Saturday, 20 February 2010


I am told that the French-speakers of Belgium are more French than the French, yet at the same time they maintain a certain de-haut-en-bas contempt for their co-linguists south of the border. The French are rather puzzled about this, but simply give a Gallic shrug and mutter about l’ennui du Nord.

I have detected a similar attitude between Roman and Anglo-Catholics, which has at turns amused and irritated me. When I celebrated those Sarum Masses (links to which you can find on the left) fifteen years or so ago, for two humiliating years running I was given a peculiar alb that was the right length in front (so I saw nothing wrong), but absurdly short at the back; the hem (and apparel) did not even descend below the chasuble end. A snort from some Anglo-Catholic congregants was reported to me: ‘typical Romans; can’t get anything right!’ This in the face of what was, actually, (forgive the immodesty) a very well organized and beautiful celebration. Again, there was simply the desire to cut us down to size, to put the Italian mission in her place, among the immigrants, peasants and fools.

Of course, this is perfectly understandable from many points of view. But many of my co-religionists fear that this de-haut-en-bas attitude is actually what some Anglo-Catholics mean by ‘patrimony’. A sort of religious apartheid. I think that for many, this fear is greater than the fear that the hand of the conservative/traditional wing of the Church be strengthened.

Looking around the various Anglo-Catholic blogs and websites, few of the bloggers show much sign of this attitude, but there are flashes of it, and they annoy me considerably, mostly because they sow discord just when we need to be building bridges. Comments I have read and disliked range from the ‘went to a Roman Mass last week; gosh it was awful; just what I expected’ to ‘Very much looking forward to being in communion with a gentleman like Pope Benedict, but gosh, I’m not looking forward to the job of educating the paddies in what Catholicism is really about’.

I restate; most writers do not take this attitude, some are commendably, touchingly, humble and grateful. But future Ordinariates are not going to exist in isolation: for a long time now, Anglo-Catholicism has been ploughing a very lone furrow. Well, now you’re going to have a loving family around you and a new home: this isn’t the time to be criticizing the soft furnishings; it’s a time for making friends.

To return to the analogy; yes, the Flemish-speakers may have decided to dispense with the Walloons, but France has offered a new semi-autonomous province. Let’s all be kind; on the one side, welcoming and generous; on the other, not looking gift-horses in the mouth.

I’m planning to explore this a bit in some future posts, with particular reference to liturgical style; this post is just coughing the bile out of my chest so that I can be more objective here on in.


berenike said...

Yes, I've seen that in several places, and you've described it much better than I would have done.

Fr William R. Young said...

Snobbery is a part of life. I think it is a dimension of many divisions. It can come in many forms. De haut en bas is only one. It can be inverted and by proxy. A lot of comic writers would be out of a job if it ever vanished from the human condition. Perhaps it begins as a loyal defence of our personal or group self respect. I suppose that laughing about it is a help. But we need to learn to laugh together. I hope that there will be a laughing-room in purgatory. We won't need to laugh in heaven, will we?

Anonymous said...

Not bilious at all ... In fact, perceptive, incisive, well-stated and positive.

Thank you. I wish I could write prose like that.

Unknown said...

A very incisive post, Father. I am very excited about AC but I am getting a bit worried. While I am happy and waiting for our Anglican brothers and sisters to join us, I wonder about the attitudes that they will bring.

I read regularly the Anglo-Catholic blog, as it's rather good with news etc. and the viewpoints presented. However, it can get rather tiring as a number of the contributors, in fact almost all, seem to have a holier than thou attitude. A lot of times you read about how they are dismayed at the lack of reverence they find in Catholic churches, the dumbed-down masses of the NO that doesn't come up to their 'level' of worship. It would appear that everything is perfect in their world, and the patrimony they're bringing is to teach us Catholics how to be proper Catholics.

One is almost led to believe that EVERY Anglo-Catholic worships reverently, sins not and is perfect as God intended. That those Anglicans who don't follow their lead are clueless and gutless and those English Catholic bishops who don't make public announcements of welcome right now are scheming to shut them out at all costs. Of course there will be teething problems and some obstacles along the way. Life is a test of faith and trust in God. Rather than worrying about machinations against them, pray and put their trust in the Lord to smooth things for them.

They have many gifts to bring to share with us, I'm very sure, but perhaps a little humility learnt in return would go a long way, too.

gemoftheocean said...

What idiot(s) would let you walk out in an alb like that? [I know it wasn't your main point, but -- that's inexcusable!] Whomever assisted you to vest *should* have said something like "Fr. Dude, do you have any idea this alb is a yard short in the back, are you SURE you want to wear this 'thing' or shall we rustle up something more appropriate?"

[Never, EVER, EVER let the celebrant look bad...EVER.]

And to your main point..yes, charity should be the order of the day all around. [Now if you can just say a few extra prayers so I can manage to refrain from kicking some people enamoured of TLM from spreading heresy that the NO is an inherently 'invalid Mass' I'd appreciate it.]

Bishop of Ebbsfleet said...

May I offer apologies for our rudeness? I always refer to my fellow Anglo-catholics as fishknife catholics: everything we do (we think) is so 'correct' that it is not authentic.... (Who bothers with fishknives and forks in the real world?) My favourite contrast is between (Roman) Catholics who miss out anything that they don't have to do and Anglo-catholics who put into the liturgy anything they can possibly get away with.

+ Andrew

Pastor in Monte said...

Thank you for your most kind comment; our prayers will be with you all particularly on Monday which, by coincidence is the Patronal feast of our church here in Shoreham.

pelerin said...

Father, you mention that Monday sees the patronal feast of your Church. Will you be celebrating Mass in the evening?

Pastor in Monte said...

Yes; at 7.30, but it won't be anything special; OF, in English with some hymns, and such ceremonies as we can manage depending on how many servers turn up (it being a homework night). Perhaps the 'patrimony' people have a point after all......;-)

The Anglo-Catholic said...

I would like to second the Bishop of Ebbsfleet's apology for any rudeness on the part of Anglo-Catholics -- especially at The Anglo-Catholic blog.

I do hope that Terry is correct and that all we will face are "teething problems and some obstacles along the way," but (even recent) experience has shown that many modernist bishops (not only in the UK) want nothing at all to do with us. To the degree that our tribalism and insensitive enthusiasm have perhaps caused us to be unwelcome, we should repent and amend our ways.

I, for one, will relay these sentiments to all of the contributors of The Anglo-Catholic. Please be patient with us: we are learning as best we can.