Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why This Waste?

Long Catholic blog rant. If you really want to read it, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Before Mass this morning I attended a talk about John's Gospel. The talk itself was very interesting, but not what prompts this post. In the course of it the priest (a Jesuit provincial) referred to John's account of the pound of ointment poured out over Our Lord's feet, and Judas's objection to it "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?"

He said (I translate freely while quoting from memory), "Judas had got behind what we might call the Jesus project - a world of justice and peace - but had not developed a loving relationship with Jesus himself" - and contrasted this with what we know of Peter and John.

This jogged something in my mind. One of the blogs I read so regularly that it's listed in the sidebar is written by a parishioner of the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen, on the outer fringes of London's estuary sprawl into Kent. Anybody who regularly reads British Catholic blogs, or the Tablet, will be aware that a couple of weeks ago the Tablet took it upon itself to have a go at her parish priest for saying one Sunday Mass not only in Latin but according to the old missal (which the Pope said a year or two ago could now be done without seeking special permission from the bishop every time). This is alongside a Saturday evening Mass, a Sunday morning family Mass, and a Sunday evening hymnless Mass all in English, so really it looks as though every taste is catered for, but some folk seem to be offended that anything "preconciliar" should happen in an ordinary parish at all, and this is music to the Tablet's ears (I used to read my mother's copies of the Tablet fairly regularly, because they were in the house, and am grateful that, indirectly and without their knowledge, they made it possible for me to spend half a year teaching English at a junior seminary in Malawi; these days I just give it the occasional glance while waiting for old books to be brought out of the strongroom in the Theology faculty library, if L'Osservatore Romano is already taken).

What another blogger I regularly read, in an alternative view from across the estuary, has dubbed "the tradosphere" (a portmanteau of "traditionalists" and "blogosphere") was briefly in an uproar about the Tablet's "hatchet job" (the wikipedia page was even "semiprotected" to stop a rash of hostile editing). My own experience of the "old Mass" (it's the same Mass, of course, always new and aways ancient, but you know what I mean) has never been encouraging - having an avid celebrant promise that “the Mass our martyrs died for” won’t take over fifteen minutes and you don’t actually have to listen to any of it, does nothing to endear the form; nor does being told that floods, famines and earthquakes could have been averted by people receiving communion without touching it with their hands - but I certainly got a great deal out of the way the Oratorians said Mass in Oxford, following the missal of Pope Paul VI in Latin and with a gentle, careful, painstaking devotion that I (perhaps mistakenly) mentally associate with Newman; and I can well believe that there are those who derive the same sort of benefit from the "preconciliar" missal when it's not gabbled through in an undertone.

I hadn't blogged about this because it's really none of my business (or the Tablet's either, for that matter), but one thing about the article did bother me, in a niggling, sub-conscious sort of way, and this morning's talk brought what it was into focus. It was the mention of "complaints about their priest’s refusal to support Cafod, [and] his expenditure on traditional vestments". Never mind the fact that collections do go to other charities, or that the vestments are often salvaged or hand-me-downs, really it only changes three letters of one word: "Why was not this vestment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?"


Mac McLernon said...

Fr. Finigan refuses to support CAFOD because they promote the use of condoms in Africa. He sends the money collected on what is advertised as a "Family Fast Day" to the Pontifical charity, Cor Unum.

Paul said...

I've rephrased the post to clarify.