Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Downside Review (last installment)
Most of all I enjoyed was the sense of fraternity amongst the priests, the solidarity, the sharing of our love for our holy Mother the Church and her liturgy. It can be a little lonely out there as a priest with a strong regard for the Church’s Tradition.
The accommodation was designed for adolescent girls rather than priests. We had the recently built girl's block. My time for using semi-communal showers has long since past. The bed was so narrow I fell out of it couple of times – a bit disconcerting in the middle of the night. I am not quite sure how those amongst us who had to visit the lavatory frequently through out the night managed.
It was amusing to speak to priests who never celebrated the Ordinary Form and laymen who never attend it, they seemed to think that in the “NO Church” we all had girl servers, always had tambourines at Mass, often had puppets or dressed up as clowns, never used the Roman Canon or chant or polyphony or had any experience of hearing confessions.
One of things that was lacking was any formal opportunity to share our experiences of promoting the Extraordinary Form of the Liturgy and of using it to enhance the Ordinary Form, “mutual enriching” as the Pope calls it.
What was really good was to have Bishop Athanasius Schneider with us, it was a bit sad that we priests didn’t have much of an opportunity to actually spend time with him and I am afraid I had great difficulty hearing him. At the lecture he gave, he spoke very quietly and read from a prepared text, which wasn’t too easy to follow, there was no amplification, one priest said he thought what he had to say was “magnificent” but many of us just didn’t hear, a great shame as he had come from Kazakhstan to speak to us. He became more audible when he left his prepared text and spoke off the cuff. I had only half realised that the Holy Father started to give Holy Communion only in the Traditional manner after he read Bishop Schneider’s book Dominus Est.
He had two stories interesting stories from Pope John XXIII’s secretary, Archbishop Loris Capovilla who is still alive, apparently once the Archbishop, to spare the aging Pope during a private Mass in Holy Week, shortened the Gospel text the Pope was reading. At breakfast afterwards the Pope asked what authority he had for doing so, and being told no decree of the Church had authorised his action John XXII told him never, ever to do it again. The other story was that the Pope had sent him off to the barbers because his tonsure had become indistinct, so much for Pope John’s apparent Liberalism.
What impressed me most about Bishop Schneider was that although he didn’t have much contact with us he spent an awful amount of time before the Blessed Sacrament in the Church, almost leaning over the bench he knelt at as if to get closer to the Lord. He was there just after six when I arrived to prepare for my Mass and he was there afterwards and when I went off to sing Lauds and still there when I returned. Whatever he said was about the reality of God in his Church but it was his demeanour which was one of prayer and of quiet episcopal humility that is well aware of human failings and yet fully aware that he is the successor of the Apostles. It was a great privilege to have been there with him and to have seen him at prayer.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake