Monday, October 15, 2012

Peasants, Plebs and Snobbery

Coat of arms of the Diocese of Speyer under Cardinal Damian Hugo Graf von Schönborn in Bruchsal (Coat of Arms at Bruchsal Castle)
I found this comment on a blog, it describes Pope John XXIII, I suspect it was one of those "that just got through", so in this instance I don't blame the magazine itself, but I was horrified by the snobbery of this particular reader:-
He was an avuncular Italian peasant who delighted, as peasants do, in such fripperies. Fortunately there fewer such people in positions of power in today's Church.
It reminded me of the alleged "plebs" remarks of the Chief Whip and also of those stories of a certain rather prominent Dominican Cardinal who when not holding a balloon at Mass or discussing theology seems most happily at home talking about his own family coat armour, quarterings.
Wise Mgr Gilbey once speaking about a particular group of Catholics who were into these things as "doing so very little good with the greatest possible amount of fuss".
It strikes me that one of the things Sunday's Gospel seemed to underline was leaving these baubles behind. I simply can't understand why really very good and holy clergy and laymen are into these things but then I suppose maybe they can't understand my fascination for lute music of the English Golden Age but then that doesn't seem to want to make distinction between people.


Just another mad Catholic said...

Father, the 'pleb' Popes and Priests have always been the best; St Peter, St Pius X, Ven John XXIII and of course our beloved German Shepherd to name just a few.

Also when you think of the disaster that the nobs and nobility of the Church (read Alexander Borgia, money grubbing Cardinal Worsley and the domminican Cardinal you allued to) have done to the Church you see the wisdom of abe lincoln when he said "the good Lord loves the common people, thats why he made so many of them".

Frederick Jones said...

I wonder if the Good Lord has much time for inverted snobbery either. People cannot help their social origins but are responsible for what they make of them.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Saint Therese the Little Flower would kiss the ground where a Priest had walked.

God deserves the best, and when we are serving Him, we should adorn our alter-Christus in finery.

And make our Churches worthy of the Blessed Sacrament.

We Mexicans have a habit of always kissing the right hand of a Padre when we greet him; it is the hand that worthily holds the Blessed Sacrament.

Nothing but the best, always.


Tony Flavin said...

"doing so very little good with the greatest possible amount of fuss"

I'll be quoting that one. Thank you.

A Reluctant Sinner said...

Excellent post, Fr Ray.

Thank you.

Lazarus said...

I'm reminded of the story that the philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe, was once described by a colleague as having 'the faith of an Italian peasant'. She quite rightly was hugely flattered by the description.

Sixupman said...

The description was stated somewhere else prior to the source you have quoted and I was taken aback by the 'quip'. Could it have been by a Jesuit, these days they have an inflated idea of their own standing?

GOR said...

True, Father. But the ‘snobbery’ doesn’t just come from family origin or means. There is an ‘intellectual snobbery’ among others – some ‘theologians’ and ‘liturgists’ in particular – that demeans simple piety and popular devotions as the stuff of ‘unlettered peasants’ (the Irish, the Poles and the Italians were frequent targets).

The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican comes to mind.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Yes, that was starting point.

johnf said...

I remember that Mrs Khrushchev was impressed by Bl John XXIII's hands. She said that they were the hands of a peasant. That a peasant could rise to the pinnacle of the church's hierarchy was quite astounding to her.

I am beginning to wonder whether the Church is the only institution where this could happen in these days of TV smoothery.

Sue Sims said...

Cardinal Wolsey was, notoriously, the son of a butcher: much of his life, and the evil which accompanied it, seems to have been devoted to living down his origins among a society which valued noble birth.

In the end, both snobbery and inverted snobbery are dangerous. "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Frederick Jones said...

Leo the Great and Gregory the Great were both aristocrats.

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...