Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brick by brick Summorum Pontificum

Every year we have a Mission Appeal, I always like to hear about how the Church is growing but often the priests who come to preach have a certain idiosyncratic way of offering the Sublime Sacrifice. I mean in the past I have had priests who don't know how to vest, who have wanted to celebrate Mass with just a stole or wear the stole over the chasuble and have odd gestures (like, heaven forfend, extending their hand at the Dominus Vobiscum before the Gospel).

Today we had a letter arranging the annual Mission Appeal, so in what will be five years on from Summorum Pontificum, with the Roman Rite celebrated in two usages, and us having a weekly Sunday Mass, I told my secretary that we needed a priest who could celebrate our 9.00pm Mass in the Usus Antiquior.

And..., I was delighted and surprised the answer was, "No problem".
Well done African Missions Appeal!


Fr Barry Tomlinson said...

As a priest who has worked in a developing country I would comment that a priest who doesn't know how to vest, or who just uses a stole may come from a very poor parish where vestments are unaffordable. Surely what he says and does is more important than his unfamiliarity with liturgical garments.

Unknown said...

Fr. Barry, What he says and what he does happens to include how he vests for the sacred liturgy. It's no small matter. And anyways, he's a priest, he should know better.

Fr. Blake, great news! I've often seen some of the questionable practices of some of these missionaries, I'm happy for you!

frd said...

Good news Father - but this problem isn't usually about material poverty. It's usually laziness - or perhaps a certain kind of "clericalism": it's ok to give the People of God second best and anyway, no one will notice or care.

And the worst offenders are not the indigenous priests from developing countries but usually those closer to home who, as Ben says, ought to know better.

GuidoM said...

I certainly agree with the last two comments. Very relevant.

What the priest says, how he vests, acts etc... all these things are intrinsically linked and are absolutely vital.

Fr Barry, there is NEVER EVER (unfortunately i cant underline those last two words)an opportunity where a priest should give second best, and that INCLUDES liturgical vestments etc... if you want to get lturgy right you have to get things right. It would be like saying the EF in a rainbow stole and chasuble. Use your brain!

Mary Magdalen gave her utter best to the Lord when she poured the jar of scent on his feet. We should do the same in liturgy, give the best we have for the BEAUTY of our churches: if it means the priest going without TV or radio for the sake of the beauty of his church and liturgy: so be it, and its about time some of them learnt just that!

Secondly, Fr Barry, I think your argument about unaffordable vestments is absolutely RUBBISH: you can get perfectly suitable vestments from ebay, catholic liturgicals. com, chasubles.eu, at the SAME COST, if not often cheaper, than the rubbish that these priests in third world countries have and CHOOSE to buy. That excuse is just not valid any more. It's time to grow up for once!

That said, I am very very happy for Fr Blake that he has found someone. It is about time they were taught the EF. I have seen far too many shabby liturgies and strange practises.

Sorry for the rant but it must be said

Nihil sine Fide.

Arturo said...

Fr Barry Tomlinson, I notice that you are a Protestant clergyman, I think you will find most Catholic clergy even in poorest parish should ensure that the "Sublime Sacrifice" is offered decently, that means the correct vestments are worn.
They are a necessary prerequisite for us, not a decoration for the clergyman (or in protrestant churches clergywoman).

Anonymous said...

I'm with Fr. Tomlinson. It seems to me that in an attempt to undo the lazy (if not downright destructive) attitude of the Church of 1950s to 1990s our young orthodox Catholics are getting a bit too fixated on the detail. I dearly love the Old Mass, attend it when I can but for heaven's sake! They're saying the Mass! They're getting the Bread of Heaven! They're trying to approach the Throne of Grace!

Orthodox said...

Reverend and Dear Father Blake,

Firstly, thank you for your continued work for the restoration of our Catholic faith!

In response to the comments;

As a South African living in a half first, half third world country I can personally vouch that such things as priests not knowing how to vest or say Mass properly is due to nothing other than a poor, exceedingly poor, priestly formation which is currently afforded to seminary candidates in such countries such as my own.

Since the changes following the Vatican Council , and the advent of such things as 'inculturation', the normative Roman liturgy in Africa and all that goes with it, smells, bells and incense have quite literally been 'chucked out', along with anything with the least hint of Catholicism .

It would seem that many(I do not intend to generalise)candidates see the priesthood as a means out of poor and impoverished living conditions, so in effect, the sacred priesthood is no longer seen as a vocation but rather as a form of employment in a country where nearly half of the population live below the poverty line.

Please do keep in mind that I am speaking as one of the Catholics who still live in a South Africa soaked in the liberal legacy of such people as the now late Archbishop of Durban Denis E. Hurley O.M.I, and his cousin the Bishop of Rustenburg His Grace Kevin Dowling.

Only recently, have we seen something of a real and substantial change coming in a return to Catholic belief and Practice, firstly from the current ordinary of Johannesburg His Grace Archbishop B. J. Tlhagale -see(http://www.catholic-johannesburg.org.za/bishops/buti_tlhagale/Chrism2011/) as well in some of our recently ordained Priests who are working tirelessly to reverse and repair the damage done to the hearts and minds of the South African faithful by none other than their own predecessors.
(See http://maryvale.co.za/)

I do believe that I might have missed the point somewhat, however you get the just of the story.So to sum up its not as you thing or as others might think , that being in a developing country the material poverty and lack of finance affect the way in which a priest says Mass, not in the least.

What does hold true is that as with most of the Catholic world there has been a general crisis of faith which can be seen and understood even amoung the clergy who are poorly formed, who do not understand themselves as Alter Christus but rather as Social Workers (especially in SA) and in some cases revolutionaries.

I pray that with Gods help, we might see more of the restoration of the faith through the kind support such as yours in the form of African Mission society and the support of the Extra Ordinary Form.

I hope I made sense

Please pray for the Church in Africa

In Christ and our Good Mother


Fr Barry Tomlinson said...

I take the point that a priest should vest properly, but I would still say that there are communities struggling to find enough to eat. The laughable suggestion they should use ebay shows how little some people understand the poverty that exists in the world. I find Christians (of all denominations) make great sacrifices to ensure that their worship is honouring to God, and many of the poor give far more generously than those of us in the affluent West. I was merely pleading for a little understanding that some communities have very little and their priests may therefore be unfamiliar with full vestments.

GuidoM said...

Thank you Calvin for your comments. It is lovely to have someone truly from these countries putting it that way, and who sees the TRUTH of the matter.

As regarding anonymous. Of course they are saying the Mass etc... no doubt about it.

But detail matters: it can bring man closer to God. Watch the program Roger Sruton did for the BBC: why beauty matters.

It does and it IS important. Just look at the atrocious architecture, "sacred" art, vestments, statues etc that we have produced. Does THAT elevate your soul to God?

All I can say is God help you if it does. You must be quite unwell, Sir

Fr Ray Blake said...

I do not think my visitors are from "communities have very little and their priests may therefore be unfamiliar with full vestments."

For a Catholic priest to be unfamiliar with the rubrics on how to dress after six years of formation would be truly shameful. If he fails to do so it is obviously either affectation or sheer ignorance, if his rubrical knowledge is deficient, I would have grave concern about he his theology.

mikesview said...

I am intrigued as to how you infer that Fr. Barry Tomlinson is a Protestant clergyman. His profile doesn't specify anything in particular. His blue shirt is hardly incontrovertible evidence...is it?

Anonymous said...


A quick search on Google will show that Rev Tomlinson is an Anglican vicar.


Crux Fidelis said...

In recent years in my own parish we have had a number of priests from Ghana and Nigeria on supply while pursuing further studies. Mostly they have been aged under forty and their devotion to the Divine Liturgy has been nothing short of exemplary. It puts many of their Scottish counterparts to shame.

Francis M said...


In my parishes we have priests from Africa who supply in the summer. Most of them are in the midst of post grad education. They always are polite and try their best. I am not here when they are preparing for Mass or preparing/delivering the homilies.

I have never had a complaint as yet from the parishioners.

At first it was a question of getting used to a different accent. (The same applies to European priests). Then it was the matter of seeing a priest who was unfamiliar to the parishioners. Also, there was the matter of the Homily being said in a gusto and 'enthusiasm' which was very different to the way that they were used to.

What I am trying to say is that we should accept changes with tolerance, understanding and mercy.
Sometimes it is difficult to see other ways of doing certain things. But we all learn from new approaches, a new person in our midst. Sometimes we have to gently assist and gently correct matters which need adjusting.

Every priest, in his heart has the Lord Himself, through the Sacrament of Ordination. Let us accept that part of The Lord as we would accept The Lord Himself.

Let us recognise The Lord as if we were on that road to Emmaus.

Francis M

Fr Ray Blake said...

Francis M
The problem is more with Europeans on the missions.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Fr Vincent Capuano SJ had an excellent article, relevant to this discussion, on the Adoremus website in 2006, Can we correct5 liturgical abuse in religious communities? [http://www.adoremus.org/0206LiturgicalAbuse.html ]. He writes as someone who has worked in remote areas and who sees the goodness in his brother priests. There is a form of clerical 'liturgical' culture that has grown in the last few decades that is very difficult to break through. It is found more, perhaps, in religious communities and in societies of apostolic life.

I did many mission appeals in Britain between 2000 and 2002 and during two summers since then. One thing that happened twice, and here in the Philippines once, was the parish priest insisting on the use of the Mass for Pentecost Sunday on Saturday evening, even though there is a Vigil Mass with its own special prayers and readings. One told me that the obligation went with the Sunday Mass! None of these parish priests were 'wild radicals'.

berenike said...

It is the religious who bring the most liturgical nonsense to Poland - Fr Coyle's comments corroborated.

Rev Tomlinson - of missionary appeals I have sat through, the dodgy sermons and ars celebrandi were always by middle aged or elderly Irish missionaries. Great guys, truly, most of them, amazing stories, but does that mean one can't not p**** around with the liturgy?

Lynda said...

Unfortunately, a great many of the "elderly Irish priests" do not subscribe to the one holy and catholic faith of the Church; for the most part, they got very poor formation, and many went in to the seminary for the wrong reason. Apart from a few religious orders, most Irish priests, ages 50s to 80s have trained and ministered in a liturgical, pastoral and academic milieu which owes more to a buddhist, relativist, popularity-pandering ideology than to the Catholic faith/Church. The ACP, an association of Catholic Priests, gives a good flavour of their worldview/religion. One wonders at the name - in every other way the leaders of this extra-Church group do not identify themselves as Catholic priests or as members of the Catholic Church. It is very sad - not only for their own souls but for the souls of those they influence (or could have influenced if they were true to the faith and their holy orders). It is because of this most grave matter that there is serious culpability by those in positions of authority vis-a-vis these priests. If you came upon Mass at the church in my parents' parish in Ireland, you could be excused for thinking you'd walked in on an ex temporised one-man pantomime/cabaret.

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