Sunday, 27 November 2011

Bearing up

Hello there,

Whilst Rita's taken her bat home, I bethought myself it may be a good idea to keep her blog alive with some occasional ramblings from the sofa bed.

I'm Ollie. I share the sofa bed in the study with a venerable and camera shy bear of some 40+ years from Wigan (Rita's favourite, they've been through thin and thin together). I myself was rescued from the cake counter of a cafe on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border some 10 years ago. Now we all live in deepest, dankest Wessex in the most astonishing wilderness. It has its advantages, this is AGA country and the good ladies around here make damn fine cakes. Rita doesn't share my passion for cakes, but then again she doesn't really know what I get up to whilst she's away.

The only musing I have for today is: what has happened to all the cabbages, there are none in the shops? Have the Chinese commandeered the whole UK crop or something? Not that I can find a decent cake recipe with cabbage in it, but it is the vegetable of choice chez Rita. The old girl is in need of comfort food, for her this is glutenous rice and cabbage. We like to keep her on her feet, earning money and keeping us in the manner to which we've become accustomed, but she's flagging a bit and I think some cabbage would help.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Muniment and Malachi

Last Sunday's reading from the Prophet Malachi always leave priests feeling a little uncomfortable. The Book of Malachi is only short and deserves to be read in its entirety. We should read it and all feel a little uncomfortable, not just priests.

It is hard not to see this book in a contemporary light, it smacks right to the heart of the Church on earth. We should not be surprised by this, good prophecy is timeless because it reveals timeless truth. The sad thing is that there is still the need for such a stern prophecy, priests and people are still doing the same old, same old; picking and choosing what to believe in, being unfaithful and not fearing God.

The frustration of some with the Catholic hierarchy in the UK is due in no small measure to the belief that they "have caused many to stumble by their teaching"(Mal 2:8). It is a frustration that the Body has been weakened and that those in a position to strengthen the Body seem for the most part incapable of (a) obedience (b) seeing the problem, (c) having the guts to do what they were ordained to do. If it is a frustration born of love and powerlessness, both things are inherently good. Indeed if that frustration boils into anger, provided it is channeled correctly, then it can be for the good. Though at all times remembering the legal maxim those who come into equity must come with clean hands because it is always dangerous to say "we have a better claim to be the Church more than those others who claim to be the Church".

I put forward the proposition that some priests/bishops and people have always been like they are portrayed in the Book of Malachi, this is not some arrogant judgment on my part but a statement of fact. We are dealing here with types, not specific people. Many are causing others to stumble; pray that we are not a cause of stumbling or stumblers who have been led astray. Yet somehow the rickety ship keeps afloat, God is in control. The unknown faithful by their service to God in prayers, good works and adoration, in no small measure make sure of that.

When we know we are right about something, and someone else is in the wrong, we should never draw attention to ourselves, only to the source of our righteousness, and carry the ruptures the wrong has caused as a penance. I was told this by my confessor yesterday.

Let us not weary the Lord with our words (Mal 2:17).
I'm going to stop serious blogging for a bit too.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Devil opines.....

I've been following these last few posts with interest. I like nothing better than watching strife and tetchyness between Catholics who should be on the same side...being the original lazy arsed sloth, and by far the most accomplished one at that, it is my great pleasure to do nothing and watch my work being done for me. Well, it was originally my work that meant that people lost the ability to comprehend each other, so I have to take some credit for it. A little pat on the back for yours truly, I have this amazing ability to do my own work even without doing it. I'm just so fantastic, don't you think.

I'll tell you what I hate though. What I hate most about mortal man is priests. They should be all mine but they are not. They are a bunch of weak, pathetic, insecure, vulnerable men and I love to torment them, but so few of them fall, it makes me quite mad. Mind you, I'm not always lazy, what makes me really livid and really fires me up is a very holy priest and for him I'll even venture onto the sanctuary (do you know how foul that place is, the stench nearly does for me). I can give him sudden violent pain, I can make the text in the Missal wobble comically before his eyes, I can suggest highly inappropriate thoughts and images, and I can induce blackness, emptyness and unbelief. I do most of my damage to him in the presbytery but a little nudge in the sanctuary really brings him down. A moments distraction in his prayer and whap, in I go.

I also hate children, I mean really hate them. Why do people still bother having them? What are they for? Still, they sometimes unwittingly add to my mirth, sweet little dears. I'll give you an example. There is a priest I know, who is pretty low. He feels let down by his bishop, he feels totally over worked, and he is very lonely. When I've worked him up to a high level of self pity he really is a complete wretch and then I drop the killer suggestion to him your parish don't even respect you, it doesn't matter how often you ask for fractious children to be taken out at Mass, they never are, they're ruining it for you aren't they, nothing is beautiful anymore, nothing feels sacred, there are no spiritual consolations, everything is drudgery, oh and you are sooo lonely, why not give it all up, eh? The man is a living wreck AND he's losing his faith. SCORE!!! Well not quite. He doggedly clings to his priesthood, but I'm working on that. Every time a child misbehaves during Mass, I'm just stand at the back laughing at this priest and say nothing to do with me mate, you're feeling sooo bad and soooo unloved and it soooo has nothing to do with me. Haa Haa!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Appropriate response

Dear Anonymous has replied most graciously to my last post on the behaviour of children at Mass. Most of the text is shown below, but I have added my own comments in bold.

1. Parenting is really, very hard work, a type of difficulty against which all others pale to nothing, which cannot be known properly by those who do not have children. This is not the kind of 'hard' one ever stops to consider because, when one is presented with the one's first baby, you just get on with it. By the time you have three in (nearly) four years, the work is near constant, as are the anxieties (too numerous to count, but try 'How do I form my children in a robust Faith?'), the contingent work (wage-earning), organisation, housing (especially if you do not own a place), and of course education, to important to be entrusted to normal schools. And so on, and so on. In short, when some parents seem to let their children run riot it is because they are so tired they do not know what to do, are too overburdened to think a behavioural situation through.
Yes, but would they let this happen in a restaurant or at a concert. No, they wouldn't take the children, they would find a baby sitter or go without such luxuries. Now is Mass a luxury, of course not. However, one reason why parenting is so difficult these days is the lack of an extended family, people to leave children with whilst you go to Mass with your husband. The primary aim of marriage is offspring, the secondary is the sanctification of your partner, spiritual time together is very important.

2. The children who are misbehaved may well be unwell, have ADHD or somesuch (be it nature or nurture induced). Again, although I have no direct experience of this, and one tends to think 'Bloody give them a clip round the ear', this doesn't actually work with mentally disabled children.
Unwell is fine at Mass, unwell and unruly needs thinking through, if it is going to distract the priest, then it is not good, they can be under enough assaults from the devil during Mass as it is. Children are rarely living saints, they can vehicles for ill (because of their self-centredness), even without sinning. Pray to their guardian angels.

3. The Mass may be the only time in a week a parent can get to be with the Lord in the Eucharist. Should they give this up so you can have some quiet?
No, that is a silly argument. The answer remains the same as the one to point 1.

4. Your concentration is not relevant to the reality of the Mass; God happens, so you have to be there. This is a reality of great importance to parents. In the nearly five years since I had parenthood sprung on me, I have actually felt like I prayed at most a dozen times at Sunday Mass. My children are immaculately behaved, (for children - see below) but this takes continuous low-level concentration on my part. I can never loose myself in praise.
Yes, the action of the Mass takes place irrespective of the worthyness of the priest or the concentration of the congregation. But, there is a danger here of presumption, the presumption that reverence is not necessary (I'm not referring to your family here, only really bad behaviour). Reverence is vital, Calvary deserves reverence. Yes, it is MY problem BUT the assaults of the devil and the occasions for sinful thought when children are misbehaving are great.

5. Don't expect children to behave like adults. They are not adults and do not behave like it. Even mine, who are, as implied above, quiet and engaged, will find themselves amazingly excited by some seemingly pointless thing and fall over themselves to explain it/ fall about laughing/ squeal with excitement/ whisper at the consecration/ etc.
That is all good, there is no problem with this.

6. The Latin Mass in its current incarnation creates amongst the congregants an attitude of sighing intolerance, a real 'people set apart'. 'Did you not know, Latin Mass is for the truly devoted?' I have experienced this in about five different churches. Nobody likes the de-sacralised, jumble-sale shtick of the average NO Mass, but nobody wants us at the Latin one (except the Franciscans of the Immaculate in Stoke). So what do we parents do? Trudge along broken-hearted to an event we are confused (at best) about, passing on only frustration and disappointment as the fruits of a Catholic life to our children?
But you have just said that the Mass is the Mass. I must say, I regularly attend Latin Mass is two different diocese and there are far more children there than other Masses, they are behaving like children, not adults, but they are welcomed and there is no irreverent misbehaviour.

I could go on, but my point is simply this: If the Catholic Church is going to survive in this country, and outside of the major university cities this is actually not likely, we need children to get the Faith. There is no one blueprint for the Faith, but if the children aren't praying at home and building a relationship with the Blessed Trinity, the Mother of God, the angels and the saints, then no amount of Mass attendance will work. They will not get the Faith in school, even less of it in Catholic school (statistically true), and are normally raised in functionally Protestant households (85-odd percent of Catholics are contraceptive, contra God and his Church) Our best Catholics are so often converts or reverts who really discover Faith in adulthood. If they don't go to church and receive the full grace of God by baring witness to and eventually participating in the Mass, from where is it supposed to come? Turning up at Mass does not magically bestow grace on anyone.

Question: Sanctifying grace is a habitual gift...a supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God (CCC 2000), we know this grace by its fruits, are the fruits really there if chaos reigns supreme and a child who is old enough to know better, is bent on destruction and mischief?