Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Lions' Den

Perhaps it serves me right for not doing my research properly but I found myself in a situation last week that highlights what we are up against.  Quite innocently Mrs P and I accepted an invitation to attend a gig with friends in a suburban West End club. The singer was a moderately well known Irish woman. The crowd were identifiably West End folk: lawyers, doctors, teachers, civil servants, academics, middle managers. The set was folky with an identifiably left-wing slant (thanks for that Woody Guthrie) with a side order of feminism. There was a cheery song about anorexia. There was a song about how only women can feel low ( I  was tempted to heckle with the figures for male suicide, but resisted) Then the singer introduced a song by saying she wanted to dedicate it to "The Vatican" (What? The WHOLE of The Vatican? The CDF? The Congregation for Oriental Churches? The CDW?) It was ostensibly about child abuse and the Irish hierarchy's mishandling of it. In truth  it was a rant about Catholicism  - how we pray, what we teach. How did they get conflated ? Does the Catholic Church teach the rape of children is ok? It most certainly does not. The song used the vehicle of righteous anger at the disgusting way child abuse was handled to reject Catholic teaching and practice. So far, so predictable. In these circles it is accepted truth that all Catholic priests are predatory pederasts - just look at any blog post on Catholicism and I'd reckon it takes about 20 replies on average until clerical child abuse is brought up, whatever the theme of the post. Needless to say the song was greeted with warm applause, the warmest of the night. This was 'speaking the truth to Power', man, and the bien pensent Westenders loved it. For all their radical chic, the vibe wouldn't have been out of place in an Orange Lodge (F*** The Pope!). Many of the audience are policy makers across the public and private sectors in Scotland. I'm beginning to find the Irish difficult. I am of Irish stock ( a couple of generations back) and have always had a natural empathy. But the hostility to Catholicism I have experienced from Irish people has been at times irrational and vehement. A colleague described Holy Mass as 'mass delusion', a junior described himself as a 'recovering Catholic'. The Irish people I meet these days - once cheerful, unselfconscious Catholics - now seem indifferent at best and poisonously hostile to Catholicism at worst.  I am to blame for being naive. I grew up in an environment where the Church was weaved into life, where prayer was normal and the teaching of the Church respected (though not unquestioningly). There were hints of hostility- the verses of 'Faith Of Our Fathers' and the Feast of the Forty Marytrs hinted at something dark. But surely truth would conquer? Those abbeys and minsters and cathedrals would one day reverberate to plainchant and the Mass. Rubbish. Nonsense. The world hates us, as it always has and always will. We are now no longer odd, but grossly offensive to many people. I expect this to get worse.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quote of the Day: 17th September 2012

Re: Mohammedans and the film 'Innocence of Muslims'

"[Islam is] like Calvinism without the work ethic."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Atheism and agnosticism in 47 words

There is a fascinating poem in this week's Spectator magazine by Kathryn Simmonds:

The Unborn

mooch about and waste time
starting things they’ll never
finish. The next world
is nothing to them but shadows,
some don’t have patience
for any of that crap at all –

What, grass, they say waving
their wobbly arms, You mean
you actually believe in grass?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mass With Everything And Everything With Mass

A happy day last week when the pagan Mrs P and I attended the wedding of a friend. Our friend is a devout girl who has met a nice man who we hope will make her very happy. He is not a Catholic but is a baptized Christian. Their wedding took place in the midst of Nuptial Mass (if one is allowed to call it such a thing these days.)

Pastorally I think it a disaster to put many things – other sacraments etc - in the context of Mass (like baptisms in many parishes). I get the point of this being the parish community welcoming a new member into its midst, but something has been de-emphasised in the post-Conciliar rite that was quite clear in the Extraordinary Form. The distinction between the Mass of the Catechumens
(the Liturgy of the Word) and the Mass of the Faithful (the Liturgy of the Eucharist). It is quite right that the catechumens were removed from the ecclesia until such time a they were ready to accept the Mysteries. We live in such a time again now.

In a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, the simple pastoral fact is that half the congregation will not be able to take communion. Indeed, in this case the bridegroom could not receive communion together – only the bride, rightly, received communion. But the idea of Nuptial Mass is surely the Communion, full Communion in Christ of the bride and groom and is a sign, a mystical sign much beyond the marriage itself. It is a beautiful thing to behold.

Mrs P and I were married in the Roman Rite outside Mass (I heard Mass on my own that morning – in the quiet pre-dawn calm of St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh). It is a sadness that I could not have had a Nuptial Mass, but I married Mrs P, knowing her not to be a Catholic Christian and have to live with that sadness (but she has made me very happy in many other ways and I have this small sadness among the bountiful blessings we have enjoyed in our marriage). I think this was right. It didn’t frighten the in-laws, Mrs P felt more comfortable with it and, well, a valid marriage is a valid marriage. I was married in front of a priest in conformity with the law of the Church – everyone a winner.

The emphasis on Mass With Everything and Everything With Mass, I think detracts from the seriousness of the Mass, its sacrificial character and the purpose of whatever is being done (marriage, baptism etc.) either lost or puts Mass (THE biggest thing there is in human history) into the shade. The particular example of Nuptial Mass, is, I think really important. Between good Catholics it is a beautiful unifying thing that can have great meaning beyond itself. I’d be interested in your views.