At Damian Thompson’s blog Holy Smoke, there is a report of a counter-attack on Pope Benedict’s Marshall Plan for the Church.
In so many places people are dropping the baggage imposed on the Church for decades by those who are know in the aging-hippie set. They are reevaluating our Catholic worship in a healthier light of tradition, in continuity with our past.
Other, however, some priests for example still think that Mass is all about them, or somehow isn’t meaningful enough in its texts and its gestures as simply described in the books. Mass must be made, "relevant"… "interesting"… "inviting", etc.
My emphases and comments.
Pandemonium at Ely Place
Posted by Damian Thompson on 05 Jun 2008 at 14:54
St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place, London’s only medieval Catholic church, is in a state of chaos after the new parish priest forced through trendy liturgical changes against the wishes of the congregation (and the Pope) at his first Mass there last Sunday. [His first Sunday. I don’t know how many times I have heard my conservative priests friends recount how they were warned not to make any changes for at least a year after being assigned.]
The deacon has been dismissed, the sacristan has resigned and the Master of Ceremonies is planning to leave following the appointment of Fr Tom Deidun, who has scrapped the tradition of celebrating Mass ad orientem, and insists on facing the people. [I know another parish where a similar trend is occuring. And I suspect that these sad developments happen not simply because of a difference of style, but because someone is being a jerk.]
The Rev Dr Laurence Hemming, the deacon and nationally recognised liturgical expert, has been told that his services are no longer required. “He has given us very generous unpaid support over several years, and now he has been told not to darken the door of the church,” says David Grant, a former trustee of the parish. [Nice, huh?]
Linda Helm, the sacristan, has also quit in despair at the dismantling of the traditionalist heritage built up by the former rector, Fr Kit Cunningham. She received a two-line letter of thanks for her 14 years’ volunteer work. [Ah the pastoral touch.]
A leading member of the parish – one of many who has contacted me – writes to say of Fr Deidun: “What a start – losing sacristan, deacon and MC all within his first week, and my suspicion is that we will also see the resignation of many of the servers, some of whom have been serving on the sanctuary for more than 30 years.”
I forecast trouble a few weeks ago, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. The Rosminian order, which owns the church, seems to have taken leave of its senses.
Pope Benedict has written extensively about the special dignity of celebrating Mass facing east, and wants the practice preserved wherever it is established and extended where possible. So what is the first thing Fr Deidun does? Turn west – to face the people, who have made it very clear that they wish him to continue facing east, towards God.
This would be regrettable in any parish, but it is especially painful to see such damage being done to the worship in a church dating back to 1290, one of only two surviving buildings in London from the reign of Edward I. I have no doubt at all that Pope Benedict would be horrified if he knew what was happening; perhaps someone should tell him.
Fr Deidun refuses to discuss the matter over the telephone, though we may meet later. But this matter strikes me as too urgent to leave until he finds room in his diary.
I hope Damian gets that meeting.