Monday, March 07, 2016

Fr Montgomery Wright

There is a Newman letter which basically says that the secret of the spiritual life is is getting to bed on time and getting up on time, I know it is true but I don't do it. It has been  my Lenten project.
Last night I saw on Facebook (and I then couldn't find it again there, so sorry for the absence of an accreditation) this rather amazing video about Fr Montgomery Wright.

I've known several people who loved him dearly and experienced his kindness personally. What I think is interesting are the glimpses into his celebration of the Old Rite, he had done it continuously. His celebrations lack the prissiness we have come, post VII, to attach to to it. He adapted it pretty freely to pastoral needs: no choir, he sings, if people didn't know Latin hymns then he let them sing it French.
Well, having seen that this next video came up, it is about a community of Carmelite nuns in their then new convent, it must be at least 60 years old.


Matthew Roth said...

I think that was because the community had a living memory. I know he said Mass in French before the Council, but Tres abhinc annos changed his mind. He has a medieval aesthetic appropriate for Normandy, which contrasts to the Baroque of the ICRSS. But both of them lack fussiness, and it is the fact that it is business as usual, but not merely business of course. When it is done irregularly or only on Sundays at one Mass, the traditional rite becomes fussy and there is a lot of trial and error.

vetusta ecclesia said...

I can direct you to the video on Q M-W, who was an old friend of my family (my parents knew him when they were all high Anglos). email me at

Vincent said...

I think you are right, Father, to point to the simplicity of the rites - that's exactly what I like, because often the fussing (kissing of hands, cruets, etc, for example) detracts from the ceremony itself. My view is that the servers are like a good butler. They know when to appear, and when to disappear; they never draw attention to themselves. The priest may follow the same model very easily...

Matthew Roth writes that the Institute "lacks fussiness". I don't agree at all; they celebrate the most fussy Tridentine Masses I've ever been to - I rather think that the aesthetic you talk about drives that. Perhaps though my aesthetic preference is driven by my having gone to, and learnt to serve at, the SSPX for Mass. That's a subtle point however, because the key point to consider is that it is the weekly saying of Mass which inevitably improves the familiarity of the subject and the smooth operation of the servers and priest. Of course, we must always guard against familiarity resulting in innovations or over-complications...

Fr Ray Blake said...

Hand kissing: I suspect there would have been much of it in St Gregory's time, as well as feet kissing, book kissing, chalice kissing, relic kissing, probably earlier than St Greg. Romaans and barbarians too seem to kiss everything but that isn't what I meant by 'simplicity' it was rather whilst haing great respect for the Rite tht Fr MW celebrated it in a workmanly way I give the example of a sung Mass without a choir. Personally, I am far too prissey to allow that, its the post-Liturgical Movement in me, not something priest's of Fr MW ilk would be too bothered about.

Matthew Roth said...

We must have different definitions of fussy and it being problematic. We definitely agree that regularly celebrating the rite means you can do it without overplanning. I am a bit obsessive, but I’m not nearly experienced enough as an MC to know it without any questions, and the celebrants with whom I with are in the same boat.

I can grant their aesthetic isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Even I find parts of it which aren’t mine. But that’s alright to me.

Marie said...

Thank you, Fr. Blake, for this video on Fr. Quinton Montgomery-Wright. I am a Filipino widow of an Englishman whose family was friends with Fr. Quinton [that was how my late husband spelled his name.]

My husband took me to Le Chamblac in the Octave of Easter in 1988 and we stayed in Fr. Quinton's rectory for three weeks. It was my privilege to have cooked a few meals in that very kitchen shown in the video and sat down with Father at that table as he put on his monocle and practiced his chant.

In the sacristy, Fr. Quinton taught me how to lay out his vestments just before Mass, taking care that the stole be in the shape of the letter M. It still creeps me out to remember waking up in the morning and the first thing to see was the cemetery. I didn't speak French, so Christian and I communicated in signs.

Fr. Quinton drove us to the shrines of St. Therese in Alencon and the Carmel in Lisieux and introduced us to a family living next door to Les Buissonnets. Father drove his car so fast, even his little dog was holding on to me for dear life while I clutched at my brown scapular.

The day we left Le Chamblac was the day the BBC crew arrived to start filming the Normandy documentary. Thank you, Fr. Blake for posting it, I finally got to see it.

A most blessed Eastertide to you.

Marie said...

Thank you, Fr. Blake, for posting this lovely video of Fr. Quinton Montgomery-Wright. I am the Filipino widow of an Englishman from Ditchling whose family were friends with Fr. Quinton [that was how my in-laws spelled his name.]

My husband took me to Le Chamblac on Easter Monday in 1988 and we stayed in Fr. Quinton’s rectory for the duration of the Octave. It was my privilege to have cooked in that very kitchen shown in the video and sat down to eat with Father, Christian [ his sacristan], and my husband at that table. It was also there that Fr. Quinton wore his monocle and opened his missal to practice the Quasimodo chant.

It snowed the time we were there and it got so cold, so Father invited us into his private study where he had a huge stone fireplace with a roaring fire. I found it interesting that the first thing you saw as you wake up in the morning was the cemetery.

Christian and I were of the same age and got along really well, cleaning the church and ironing sacristans’ surplices. I don’t speak French, so we communicated in signs.

In the sacristy, Father taught me how to lay out his vestments, taking care that the stole and the cincture were in the shape of the letter M. Coffee hour after the Sunday Mass was not for drinking coffee but Scotch whiskey brought by parishioners. And the local cider was really good.

Each day before Father drove us to see the sights, he locked up the leftover drinks in a kitchen cabinet and hid the key, or [he said] Christian would drink them all. But when we came back later, Father could not remember where he hid the key – but Christian always knew where it was!

Fr. Quinton was quite a host. One time he took us to a castle up on a hill where an old noble lady lived and there he celebrated the Mass. Then he drove us to Solesmes to hear the monks sing vespers. Father was disappointed that it was in French and not Latin. He also drove us to the shrines of St. Therese in Alencon and Lisieux.

Father Quinton drove his car so fast that even his little dog was holding on to me in the back seat while I clutched my scapular. [Years later, my mother-in-law would write us that Father Quinton died in a car accident. When people went to tell Christian about it, they discovered that Christian, too, has died of heart failure that same day, in his sleep.]

The day my husband and I left Le Chamblac was the same day the BBC crew came to start filming the Normandy documentary. Thank you very much, Fr. Blake for posting it, I finally got to see it.

Thanks again, Father and God bless you this Eastertide.

Martin said...

It may interest you all to know that Fr Montgomery's parish still exists all be it no
longer at Chamblac.
We will be commemorating the 20th anniversary of his death on Sunday 27th November.
Mass at 10.30 in the parish church of Drucourt,(20 km from Chamblac/2.5km from
Thiberville in the department of Eure).
The Mass will be followed by prayers over Fr Montgomery's grave at Le Chamblac and a
parish reunion/meal in the vicinity.

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