Tuesday 3 March 2015

Our Lady's Arrangements

Ah-CHOO! All that activity yesterday seems to have made my cold worse. So I write from the most
comfortable guest bed, feeling rather disgruntled. Sick or not sick, I have to hang up the laundry, wash the dishes and finish the article. I'd much rather not be sick. I can't see how total bed rest would cure a cold anyway.  The next time I go to Toronto I'm taking echanicea and Berocca every day, plus vegetable elixirs from cool vegan cafes--for a week before I go to Canada, and for the entire time I am in Canada.

Anyway, today is Traddy Tuesday, the day in which I wax lyrical about my beloved Extraordinary Form of the Mass, i.e. the Traditional Latin Mass, on behalf of would-be converts who expected to find something similar at their local parish church because Flannery, Waugh, Chesterton.

Alas, my cold plus a bad night meant I was not able to go to the licit Edinburgh EF (i.e. the FSSP, not the SSPX) this Sunday, so I went to early afternoon Polish Mass at the Cathedral instead. I understood more of what the priest said than ever, and since I can't find what he's saying in my Polish missal, I suspect he may be adding his own special touches. However, I was still very glad to be there. Traditional Polish hymns are most orthodox and edifying, full of affection and gloom.

But I later heard an Awful Trad Mass Rumour, which is that we don't have anywhere to celebrate the Triduum, the parishioners whose church we borrow managing to schedule their own English-language Ordinary Form Triduum this year. Usually the parish priest goes to one of his other parish churches and celebrates Holy Thursday and Good Friday and Easter Vigil there, so I don't see why this year should be any different. There are more churches in Edinburgh than there are diocesan priests, so it doesn't seem fair to push out us poor churchless but perfectly legit Traddies. Weep, weep.

But instead of gnashing my teeth and beating the carpet with my fists, I was mildly amused, for I had recently heard a wonderful story about a Canadian  Una Voce group with a similar problem.

This group had looked in vain for a priest and a church to celebrate and host the 1962 Easter Triduum. They went to the Oratorians to see if they could convince them to replace their usual Novus Ordo Triduum. No, said the Oratorians. Then they went to some other parish. No, said the other parish. This was in a pretty Catholic place in Canada, so unlike Edinburgh there were not a lot of churches going empty on Easter. And most Catholics who did not abandon the Novus Ordo to stay at home or shop are used to the Novus Ordo, so getting an ordinary parish to switch for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil was, understandably, quite impossible.

So at last, having at least got a priest, the Una Voce group remembered a remote Carmelite convent. Apparently this was a totally awesome old-fashioned Carmelite convent in which all the nuns look either exactly like Saint Theresa the Little Flower or exactly like Saint Teresa of Avila.  Wimples, veils, holiness--the whole nine yards. So Una Voce asked Mother Superior if they could have their 1962 Easter Triduum in the convent church and, lo, Mother said yes.

It was a lovely Easter Triduum. It was in [Tumbleweed], Ontario, so I'm not sure how many ordinary Catholics turned up, but the nuns were all there behind their grille. Everyone was happy, and after Easter Mass when my informant was in the sacristy, a little window in the wall popped open and the wimpled face of Mother Superior, looking exactly like Saint Teresa, appeared. Mother told the men there was something they ought to know.

The sisters' usual priest was sick, and there had been no other priest around who had time to come to Tumbleweed and celebrate the Triduum for them, not even in English. So Mother Teresa had taken the Triduum missalette and slapped it down at the feet of a statue of Our Lady.

"We have no Triduum this year," she informed Our Lady. "What are you going to do about it?"

And then Una Voce had come knocking. 

Isn't that AWESOME? The nuns got a Triduum, Una Voce got a church at last, and Our Lady was behind it all.

Well, I hope this we-don't-have-the-Church-for-Triduum rumour is unfounded, but just in case it isn't, I will plunk my missal down under the icon of Our Lady in the dining-room and ask her to find us a church. Not being a Mother Superior, I will be a bit more polite.

Incidentally, B.A. says there were 65 people at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass on Sunday. If there were 65 people at the 9:30 AM Ordinary Form, I will eat my feathered hat. 


  1. What a delightful story! I will add my prayers to yours that your lovely EF crowd will have a lovely EF Triduum. As an RCIA catechist, I am bound to my home parish now for the Triduum for the foreseeable future, provided God continues to send us new converts, so not likely to see an EF Triduum any time soon myself, but maybe one day.

    P.S. Speaking of the Triduum and RCIA, can you please say a prayer for the several catechumens we have to whom we had to break that news that no, if you are not yet attending Mass on anywhere near a regular basis you are not yet ready for baptism this year? (As well as for the others whom we happily and confidently declared ready to enroll in the order of the Elect for baptism at Easter, of course.)

  2. Ummmm......WHY aren't the catechumens attending Mass? Are they just being baptized to get married to Catholics, or do they really love Our Lord but "Mass is boring"?

    I would want to know why. I am very sorry to say this--it is a terrible thing to say, and so I wouldn't say it if true--but I think many Catholics stop going to church because the liturgy is just too awful.

  3. Replies
    1. What I mean is, if Mass was more "spiritual" and "meditative", with mysterious, haunting music, a lot of silence and not much interaction between people during the sacred service, so that they could be alone (yet together) with God, in really beautiful and mysterious but meaningful surroundings, then more people would want to go. Honestly, if the walls and windows were beautiful, and the music was beautiful, and the rituals were ritualistic and hypnotic, then we would have something to give people as a portal to heaven. The whole thing would be an initially strange but always holy experience, drawing them in with wonder. Real wonder. The five-senses equivalent of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTGzZ7fOuA8

  4. We rather suspect it's so that their children can be baptized, so that their children can attend the local Catholic school, because the local (publically funded Canadian) Catholic school board requires a baptismal certificate or a letter from the parish that they are preparing for baptism for elementary school registration.

    And while we are willing to let someone become a catechumen on good faith if they are attending catechetical sessions and showing at least some genuine interest, we're not admitting anyone to actual sacraments until we have a reasonably well founded hope that they are planning to actually live as actual Catholics. Sigh. It's been a challenging group this year.

    (On the other hand, our "marrying a Catholic" case already did so, with the appropriate disparity of cult approval, and a few years and children later now is ready to enter the Church herself, God bless her.)

    I can agree that there are some awful liturgies out there, but our parish is pretty good. I dearly wish they would attend regularly, because our priests' solid preaching would do them a world more good than us trying to catechize the at best semi-evangelized.

  5. That does sound tough. I am trying to get my mind around the idea of people who will convert to Catholicism just so their kids can go to free Catholic school in a country where there are free non-Catholic schools in the same neighbourhood. I guess it's no-risk behaviour now that Catholics aren't obviously despised and marginalized by their Protestant neighbours, and Catholics in high political office make it look like you can both be a Catholic AND work against its teachings on controversial issues. Well, I will pray.

    1. Believe me, I am every bit as baffled. Perhaps it is that they are immigrants and in their home countries the better schools were Catholic. Or perhaps it is just a few blocks closer to home, says my more cynical side. Even more baffling though are those with no apparent ulterior motive showing up of their own volition having never attended Mass before, which I have run into more than once. To me it seems like wanting to marry someone you have heard about and perhaps seen in passing but never actually met.

      But forgive me for dragging your comments box so badly off topic. Your prayers are appreciated.

    2. If Canada is anything like Australia (which I rather suspect it might be), non-Catholic parents want to send their children to Catholic schools as a sort of (usually) low-cost alternative to private schools. They don't want to send their chilldren to the local government schools, as those can be patchy when it comes to the quality of discipline and academic results.


    3. Julia,

      The difference is that in Canada, unless it is a private Catholic school, the Catholic schools ARE local government schools. Taxpayer funded, with elected school boards - in municipal elections when you register to vote you specify public or Catholic (usually, though some electoral districts have other school board subdivisions such as French and English as well). You are then given the ballot with the appropriate set of candidates for the board you support. The only difference these days is that a Catholic school has religion as one of its classes, and sacramental prep (first communion/confirmation) is often done through the school system, though not always.

      It's a veneer of Catholicism tacked on to the same public school system you'd otherwise have, and these days the veneer is often very thin indeed. So whether they are better or worse than the local public school really depends on the specific schools in question. It's a rather weird system that came about due to complicated late 19th century history, and personally I think it has outlived its purpose.

  6. I believe I know which convent you are writing about (although I'd be entirely delighted if this was a different Carmel - although entirely unlikely). I'm not sure why the Oratorians do not celebrate both. My former parish was a FSSP shared with the diocesan parishoners and we got the whole Triduum liturgy, typically scheduled three hours after the beginning of theirs. Since OF liturgies tend to be shorter anyways, it always worked out. Attending Vigil at 11:30pm and well into the early morning is an absolute delight, and I'll be quite dismayed if I miss out on it this year.

  7. I believe I know which convent you are writing about (although I'd be entirely delighted if this was a different Carmel - although entirely unlikely). I'm not sure why the Oratorians do not celebrate both. My former parish was a FSSP shared with the diocesan parishoners and we got the whole Triduum liturgy, typically scheduled three hours after the beginning of theirs. Since OF liturgies tend to be shorter anyways, it always worked out. Attending Vigil at 11:30pm and well into the early morning is an absolute delight, and I'll be quite dismayed if I miss out on it this year.

  8. It will be once again at Carmel!

  9. That's what I hoped - and sorry for the double post, don't know how it happened.


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