UPDATE 2356 GMT 23 Feb.
The Tablet attempts to silence Fr. Finigan’s response.
UPDATE: 2014 GMT 19 Feb:
His Hermeneuticalness, Fr. Finigan responds.
I mentioned a while back that the UK’s ultra-leftist weekly, nicknamed "the bitter Pill", but regularly known as The Tablet was probably going to published an attack on Fr. Tim Finigan, P.P. of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen near London.
This week they published a real hit piece. A reader sent me the text.
Keep in mind that this article was written for no other reason that to discourage and intimidate priests in the UK from implementing Summorum Pontificum in their parishes. Therefore, in this article, every tactic is used…. as you will see.
Here it is with my emphases and comments.
That was not my Mass
by Elena Curti
Nearly 40 years ago, that was the comment of the keenest supporters of the Tridentine Rite as the new rite was introduced. Now the sentiment has been reversed in the suburban parish of Blackfen, where a priest’s introduction of traditionalist liturgy has split the parish [But has it really? Or is the "split" really a very small splinter group?]
Each Sunday at around 9.45 a.m. a team at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, in the south-eastern suburbs of Greater London, erects a wooden stepped platform faced in a marble-effect laminate on the altar. On this is placed a gold crucifix, six large candlesticks, vases of flowers and altar cards for the celebration of the old Latin Mass. Welcome to the parish of Fr Tim Finigan, popular blogger and leading light of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.
Fr Finigan is in the vanguard of priests determined to restore “tradition” to their parishes [notice the " "] and, step by step, he has introduced elements of the extraordinary form into the liturgy at his church. [So, it wasn’t a sudden imposition.] The centrepiece is the weekly Sunday Tridentine Mass at 10.30 a.m, introduced in the wake of the Pope’s motu proprio allowing wider celebration of the old rite. During his 11 years in charge he has also gradually brought in other traditionalist touches that have split the parish. [Again, has it been "split"?]
Between 30 and 40 people no longer attend the church and a similar number have taken their place. [Yes… but that happens in the course of events anyway…. but read on.] The row about numbers has become so heated that supporters of Fr Finigan carefully count the numbers attending the Sunday morning old-rite Mass. [Not all that unusual to count in a parish, really.] An auxiliary in Southwark diocese, Bishop Pat Lynch, has been called in to mediate.
In what was once a fairly typical parish, [typical of what?] there are no extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. [I have spent some time at that parish. The church is quite small. Even when full, there is no need for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion – which is the proper term. However, some people think they must be employed out of a false sense of the role of laity and active participation.] Altar rails have been installed and the parish priest makes it clear that he prefers communicants to kneel and to receive the Host on the tongue. [He has the right to express his preference, I believe.] Communion is not usually offered under both species. [So?] At a regular Sunday evening Mass in the new rite, there are no bidding prayers and the congregation is not invited to exchange the sign of peace. [The sign of peace is an option left to the discretion of the priest.] Fr Finigan says the Eucharistic Prayer with his back to the congregation [No, he doesn’t. He is facing liturgical East together with his congregation.] with the stepped platform, properly called a gradine, on the altar. [I thought the "gradine" was the stepped part above and behind the altar. Fr. Finigan must be pretty talented if he says Mass from there.] Unaccompanied hymn-singing has been dropped after the priest complained it was a “torture” to continue to inflict it on the assembly. [Well….]
Old-rite Masses are also usually celebrated on major feast days including Midnight Mass, and there is a regular Mass in the extraordinary form on Saturday mornings. The ordinary form is used for the Saturday vigil Mass and the Sunday 9 a.m. children’s Mass. Weekday Masses are in the new rite. [Now… does that sound unreasonable?]
But Fr Finigan’s critics fear that their parish is gradually becoming a flagship for the Tridentine Rite. [And this is the REAL point of this whole exercise. The liberals are terrified down to their spandex liturgical dance togs that the older form of Mass may exercise an influence over the faith of the Catholic people.] They claim that most of those who welcome the trend are newcomers living outside the parish. [So? Liberals never travel to find the Mass they like?]
“Six parishioners wanted the Latin Mass here. I have no objection to them having it once a month or once a week, but it should not be the main Sunday Mass and it should not be imposed over the whole parish,” said Les Thomas, a member of the delegation that went to see Bishop Lynch. [Now… how would Mr. Thomas know that there were six?]
Mr Thomas is one of nine parishioners [6 versus 9! This is sounding like a fluctus in simpulo.] I met who claim that Fr Finigan’s dedication to “tradition” has hurt the parish. Most of them have served as readers and/or Eucharistic ministers. [I seeee…. and since there is no real need for "Eucharistic Ministers", as the writer incorrectly calls them, they are bent out of shape? Is the picture starting to come together?] Four say they can no longer bear to attend Mass at Blackfen, the rest doing so under sufferance. [They are free to stay or leave. Sad, but if they have to go, farewell and come again when it suits you!]
“It is a matter of principle. I won’t be driven out,” [Who is being "driven" here?] says Eddie Sweeney, a former master of ceremonies and scoutmaster who has lived in the parish for 57 years. The group describe feelings of irritation, discomfort and sadness at the changes that have been made. Those who prefer to stand for Communion and receive it in the hand say they feel selfconscious doing so at Fr Finigan’s Masses. [So.. is this about feelings? I am getting the sense that it is not about what is right to do liturgically or what the rights of other Catholics may be regarding the Church’s worship.]
Several said their adult children vowed never to go to the church again, such was their unhappiness with the liturgy. “People who have been away from church come back at Christmas and Easter and are totally put off. It is so sad,” [What does that mean, exactly? "Put off"? They didn’t like something… their feelings were hurt. What are they actually expecting in a church, in a Mass, I wonder. What was their formation at home and in catechesis?] said Jean Gray. A woman who asked not to be named said she had known Fr Finigan for many years and he had been a “rock” supporting her family through some difficult times. But she felt moved to complain after she asked him to celebrate a Mass for her daughter’s favourite aunt who had recently died. She did not realise at the time that it would be entirely in Latin. “My daughter cried through most of the Mass because she could not join in. Afterwards she said: ‘That was not my Mass.’”
[At this point we have to stop. First, we have the issue of "joining in". There is a false understanding of "active participation" at work in a statement like that. Also, the writer has been doing nothing but playing on feelings. She is trying to tug at the readers emotions in order to plaint Fr. Finigan in a bad light. You can’t argue with emotions. That is the whole point here. You cannot defend yourself from this sort of attack. Remember that the point of this article is to intimidate other priests.]
Rules introduced include an insistence on silence in the church before and after Mass, which critics said meant there was little opportunity for parishioners to mingle afterwards, losing an important point of contact especially for the elderly. [WHAT? This is ABSURD! Again, I have been at this parish. People mingle and talk outside, in the hall next to the church (which they can reach without going outside or by steps. I stood outside and in the hall and chatted with people after Mass without problems. There is a parish PUB nearby for crying out loud! This is a red herring. Furthermore: churches are sacred spaces for the worship of God. They are not meeting halls or parlors.]
There were also complaints about their priest’s refusal to support Cafod, [Catholic Agency for Overseas Development… I don’t know what the money goes toward or how it is distributed. I suspect it is like the older version of the Campaign for Human Development in the US, which had questionable aspects.] his expenditure on traditional vestments and other clerical garb, the absence of a parish council and failure to account to parishioners how money from the collection plate was being spent. [Okay… this is pretty nasty. First, there is a usual liberal false dichotomy of "traditional" v. "concern for the poor". If you have a nice chasuble, you must hate the poor and want to take the bread from their parched lips. But Curti is now, in a newspaper, suggesting that Fr. Finigan is not using parish funds properly. That is an underhanded thing to do as a journalist if you don’t have proof. Also, I don’t know much about Cafod or what Fr. Finigan does or doesn’t do about it, but one time when I was at Blackfen, there was a special clothing drive going on to help children of poor families. I also remember Fr. Finigan telling me about fixing the roof and doing much needed brick and mortar work around the place.]
Matters came to a head last October when one parishioner, Bernard Wynne, a retired management consultant, set out his grievances in an email to Fr Finigan and asked for a parish consultation. He copied his message to a number of parishioners and invited them to make their views known. [So… this fellow who wasn’t a parish trustee or anything other than a parishioner just decided on his own to do this. I wonder what the real reason was. Was he too an unnecessary minister of Communion? Did he have his feelings hurt in some way and was striking back?] The ensuing correspondence resulted in about a dozen people objecting to Fr Finigan’s approach and about the same number supporting him. [So, he stirred up unhappiness and created a split. Nice. I am reminded of Anthony Trollope’s The Warden and Barchester Towers wherein John Bold and Mr Slope stir up the bedesmen to make trouble for the warden, Mr Harding. In the end, everyone is wounded … and all for nothing.]
In her email Susan Reynolds, a parishioner for 35 years wrote: “I grew up with the Latin Mass and remember sitting watching men and women saying the Rosary, slyly reading the newspaper or making responses they didn’t really understand. The English Mass made us participants and co-celebrants in the sacrifice of the Mass. The instruction to ‘open the windows and doors’ is one of the most liberating things to happen in the Catholic Church. If you listen carefully you can hear them being shut in Blackfen.” [O brother!]
Fr Finigan’s response was a 35-page essay, in which he set out the thinking behind his use of the “traditional liturgy”. But it is in a lecture to the Latin Mass Society’s training conference at Oxford last year for priests learning how to celebrate the extraordinary form that he set out his strategy. He told the priests they were the “infantry” who need to overcome “real problems and difficulties” in bringing the extraordinary form to their parishes. He said the priest had a responsibility to persevere even in parishes where there were not a large number of people requesting the old rite.
Parish reaction to the introduction of the old rite would find a few “very favourable”, a few “strongly against”, and “the substantial majority who simply wonder what Father is doing now”. [sounds about right] It was, Fr Finigan said, “important not to neglect this majority of our parishioners in deference to a vocal minority”. [A reasonable point, though admittedly the minority needs attention also.]
When I spoke to Fr Finigan he admitted there had not been a stable group at Blackfen who had requested Mass in the extraordinary form as set out in the motu proprio, [Huh? Not even three? That is all there is needed for a coetus. I thought there were six.] but over a period of time he said most parishioners had accepted the liturgy and some, particularly young people, had become very enthusiastic about the old Latin Mass. He pointed out the three Masses in the ordinary form that people could attend on Sundays, adding: “I am not going to be able to please everybody. I would like people to gradually be able to settle down and accept the way things are now.” [reasonable]
The parish priest rejected the idea of a consultation [Again, the usual liberal line is that everything has to be done by consensus.] or the setting up of a parish council on the grounds that it would be a “bear pit” and “people would be at each others’ throats”. With regard to the parish’s finances, he said he was arranging to get help so that a summary of income and expenditure could be published for parishioners. [Okay… so he did in fact respond.]
Fr Finigan put me in touch with five parishioners who support the changes at Blackfen. One was a mother of seven-year-old twins, Wendy Kane, who lives just outside the parish boundary and has been attending Our Lady’s for seven years. She felt delighted with the liturgy and said it had strengthened her faith and that of her family, adding: “The extraordinary form is not what I grew up with and I never experienced it before. I personally find it a beautiful form of worship.”
Another supporter, Julia Jones, a 38- year-old teacher who moved to the parish last summer, said: “I have been very moved by the silence and palpable feeling of devotion, especially during the Eucharistic Prayer. I have gained greatly from the experience in only a few months. I really do believe that I have found ‘the pearl of great price’.”
Bishop Lynch said this week that the whole parish needs to build communion through prayer and social activities. “You need a situation where people respect diversity but can also come together,” he said.
Fr Finigan trained for the priesthood at the English College in Rome and has worked in parishes in south-east London for 23 years. Through his blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, which recently had its millionth hit, he has become well known. He is also a visiting tutor in Sacred Theology at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh; and there can be no doubt that he considers bringing the old rite to his parishioners central to his ministry.
Some welcome what Fr Finigan is doing. It is equally clear that some do not. If Fr Finigan is right, and the priest’s responsibility for the liturgy in his parish is absolute, there is nothing parishioners can do about it. And there could be many more Blackfens in the future. [And that, folks, is the real point of this article.]
The progressivists are terrified.
They are afraid that Fr. Finigan might succeed.
They are attacking him in order to discourage other priests from doing what Fr. Finigan is accomplishing.
They hate what he stands for and they earnestly will work for his failure.
And not just failure.
They want him to fail and suffer in his failure.
They will do anything and to anyone to prevent the older form of Mass from resurging.