I have a strong sense that the Enemy is extremely active right now, attacking with great viciousness. Several friends of mine are under attack in parishes. I have had some nasty flack. It is centered on the use of the older form of Mass. The "anatomy" of the attacks are similar.
I read this from Damian Thompson‘s place. It distresses me. It saddens me. I have great respect for those mentioned.
This is not the time to have a fight.
In just I preface this by saying that there must be other sides to the matter.
That Latin Mass Society of England and Wales is in turmoil following the decision to cancel its annual training session in the Traditional Latin Mass at Merton College, Oxford. Dr Alcuin Reid and Dr Laurence Hemming, the organisers of last year’s outstandingly successful event, have been dropped, a source tells me – and Fr Andrew Wadsworth, Catholic Chaplain of Harrow School, is reported to have resigned as director of tuition.
As far as I can work out, some sort of class warfare has broken out in the LMS, between old-style members who consider the Merton event "elitist" and a new generation who are expert in staging High Masses (and tend to be scholars into the bargain). Let me quote from a very untidily written email sent by David Lloyd, former LMS chairman and one of the anti-Merton dissenters, to other committee members:
Our Society is constituted to provide the Mass to as many catholics as possible from all walks of life in churches and chapels the length and breadth of England and Wales, the majority of those who attend these Masses would not have understood anything of the splendour of Merton. It is wrong therefore for the favoured few to be able to indulge in the obvious luxury of the liturgy provided. Many people (laity) have worked for the LMS for many years for no more than their expenses and a good number of them have not claimed for anything at all. Look then at the tuition fees and the expenses paid from the figures provided for 29 first time and 15 second time delegates from England and Wales. The clergy were in awe at the generosity of the Society they must have been laughing all the way back to their presbyteries at the size of the party bags distributed as gifts. The whole concept of Merton (an Anglican institution) is privileged, the cost of Merton is obscene, continually asking our membership to subsidise elitist events is wrong. The direction the Society is taking is a cause for concern, high profile and elitism are the flavours of the day, committee must resist this, it must resist any thought of returning to Merton any proposal to do so must be overturned.
"Obscene," eh? "Luxury"? You’d think we were listening to a chippy Portsmouth Sandalista. The"whole concept" of Merton is privileged, we learn, and it’s an Anglican institution. But Merton chapel wasn’t built by Protestants: it was built by Catholics, and the traditional Masses I’ve seen celebrated there were especially moving because these were the ceremonies for which the chapel was constructed. Also, Fr Wadsworth’s tuition was magnificent: authoritative and prayerful.
I feel sorry for Julian Chadwick, the splendid chairman of the LMS, who had already announced that the next Merton conference would take place from August 24 to August 28 next year. Now, apparently, it won’t – not least because, now that Drs Reid and Hemming are out of the picture, Merton is no longer happy to host the event. (Incidentally, I gather that the Oxford MCs were not responsible for the ceremonial at Cardinal Castrillon’s Mass at Westminster, which may explain why there was so much faffing around in the sanctuary.)
What a mess. The Tablet will be thrilled. Well done, everyone.
I will keep the combox closed. You can send me e-mail on the matter and I will consider it.
Isn’t this infighting all so … imprudent?
For years now I have just locked in the grip of frustration. So many individuals and groups on what I, and many of you readers, know to be the correct side of things get mired in defending their own little bits of turf.
This division means that they are not able to form a large enough unified force for change.
On the other time, those on the other side for decades have acted as agents of discontinuity, agents of the Devil in my opinion.
This other sort of discontinuity, this division we experience between friends who are purportedly on the side of the Holy Father’s vision of continuity and reform serves a diabolical aim.