Saturday 22 February 2014

Re-thinking the Procession for Holy Communion

Here is a first-rate post from Fr Simon Henry on his highly-recommended blog, Offerimus Tibi Domine, entitled When was the last time you felt unable to go to Communion?

I venture, with some trepidation, to make a modest proposal.

In Clifton diocese the Holy Communion procession is a very neat arrangement, front to back, row by row. This results in those who do not go up to receive remaining rather conspicuously alone in the pew.

In contrast, I remember things as they used to be, both in my earlier years in Liverpool archdiocese, and as they were when we spent a good deal of time in a rural part of Ireland in the mid-2000s. What I recall is a bit of a scramble. All the communicants surged forward randomly, including those right at the back of the church. The people in the front pews sometimes had to wait quite some time before they could fit into a gap. In addition, some of the congregation liked to spend a little more time in prayer before receiving.

The “bun-fight” approach allowed for all sorts and types. It was untidy, but the very untidiness gave shelter to those who were unwilling or unable to receive. Nobody noticed what they were or were not doing. They could devote themselves to their own prayers and spiritual communions.

Really, it would be an act of charity to such members of the congregation. And, since the First Great Commandment relates to God, this giving of shelter and a degree of anonymity would also help to foster the respect due to the Blessed Sacrament.

Would congregations be willing to go back to the old, somewhat chaotic arrangement, if these genuine and very important spiritual reasons were put forward? Might it be feasible?

Image, via Google, from the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Wentworthville, New South Wales

Monday 17 February 2014

Pope Francis and the Pearl of Great Price

Many of you will have read Rorate Caeli's post about the discussion between Pope Francis and the Czech Archbishop Jan Graubner, on the subject of the Traditional Latin Mass. The Archbishop reports the Pope’s opinion as follows:

When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. "When I search more thoroughly - the Pope said - I find that it is rather a kind of fashion. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us."

If the report is accurate, Pope Francis thinks the Traditional Latin Mass is a fashion to which some young Catholics have become addicted as to a passing phase. He has come to this conclusion, because, as he is reported to have said, he has searched “more thoroughly” into the matter.

I am sure the Pope genuinely believes that his research has been thorough; but that does not necessarily mean it is so.

The evidence that the love of Tradition is a deep-rooted development lies not only in the slow but steady growth of the Traditional Mass in many parts of the world, but most dramatically in the vocational fruitfulness of those priestly and religious congregations who have embraced it. It is not for a fashion that young people give their entire lives to the Lord: it is because they have found the pearl of great price.

Image from Rorate Caeli's post on the recent subdiaconal ordinations of the FSSP