadth of the UK and Europe and across The Pond.
Happy Christmas to all.


FrBT said...


Send the letter to me. I have a log fire and I need some more material to burn.

Please accept my prayers and very best wishes for Christmas.


Pétrus said...


as a man you have your faults like all of us. The complainant seems to be taking exception though to your work as a priest.

As a priest I must say that one thing you most certainly are is loyal to the Magisterium of the Church.

As a parishioner attending mass for several years I have yet to see you do anything that was anything other than Orthodox. A "schismatic sect" really couldn't be further from the truth.

Would this anonymous individual be happier with you engaging in some of the liturgical abuses which have become the status quo in these lands?

My hunch is that they don't have an issue with you going against the teachings of the Church - rather their issue is just one of you going against their wishes.

The last time I checked the Church wasn't a democracy. We don't have "New Labour" focus groups. It isn't a case of conducting "market research" to see what customers want.

I am follower of Christ. I respect the authority of the Holy Father as his representative on Earth. I submit to the Magisterium of the Church.

I don't make the rules - I only do my best to follow them.

Anonymous said...

Prayers for you from New Zealand.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Wear it like a badge, Padre.

You have upset the Devil by your actions that are pleasing to our Lord.


You should be more hurt if the Devil sings your praises.

Anonymous correspondence?

A Padre once told me "I heard a rumor I thought I would ask you about. Would you like to hear it?"

"No Padre, I do not engage in the gossip of women, nor do I squat to pee". (old Mexican Proverb; sounds even better is Spanish).

We've had a pretty good relationship since then.

Don't listen to Satan.

He has had his chance and blew it.

Listen to the cries of your sheep that are crying out to Heaven.

We will continue to storm Heaven on your behalf.

Animo, Padre.

With the assurance of my Holy Rosary prayers for all your good work in the vineyard of the Divine Master, I remain yours truly in Jesus and Mary Immaculate.

Que Dios nos agarre confesados.


Pablo the Mexican said...

We have the children and old ladies praying for you, Padre.


Michael1 said...

On a slightly lighter note - amid gloom and unkindness - it is sometimes forgotten that 'in the old days' there was a good deal of ropey Latin pronunciation about, not only among priests but in the hierarchy as well. In his book on the Theology of Vatican II, Bishop Butler draws attention to the way some (often conservative) Council Fathers struggled with Latin, and I recall at least two English bishops whose pronunciation was no model for any priests to follow. If your pronunciation is imperfect by some standards, you share some once-exalted (and one hopes now truly exalted) company.

Damask Rose said...

Sorry you've been hurt Father. Keep up the good work.

Have a lovely Christmas.

The Raven (C. Corax) said...


As others have already said, an anonymous letter is only really any good for fire-lighters; I urge you to put it to such use.

peregrinus.sg said...

Eugene's comments sounds very reasonable at first glance but they fall apart on closer inspection.

First, Eugene never made the charge that the liturgical "novelties" introduced by the Pastor are illicit, but nevertheless seemed upset by them. But if these are legitimate options in the current Missal, shouldn't they be welcome as well? Ultimately, why treat a person harshly because he doesn't agree with your personal preferences?

Second, if the parish is using the Roman rite, then the practice of the Church of Rome would and should naturally influence the liturgical praxis of this parish. History is full of examples of this happening. Again, if the Pastor followed the example of the Papal liturgy in a specific manner, and it is not illicit for him to do so, why exert a personal preference and be upset about the matter? Why, more sinisterly, set the local Church against the Roman Church, especially since liturgical renewal is still ongoing?

Thirdly, what is the role of the Priest? To lead the people to Christ and his Truth with the demands of the Gospel and let his light illuminate areas of darkness in his children's lives, or to coddy them up with things they like? If the Priest is not heretical, the liturgical practices are not illicit, to want to leave a parish seems too great an assertion of ego.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father, gaudete et exultate quoniam merces vestra copiosa est in caelis! Rejoice and be extremely glad! [and prey for the author]

Fortiter Pugnem said...


I totally understand in your case that this letter was wrong. However, a neighboring parish once put it in there bulletins that it is disrespectful and wrong to write anonymous letters to priests. I disagree with that parish in particular ( I know I'll make everybody edgy though, but hear me out.)
This priest at this parish had a problem with adressing lots of topics. Also, the sercretary was (and still is to my knowledge) behaving in an unprofessional way as regards the financial statements. Everyone had tried- they had met with Fr., they had written him, the bishop, the priest's superiors (He was in an order). Nothing. When he started receiving anonymous letters-BOOM! They put this big ole whopper in the bulletin about how it is disrespectful to priests and blah blah blah.
The problem boils down to this (and I am not speaking for Fr. Ray's case): Do the faithful have the right, and even the duty to call out their priests on things? If so, then maybe that person wants to remain anonymous, and that is between Fr. and them. But if ut is NOT their place, then what? The parishioners go to eternal BBQ? It's about conscience.

One last time,in Fr. Blake's case it was wrong. Both in substance and in delivery, just plain wrong. But in general, what do you do with a priest that's just...hmm? How? Tell me!

Sorry I was long. Prayers from Kansas to all over there, especially Fr. Blake! Merry Christmas!

nickbris said...

tomponisReminds of when I first went to Sea,I couldn't do a thing right and even when I did it was round the wrong way.

When a Priest takes on a new Parish he will be looked on with suspicion by some parishioners who loved his predecessors,they will be feeling that something has been stolen and there will be constant whingeing about any changes.

I do recognise by the style of the letter who the person may be and I am certain that it is not really meant to be as bad as it is being portrayed,some of the changes have spoilt a routine just like getting out of bed on the wrong side.

Ridiculing the writer is a mistake and the copy at the back of the church really ought to be removed now. I apologise for my original comment on this matter

mikesview said...

Sorry to read on your blog about the 'orrible letter. Our prayers for you and the 'orrible letter-writer. Our commiserations and prayers for you. For the anonymous one cold charity with a brimstone sauce and a side salad of sack-cloth and ashes, washed down with a vintage bitter gall.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I have no idea who wrote this letter and I refuse to speculate, I think that would be sinful.

I don't know if the concerns raised by the writer are widely held, they maybe. If they are then I would hope that people who shared the writers them would know that another person at least shares their concern and might have the courage to discuss concerns with me.

I also think that there are some personal accusations against me, for example that I have actually banned someone from the church or simply that "I am doing my own thing" which are possibly the subject of gossip in the parish. I think it is important to address that issue.

If you do know the person concerned, do assure them of my prayers and that they are still very welcome here.
All I ask is they accept that people with whom they disagree are treated by them with respect and allowed to exercise the rights the Church gives them.

Fr John said...

Fr Ray

I hope this makes you feel better.

One priest in an archdiocese has had this done to him this week.

Someone has hacked into his parish email. They have then sent a SOS to all the email addresses, saying that he had been mugged, on the Continent and needed financial assistance.
This someone has also stolen all the parish email correspondence and all the email addresses.

This someone has also created a new email address which is very similar to the parish email address. Then anyone who tries to assist this well known and respected priest, is being asked for 1200 Euros - to get him back to the UK. Payment to be made via Western Union. All the emails are signed in the name of this priest.
This has caused a major problem. People have believed this 'SOS'.

Not nice , not good, not acceptable.

This Christmas - as in every Christmas, someone gets into trouble or is upset by actions or words.
Let us remember in prayer those who are suffering because of someone's actions.
There is always someone who is worse off than we are.

Happy Christmas.
God Bless
Fr John

pelerin said...

Interesting to read the news from 'Fr John' about the Priest's email being hacked. This appears to be a growing problem. Parishes obviously have a large list of email addresses and it looks as though these con men have realised this.

In 2008 I received an email purporting to come from a Brighton Priest. It was marked 'RUGENT!' (sic) and ended 'I await your shifty response' and of course asked for money as he had 'misplaced his wallet and was in Nigeria.' There were numerous spelling mistakes and grammatical errors so I knew it was not from who it said it was from. I telephoned the priest to tell him about this and learnt that others had done the same. He was not in Africa and had not lost his wallet. Someone had stolen his email details.

Early last year I emailed a Cathedral in France to enquire if there were any EF Masses celebrated there before visiting. I received a short reply by email from one of the Priests (the answer was no!). A few months later I received an email supposedly from the same Priest saying - you've guessed it - he was in Africa and had lost his wallet etc etc. This time I was ready and checked up on the diocesan website to see if he knew his address list had been stolen. I saw that he now had a diferent email address so obviously had changed it smartly and I had no need to contact.

By the way the first con man only wanted a 'loan of $3,500 US dollars to settle his hotel bills and get him back home'. I wonder whether anyone fell for it?

Father John Boyle said...

I have sometimes informed the parish about such anonymous letters. This is not my intention but the result has been that the writer is shamed and the parish rallies round the priest. It's my way of "confiding" in my parishioners and sharing the burden with them. You will find out you are much loved and this very much heals any hurt felt.

APL said...

Pray for this person Father . . . as the good Cardinal Ratzinger said (paraphrased!) "If you didn't read letters such as this you wouldn't be doing your job!"

πάντα [δὲ] δοκιμάζετε, τὸ καλὸν κατέχετε,

Hold fast that which is good!

Anonymous said...

Chin up, Fr. Blake! It's Christmas time; while everybody else is on holiday celebrating the coming of the Savior, Satan is once again reminded that he has lost - and those who share in the priesthood of Christ make him all the more angry because they only add to his torment.

I can't comment one way or another about the letter since I've never been to your parish, but you seem to be a passionate priest who is trying (and succeeding) to do the right thing in all cases - especially where it matters most in the life of a Priest (that is, at the Altar of God; the liturgy) Sometimes people are offended by this zeal for some reason; who knows? I suspect the letter writer would be a marvelous person to sit down with and have a good about the liturgy, about the priesthood, about the laity, and about the wonderful joy it is to live out the Gospel. The letter writer obviously cares; and that is a good place to start it seems to me, even if at the moment they care about the wrong kinds of things perhaps.

Prayers for you Fr. Blake and of course for the Anonymous writer. Hopefully this will all be sorted; either way let God's Will be done.

Anthony S. Layne said...

Dear Father:

Blessings and Christmas greetings from Texas!

I'm very sorry you received such a nasty letter. Unfortunately, the truism is true: you can't please everybody, especially if you try to do the right thing. Please don't give one or two cowardly critics with poison pens veto power over your actions!

I counted the number of responses you've received so far on this. You have supporters from all over! Be lifted up, stand firm and know your gift to the Church in your priesthood is appreciated. I've prayed to Christ, the Blessed Mother and St. John Vianney for your sake.

Again, Merry Christmas!

John Ross Martyn said...

Is it possible that the letter was a practical joke by some opponent of liturgical change? Or by somneone who sees himself/herself as a liberal?
A joke in very bad taste, to my mind, but a joke nevertheless. The use of green ink is suggestive in this connnection.

Fr Ray Blake said...

It was no joke, it was a "green ink" letter but not actually written green ink.

Warren Anderson said...

Sorry to hear about the nasty email. I've just started a blog and I am bracing for that day when it seems the inevitable will occur.

As a college teacher, I am regularly subject to the tyranny of year end course reviews. I say tyranny because, rather than comment on the course content or organization and presentation, students too often take advantage of the anonymous procedure to slash away at the instructor. Rather than face their own inadequacies or failings and project the same on to others, they almost seem to thrill at being able to cough out their bile with impunity, which makes them at once cowards and bullies.

Few, if any of the complaining types, ever take me up on the offer to submit even an anonymous letter under my office door, or request a meeting to discuss any aspect of the course or course work. It seems that, rather than take up the offer to listen to their concerns and help them in a timely manner, they would rather engage in assassination online or among their peers. There are times when the web fully exposes the unredeemed side of man and allows inconsiderate people to rampage in the worst of ways.

Peace be with you Father. You/we are not alone. The Good Lord sees all malice and we can take consolation from others whose clear thinking and humour can be a healing balm to sooth the wounds men inflict on us.

Lisa M. said...

Oh Father,

How could you not be hurt? Your bride has been viciously attacked by the one who hates God for all eternity. It is a good sign Father, you must be doing something right.

Lisa M. (usa)

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