Monday, April 20, 2009

It is Brighton


It is a strange parish, I have had people pull out knives to show me in the confessional. We had to abandon having an offerory procession, not after the wine got drunk on several occassions or the ciborium was stolen, it was the dog excrement under the altar breads. We tried keeping the Church open but then someone hacked the collection box out of the wall, we closed it after someone was stopped with an armful of candlesticks.
I have to keep an eye out a Holy Communion for Satanists who want to steal hosts or drunks who just want a slug of the Precious Blood.
We used to put on talks and seminars I stopped inviting people when one or two of our parishioners were so rude and speakers refused to come a second time. I have had people wander through the sacristy and into my house and steal things. On one occasion after the evening Mass I found one of our regulars had walked into the house and gone to my bedroom and was asleep in a guest bedroom, I fond her when there was a crash upstairs.
From time to time someone wanders in off the street and creates a disturbance, improvising prayers or telling me or the congregation we are all hypocrites. Sometime ago we had crackhead with two barking dogs who shouted and ranted during our Saturday evening Mass, then picked a fight with an elderly lady. At Christmas Midnight Mass someone exposed themself. Holy Saturday someone put a hammer though the sacristy window, they used it to rob a local shop. Last week someone had a rant because he didn't like the way I was celebrating Mass.

It is Brighton, but sometimes it feels like a war of attrition.

49 comments:

Volpius Leonius said...

Sounds like you need the Swiss Guard more than the Pope Father, maybe he could borrow you a couple.

Laurence England said...

It's meant to be so peaceful and PC and friendly - in reality - it is not. It's about as peaceful and friendly as The Tablet.

carl said...

Do they teach how to deal with these strange occurrences in the seminary, or is it trial and error once you become a priest working in a parish?

Volpius Leonius said...

Does it really require special training Carl?

How would you deal with it if this was your home?

Call the police I would imagine, this is no different, most of these things are still illegal I believe.

USLawStudent said...

Insofar as you meet all those types of people at seminary, you learn those things at seminary, haha!

Ma Tucker said...

Look on the bright side, it is better to suffer here than in purgatory. If it's any consolation we pray for you every night in our Rosary. May God fortify you.

Fr. Gary V. said...

Father, I think you need an army to protect the Fort. The way you described it is even worst than an inner city parish here in the U.S. Does your local police care that you are always under siege?

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Good gracious me!

George said...

It IS a war Fr Ray, but it's dimension is 'Spiritual' as the devil knows full well the extraordinary good work that you do and well, put simply throws his demons at you from every corner available to him. There are enough poor folk in Brighton as every where else who fall easily to the devils temptations and are then manipulated to do these horrible things - especially where the Holy Sacraments and the Sacred Host are involved.

These things happened to many of the Saints - most notably St john Vianney, where in some cases his bed was even set alight!!! Hopefully you'll be spared that one Fr!

Only one answer and that is prayer - rest assured of mine. Rallying call to all bloggers - Please keep Fr Ray and St Mary Magdalen Parish firmly in your prayers.

Can it get any worse - perhaps a visit from a Tablet reporter!!! - Ha..haaa...

Michael Patrick said...

As a parishioner, I know that all these things have happened and they are appalling. But dont forget the other side of the coin. Because we have such a good parish priest there is a warmth and a welcome at St Mary Magdalen that it rare and precious. Think about the increasing numbers who come to daily Mass, the devotion of so many of our young people, coffee in the presbytery kitchen after daily Mass with all that laughter and talk, coffee on sundays in the Centre and the spag bol on Friday evening. Most parishioners love this parish and appreciate the wonderful work that you are doing. So please take heart despite the horrors.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Interesting comment from an American visitor on this blog. I read an interview with a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal (as in Groeschel's crew) who claimed working in the East End of London was tougher than the Bronx. Our inner city parishes are functioning in a completely secular environment. At least in New York there is a chance of a sympathetic latino cop to at least show some residual interest.

nickbris said...

If they did that sort of thing in Khartoum or Islamabad that would be the last we ever saw of them,they do know that.

They do it because they can,cowards & bullies with no self-esteem.

Care in the community with no CARE.to attract the authorities to their various predicaments they have to resort to diabolical behaviour even MURDER.

They are brushed under the carpet like nonentity rubbish and when things go wrong the rest of us have to pick up the pieces.

Mark said...

God Bless our Priests.

berenike said...

Supportive noises.

montymark said...

That is terrible to read, but not too surprising, I'm afraid. While it's not nearly as bad over here, I have heard stories.

But what can you do? The vast majority of people attending Mass are the decent sort, or so I'd like to believe.

I'll keep you in my prayers, Father.

berenike said...

That will be Fish Spag Bol, I assume?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Berenike,
Friday during the Easter Octave = Sunday!
I hope you neither abstained nor did penance on such a day, Sinner!

Crux Fidelis said...

I haven't been in Brighton for nigh on 30 years so was rather shocked by your account of the goings on at St Mary Magdalen. Here in Paisley we are no strangers to the anti-Catholicism which pervades so much of Scottish life but I have only ever once witnessed an attempt to disrupt Mass (this was from a regular communicant who had been having some psychiatric problems). More power to your elbow and God bless you.

SPQR said...

This is why I have unbounded admiration for priests. You carry such burdens through life, for the benefit of the rest of us - and yet we so rarely show enough gratitude.
Keep up the good work, Fr, and God bless you!

Henry said...

Chesterton had a lot to say about the sort of thing you are describing.

He said if one had anything stolen in church, it was bound to have been in a Catholic church.

Such goings-on are not so very different from the kinds of things that happen in the gospels.

Surely this is a sign that the church is authentically Catholic, and faithful to its charism. We are, after all, in the front line of the fight against evil.

Volpius Leonius said...

Its probably because any kind of disturbance of a religious service is against the law in the US and you will get locked up, that's part of the safeguards put in place to guarantee people religious freedom I believe.

Religious Freedom is only paid lip service in the UK however and we have no such constitutional rights, in fact certain members of the government, media and educational establishments actively encourage hatred of Catholics which leads to people doing some of the things described here.

Elizabeth said...

Where ever you have a good and Holy priest in charge of a Parish, then rest assured the devil will not sleep. You are obviously doing something good and right as Michael Patrick rightly points out.
"Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is on the prowl" (1 Peter 5:8). We need to pray, in a way we have never done before, the Lord's Prayer, "But deliver us from the evil one" (Mt 6:13); and the prayer of the Church in the Mass, "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil and grant us peace." Perhaps we need also to recite Pope Leo XIII's prayer to the Archangel Michael, as our Holy Father encouraged us to do in April 1994, "to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world." As George points out this is a battle in the spiritual realm and the only way forward is to put on the armour of prayer, but we need to strenghen our faith with the words of Jesus 'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world'. John 16:33

Thank you Father, you are doing brilliant work both in your parish and on the blogs, you are in our prayers.

Henry said...

Disturbance of a religious service is against the law here too but if people are mentally disturbed, is calling the police the most appropriate action? It is not unknown for disturbance to come from someone who is a regular parishioner who may just be unwell.

On the more general points that have come up in the posting, I suppose it is some kind of distinction to end up in the front line like this.

Kate said...

Fr., you must indeed be doing great work for God,I'll pray more for you.

dillydaydream said...

I know it might be seen as a "political" act having an ulterior motive, but surely you have good grounds for restricting Holy Communion to one species (or give by intinction) on the tongue, at the OF Masses where this is a particular problem. I would hope that the Bishop, and the majority of your parishioners would support this (at least for a trial period, till the desecrators move on elsewhere). I remember in my former parish several years ago - well before Sum.Pont (Shrewsbury Diocese) that after someone took a host in the hand and disposed of it in a drain outside, the otherwise "relaxed" PP reverted to "on the tongue" for a good while.

Michael said...

While I am all in favour of Communion on the tongue and receive that way myself it really is no safeguard. A Host which was stolen from the London Oratory was received on the tongue and later desecrated on the internet. I have noticed at least at the Birmingham Oratory the presence of " Communion Police", ( for want of a better term), a couple of gentlemen who stand unobtrusively behing a pillar keeping an eye on the communicants.

One of the most depressing things of all is to see the lack of reverence which so many Catholics receive Communion. At Downside Abbey I saw a man take a bite out of the Host before popping it in his mouth as he walked down the isle.

mafeking said...

This cannot be normal even by Brighton's standards surely. It's a compliment from the devil, it has to be. Well done.

Terry Nelson said...

This could be the plot of a great sitcom - better than "Bless Me Father".

bowsk said...

on the same day that someone put a hammer through your sacristy window, a random passer-by rung on your door to say that there was a mobility frame outside the door which happened to have someone's (your sacristan's) handbag in it. You remember the hammer but not the handbag.

It's easier to remember the bad things than the good...

Fr Ray Blake said...

bowsk,
Hammers tend to stick in the mind.

Someone reminded of another handbag stolen and retrieved be a retired policewoman who wrestled the young thief to the ground and retrieved it.

Volpius Leonius said...

"Disturbance of a religious service is against the law here too but if people are mentally disturbed, is calling the police the most appropriate action?"

Of course it is mentally ill people are not above the law, they may require different kinds of sentencing but the law still applies to them.

By this logic we would not call the police if a homicidal maniac was killing people because he is after all mentally ill and the law only applies to sane murderers.

Rusticus said...

Living in a quiet village in the Westcountry it came as a real shock to read what Fr Ray (and presumably other priests in similar situations) has to endure on a daily basis.

You will be in my prayers, Father; may God bless, strengthen and sustain you.

carl said...

Volpius,

Honestly, I would find dealing with all of this to be very daunting. I'm considering the priesthood, and I do not relish the idea of dealing with all of these sorts of things.

gemoftheocean said...

Amazing how the "distrubed" and troublemaker types straighten up and fly right when in presence of a police uniform.

Some years ago I had attended Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York city, not long after "ACT UP" [a particularly "in your face" "Gay" organization was pulling their stunts at St Pat.] -- "New York's Finest" in full uniform were standing EXACTLY next to priests and EMs as they gave out Communion.

There were NO "incidents." Funny how that works. I'm sure it would have "made the day" of Officers "Murphy, O'Reilly, Stankowitz, Rivera, and Bartolucci" if someone tried it on.

Sorry with all the trouble you're having. My own parish is in a district that gets a lot of tourists and transients and we have had our share of "incidents" of vandalism etc, but not nearly as bad as you've mentioned.

[I agree with adding the St. Michael's prayer after Mass - along with a discrete video camera or two up in the "Gods."]

Too bad you can't borrow the Eastern Rite entrance of the "gifts."

KAren

Volpius Leonius said...

If you really are called to the priesthood carl then I would imagine God would give you the strength to deal with such things.

However it is good that you know these things now as the priesthood is indeed a very difficult and demanding vocation.

If you think this is bad how would you cope with a government that wanted to kill you like the martyrs had to?

Of course you could always employ permanent ushers to provide security that would probably help and would make them responsible for dealing with this kind of thing rather than you.

Fr Ray Blake said...

This stuff isn't happening everyday!

Though Brighton is a bit expetional.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Carl - the main problem today is heretical theology & philosophy plus no support or affirmation of orthodoxy. I couldn't do it but best wishes anyway!

Augustine said...

This stuff should be put on vocations posters. Most young men are put off by the thought of turning into boring old prelates like the outgoing AB of Westminster...

Volpius Leonius said...

This brings another thing to mind, I have noticed at the local mosque they have a police officer stationed outside it whenever they are open, if they can get that why not a catholic church, especially if their is a record of trouble that has been reported to the police?

berenike said...

Arrrr. I thought it was a weekly spag bog. It was listed by an earlier commenter along with daily tea, weekly something, you see.

The OCarts never eat dairy on Fridays, ever, even if it's Christmas Day. Discuss. :-)

carl said...

Volpius,

Thank you for the encouragement. I agree God will strengthen me for whatever he wants me to do.

Sadie,

You make a good point. One of the things that makes me hestitate is how brazen Catholics are to reject the Church and her teaching (authority). I worry I would be very frustrated. Staying in the confessional wouldn't bother me, but Catholics who won't deign to go to Confession, would be hard for me.

Lots to discern.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Google "eucharistic adoration" and "crime rate" and you will find a couple of interesting pieces.

Volpius Leonius said...

"but Catholics who won't deign to go to Confession, would be hard for me."

Do what the old priests would do and take confession to them. And give them a good shouting at while your at it, remember you would be a Father not a brother.

Paulinus said...

At the last the Mass we chanted for the Annuciation there was a jakey who came in at the back of the Church. One of the choir went down from the choir loft to see if he was OK. He didn't cause any bother but was clumsy due to the booze and dropped his bag (containing a bottle of vodka) when he stood up for the Pater Noster.

He was very apologetic and was seen gently on his way but left us to clear up the vodka, which a member of the congregation did after Mass had ended. She looked in the bag and exclaimed: "Smirnoff??!!! That's a jakey with style! Isn't there supposed to be a credit crnch on?"

That's as bad as I've ever seen it in suburban Glasgow. Prayers, as ever, offered for you, Padre.

Hermit, without a permit. said...

be assured of prayers Father.
PAX

Sadie Vacantist said...

Carl ~ I started reading stuff on http://eastangliaseminarians.blogspot.com/ and frankly was put off by what some guy called Paul was writing. I commented about the Catholic blogger from the Nicky Campbell business who, by contrast, seems to "get it".

Paul is in his last year at Oscott and I couldn't make ant sense of what he was saying.

Go figure.

I'm old you are young. I am sure you have the strength to do this but it will hurt.

George said...

To Carl and others discerning a vocation to the Priesthood - Jesus, never promised the easy life, he did promise persecution in His name. Being a Catholic Priest is a 'job' for men with grit! The rue heroes in my book are not Arnie Schwartzneggar, Bruce Lee or any of the 'Die Hard' genre. For me, Real heroes are the Carthusian Fathers whom Henry V111 was so afraid of that he singled them out first, had them tortured and put to death in the most agonising way! And guess what? They went willingly with smiles on their faces to suffer with and die for Our Blessed Lord. Chokes me up just thinking about it.

Our Priests are our heroes. Jesus needs as many workers in his vineyard as possible. The harvest is rich - so GO! Give yourselves to the Lord - you will be rewarded in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

God Bless all in discernment of a vocation and all seminarians. WE NEED YOU!

TheSeeker said...

You are a good priest to stand by your parish in such times. Hold fast, for they need you. Our world becomes more secular and hostile every day :-(

Crux Fidelis said...

Further to my previous post about never having witnessed the kind of things Fr Ray described: At lunchtime Mass in St Aloysius the Jesuit church in Glasgow city centre I and another chap prevented a fellow leaving the church with a host in his hand. There's a cliché that there's a first time for everything but I hope and pray that this will be the last.

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.