Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Diocesan Pastoral Letter, and a Deanery Reorganisation of Masses

Last weekend we read out a Diocesan pastoral letter at all Masses and distributed leaflets outlining future plans for the development of the Diocese. The leaflet makes interesting and indeed, amusing reading in that it speaks of a diocese “founded on an immensely rich Christian heritage that has thrived and flourished over hundreds of years despite the many difficulties it has faced”. Directly beneath these words are two graphs showing the decline in Diocesan priests (from 360 in 1972 to 150 in 2013) and of Mass attendance (from 100,000 in 1980 to 40,000 in 2014).



If the Diocese flourished so well during the Viking Invasions and Reformation Persecutions but has dwindled in the last fifty years, we need to ask “what have we been doing that precipitated this?”. After all, we came through the Viking raids and Reformation in flourishing manner; why have we not overcome the person-centred, subjectivist, relativist ideologies of the1960’s? Probably because the person-centred, subjectivist, relativist ideologies tap into our concupiscence; we are all too keen on self-satisfaction and aggrandisement.

We are given slogans such as ‘a vibrant Church’ but this is obviously untrue: the only thing that has shown itself full to be full of energy is the progression of disintegration. This is not unique to our Diocese and Catholic leaders throughout the Western world need to wake up to the reality of the situation. Some have in fact woken up and are attempting to address the bad liturgy, bad catechises and failure to promote the priesthood that has gone on since the 1960’s, but these are rare men and too often dismissed and isolated by their confrères.

To point to increased lay involvement in diocesan structures, in liturgy and in pastoral care is not to indicate a flourishing Church, but to indicate a Church wherein the folk have been removed from their vocation as the leaven in the world to make up for the falling number of priests. This fall actually resulted from priests handing over so many of their tasks to their people in the mistaken idea that Vatican II’s call to ‘lay mission’ meant ‘lay ministry’, that they diminished the role of the priest (and gave the laity the impression that their vocation as the leaven in society -to which they are called by Christ- was of lesser value than then the cultic and governing role of the priest). Unless we re-affirm the role of the priest and promote the God-given call of the laity as the leaven in society, we will see no flourishing except that of increasing disintegration.   

Deanery Reorganisation of Masses...
Linked to the fall in the number of priests active in the Diocese, our Deanery recently worked out a plan wherein every one of our 10 parishes will have one Sunday Mass, since all Masses will be celebrated at a time which allows these Masses to continue should the Deanery only have 3 priests active over a particular weekend (or indeed, long term). The following is proposed for printing in our parish bulletin this coming weekend:

From the First Sunday in Advent (next Sunday) every parish in the Deanery will go to one Mass per parish. This ensures that even if only three priests are active, every parish can retain its Sunday Mass. For some to lose their favourite Mass time is annoying, but we should fit our lives around Mass, not fit Mass around our lives.
Our parish is blest in that, since we alone provide the Old Form of Mass, we will retain two Masses each weekend. I know many would prefer a New Form of Mass on a Sunday morning and would move the Traditional Mass, but we cannot demand that others are pushed out and marginalised to suit us. Further, none of us can claim the right to say that the Form of Mass that was good enough for the saints for 1500 years; good enough for the martyrs to die for, and good enough for our parents, is beneath us. Such haughtiness is not good, especially when it is directed towards the belittling of what the Church regarded as her greatest treasure -and which still has FULL EQUALITY IN CHURCH LAW with the New Form of Mass -and indeed, it has a certain priority in terms of Custom (on which some church laws are based). Let us rejoice that we have options other folk in the deanery do not.

Attitudes hostile to the TLM are not limited to this parish; it seems it is quite widespread, and to arise from a detestation for and fear of the past (a past wherein the Church flourished). Is it not time to regain our humility before God, and our gratefulness that we have any Mass –and priests- at all?

24 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you.
      The graphs are not helping the Diocesan cause, are they?
      God Bless.

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  2. Yes bring back the TLM but also bring back the catechesis to go with it. Its more than a sacred meal. Its the very sacrifice of Our Lord on the cross. He told us to "do this in memory of me"
    How many parish Masses express this aspect/truth? Instead its all about man centered 'community' and feeling good.
    Sad very sad. .

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    1. Thank you.
      The man-centerdness is the problem in all areas of Church life, I think.
      God Bless

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  3. Father,

    I didn’t know you also said the Traditional Mass. You have gone up further in my regard.

    But I really must correct you on one thing. You propose to say in your parish statement that the Old Form of the Mass still has full equality with the New. I suggest that be reversed. More accurately, the New Form of the Mass, ( I mean what is 44 years in 2000), is a valid Mass, or at least the Pauline Form is, and as such it now enjoys full equality with the Tridentine Mass, as well as several others which existed I think for two hundred years before Trent, including possibly the Sarum?. That was made absolutely clear in Quo Primum, the defining document in these matters.

    The Church in the UK is in freefall. This is tragic, and it is outrageous that our Hierarchy are still in complete and determined denial about it.

    Now nothing is simple and there are several reasons for this freefall, but the illegal, illicit, invalid suppression of the Catholic Mass of Ages is certainly the major single factor.

    Yes, and we thought the Vikings were a problem!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you.
      I agree -what is 44 years compared to c.20000?
      Suppression of the Traditional Form shows they fear it; if it were innocuous they would have no problem with it.
      God bless.

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  4. God bless and protect you in your defence of the Faith, love of God, and fight for the salvation of souls. You are a light in the dark.

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    1. Thank you, Lynda.
      I do my best, but pray to walk the walk as well as I can talk the talk, as they say! What a bind concupiscence is!
      God Bless.

      Delete
  5. Until the Church defends marriages adequately all this "discussion" will remain superfluous.

    Until the cries of annulment respondents who have born the scars from EVERYONE are heeded, this all remains superfluous.

    Unless marriage is restored all of this will remain superfluous.

    The clergy are out of touch with reality. THAT is reality.

    Karl

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    1. Thank you.
      No aspect of Church life is superfluous Karl; all are an aspect of the life of Christ in His Mystical Body, but yes, until the Church gets it right about Marriage, family and life (not follow the worldly ways which the recent Synod very nearly did) we are missing a vital component of our ecclessial, spiritual life and Gospel witness.
      God Bless.

      Delete
  6. This antipathy towards the traditional Mass by so many of the clergy is quite bizarre and shows a lack of knowledge about so many things that it has to be a matter of great concern. It is beyond dispute that the traditional Mass was perfectly legal up to 1970. It has now been established beyond dispute that it was never abrogated when the new form of Mass was introduced and is still perfectly leagal. But what is rarely ever discussed is the legal status of the new Mass.

    In April 1969 a papal constitution Missale Romanum was promulgated purporting to be the law governing the new form of Mass, as yet unpublished. In this document it is not a law but an explanatory introduction to a permission. Even the word Constitutio is not found anywhere in the document - only in the title. There is no abrogation of previous legislation (eg, banning the existing form of Mass - the TLM) and no clause ordering the introduction of the new form of Mass. There is no sentence to show that it is obligatory, let alone exclusive. There is no dating clause to show when it should come into effect.
    This did not prevent the powers that be from saying that it was a binding law (which it clearly was not). To do so they had recourse to a mistranslation which, curiously, was common in all languages. The relevant phrase is 'cogere et efficere'' which means to sum up and draw a conclusion. However, all the translations, without exception, presented it as 'we now wish to give the force of law to...' Why was this so?

    In June 1969, when the 'Acta' was published, a brand new clause had been inserted which stated, 'What we have ordered by Our Constitution will begin to take effect as from November 30th of this year (1969).' This is the first and only time that the word 'Constitution' appears in the text. For the first time also a word signifying 'to order' appears in the text. And for the first time a date is given on which the order is to become effective. Thus is a permission turned into a law!!!!

    All this is contained in Fr Bryan Houghton's book 'Mitre and Crook' in which he exposed the legal shambles that surrounded the introduction of the new rite of Mass. As Fr Houghton also observed, the word 'praescripsimus' is not the proper tem in Latin and it is in the wrong tense. Full details are given in his book but in essence what he said was that the logical conclusion to be drawn was that "since nothing 'was' prescribed, nothing 'is' prescribed; and the legislator to boot, is still prescribing nothing'."

    Fr Houghton's conclusion is that the new order of Mass is only a permission, a licit exception, a derogation to previous laws that are still in force. They had not been abrogated. The irregularities do not invalidate the law but, he said, it does not matter much as it is only a permission.

    All this needs to be understood when discussions take place about the legality of the old Mass because the real discussion needs to be about the rather strange circumstances surrounding the introduction of the new. Those clergy who passionately oppose the old Mass should explain precisely why they do so. I excuse the laity because they have been fed a diet of misinformation and deliberate untruths for decades. It is time for clear statements about both forms of Mass - for the education of the laity and the protection of those priests who celebrate the old Mass.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for this very informative comment.
      God bless you and yours.

      Delete
  7. I am wondering why it takes a priest, an associate on a generous 3 year salary, an administrator currently being advertised, to figure out which churches to close. Then we all get a glossy leaflet each telling us what we already know! I am sure the bishop or any of us could get out a map and essentially do what is necessary. The money wasted might have kept a church open! This is not to mention the reason for the decline which comments above cover.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Pat.
      These are very good questions...and I wonder how much the glossy leaflets cost? Churches could easily be selected by Mass attendance and financial state in relation to required repairs etc.
      God Bless.

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  8. Which diocese is this? I missed that bit.

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    Replies
    1. The Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle, which I doubt is in any worse a position than any other in the UK.
      God Bless, and thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  9. I wish there was a latin mass near me. There are hardly any in this country. I will have to move far from my home in the future in order to experience the mass. It's very sad.

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    1. Thank you.
      If you have some friends who would also like to have a Traditional mass, why not politely ask the Pastor to provide it? He is required to do so, and if he can't say it himself, he (or the Bishop) is to find a priest who can. Read Summorum Pontificum.
      God Bless.

      Delete
  10. As I'm not from the diocese myself, I've had to look on the Hexham & Newcastle website to find out about this and, sadly, there seems to be complete lack of attempt to encourage vocations. When dealing with a vocations crisis it seems defeatist to spend tens of thousands of pounds on hiring bureaucrats to close Churches instead of hosting vocations events. Also, sadly, I think this is a result of Youth Ministry which often emphasises love of your neighbour, but ignores love of God

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    1. Thank you.
      I recently wrote to the Catholic paper in our Diocese to say that vocations to the priesthood need to be emphasised rather than lay leadership. It received some adverse reactions, which shows that priesthood is simply not valued as it should be.
      God Bless

      Delete
  11. By remaining faithful to the truth and promoting the ever beautiful Tridentine Mass, your spiritual fatherhood will lead many to the Truth and salvation. In the end, when the Immaculate Heart triumphs, you will be joyfully close to Our Lady as well.

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    1. Thank you. This is my hope!
      God Bless

      Delete
  12. The tone of your posts and some of the replesyou receive are often very negative and disparaging of your fellow Catholics. No wonder people find Church less and less attractive.
    The demise of priestly vocations cannot be attributed solely to internal changes such as a lack of vocations promotion or liturgical reform. Surely it is part of a secularisation which, in turn, is not necessarily an evil or somehting to be scorned. Rather it is a sign that the once all-powerful Church has allowed us to use our faith to live full lives which embrace science, religion, new forms of evangelisation and spirituality. As for our faith focusing on love of neighbour rather than love of God (see previous reply to your post) how ludicrous. God is not a man in a cloud. At least I hope not!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for contributing, Concerned.
      No one on this blog disparages persons; we check for that carefully, but we do criticise ideologies methods etc.
      I agree that secualrisation has a massive impact on priestly vocations; that is why all the Christian denominations are struggling with vocations, not just the Church. But one cannot deny that this is not helped by removing ministerial tasks from the priests and handing them over to the laity; if the priest becomes a manager more than a priest (which is what is happening) who will be attracted to it? No young men I know will give up marriage and family life to be a manager.
      Focusing our faith on neighbour is not commensurate with the first coomandm,nt which is to have no idols before God; as our Lord said, we are to lover God with our whole heart and our neighbour as ourself -there is a distinction here that is not comfortably noted when the emphasis is on social justice for our neighbour. Surely God must come first; love of neighbour can only grow from sound connection to and love of God, from whom flows all love (willed goodness or agape/charity).
      God Bless.

      Delete

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