Thursday 15 October 2009

St T of L at Westminster II

Being the saddo that I am, I check sitemeter now and then and see that I have a link from The Catholic Herald to the previous shockingly trivial, vague and generally vacuous post.

So I though that I'd better try and be a little more cogent, even in my enfeebled state.

Here goes. Over the past three days I have got up earlier and gone to Westminster Cathedral and thence to work. Why? Well lots of reasons. The er obvious one, St Therese of Lisieux of course, on whom I am by no means an expert, but she is a Saint and Doctor of the Church and that is enough for me. And for the reason lots of people love her that is that she didn't do anything externally very amazing in her short life, though joining the Carmelites at such a young age impresses me no end, but she lived a hidden life that was extraordinary. My reading extends little beyond the CTS Pamphlet, but that says all you need to know.

Another reason is that I like good old fashioned piety. I like Cathedrals full of people praying their own prayers and doing their own thing. I like lots of people lighting candles. I like the Altar covered in roses. I like the fact that woman and men who are written off by the world are held up as examples by the Church. I like the fact that we can all have our private intentions which we may never share with another soul, but yet all be united together in the Church. I like the family in front of me at Mass with their children in pyjamas. I like the slightly wacky lady next to me (who was probably thinking, 'I like that slightly wacky lady next to me.'). I like the Irish Nuns behind me, the people in posh suits and everyone else. There were oo lots of people at the 7am Mass this am. I don't know how many people half the nave holds, but it was pretty full. I want to be with other people who hold the same beliefs as me and are trying to live according to the same way of life. I don't care where they come from, what they look like or anything else about them as long as we share that.

I don't want to 'share' my intentions out loud with other people! Mind your own business! I hate meetings. I hate Committees. I don't want to discuss the teachings of the Church. I can listen to my PP or read the Catechism thanks. I don't want to change the Church. I want the Church to change me. I go to Church to say my prayers. I go to meetings at work.

So, emboldened by my visit to St T of L, I put my votive candle on the counter at Pret a Manger (impressive witness eh?) as I paid for today's brekkie and had a chat with the lady serving about when the relics were going and how big the queue was. I hope she got there later in a break. How often is visiting a Cathedral to venerate the relics of a Saint a perfectly normal piece of conversation when you pay for something in a shop in England?

If anyone reads this who has any power to do anything, please stop wasting time discussing stuff in meetings and just lay on lots of Masses and devotions. Don't ask people to 'share' anything. Don't have any liturgical chit chat, banal music, or novelty of any sort. Give us the real deal.

As Fr Z says - Say the Black and do the Red, then we can all get on with our prayers.
In fact just dust down your 1962 Missal and do what it says in there.

Then there might be more need to have 100 000 votive candles to hand in our Cathedrals and Churches.

PS Thank you to the organisers of the Tour and all the people who worked in whatever way.

I'm looking forward to a lie in tomorrow - get up at 6 - but it's been a very good week.


Clare said...

What a fantastic piece. If the Catholic Herald are reading this then publish it now (giving Leutgeb a sizeable sum of dosh of course.)

"I don't want to change the Church. I want the Church to change me."


leutgeb said...


berenike said...

"I don't want to change the Church. I want the Church to change me"

Me too :-)

[though while I am probably far more hardcore than you on the liturgy front :-), I am also a great believer in small groups, bible studies, praise sessions, whatever - AS WELL :-) They're just modern popular devotions. I used to toddle along occasionally when I lived near a chapel with monthly praise evenings. But I could never get myself to wave my arms in the air :-)

On the traditional devotions front I'm just back from October devotions in my parish - rosary every day at 5:30, before the Blessed Sacrament. When in the past I've had really terrible times, when I couldn't sleep for crying and couldn't do anything during the day for distraction and general down-ness and could hardly pray and couldn't bring myself to meet any friends, avoided family ... I used to go to the May evening devotions in my then parish, (sung Litany of Loreto), and cry with relief - I didn't have to try, I was carried along. I imagine it's like one of those physical conditions where moving is usually horrible difficult, painful or impossible, except in water.

FWIW. :-)

leutgeb said...

If we knew each other in real life, Berenike, we could have a 'how hardcore are you on the liturgy?' competition. You might be surprised and so might I. ;-)

Let people sing modern Christian music, for sure, and let them do it outside the Mass please. Small groups I would run a mile (maybe more) if anyone suggested I share anything in a group, but some people really like that sort of thing and no-one says we all have to be the same. Bible study smacks of evangelical Protestantism to me. It just does not interest me at all. I'd far rather be part of a group, large or small at a Mass or whatever and then repair to a bar for a drink and a chat.

People often do say things just as you leave a Church. I can't be the only person this happens to. Hand barely dry from the Holy water stoop and someone tells you something quite particular about their dead spouse or lapsed child or whatever. But I'm not seeking this out. People have the right to remain silent!

As to being distraught. Life is very good in so very many ways for me just now, but I do have extensive experience of forcing myself to work and fleeing the company of people (hard when you are a teacher) , so I am certainly with you on rocking up to Mass in a state and just being there.

berenike said...


(I was in a state that I only went to weekday Mass by force of reason and bloodymindedness. zero recollection or praying ability or any such. an endurance test. But the litany for some reason was, as I said, like being a fish put into water or something.)

We could always stage the match - return flights doncaster-warsaw for GBP 49.98 all included ... :-D

I must go and write an shocked post about bible study for your benefit :-)

leutgeb said...

I really really do not want or need bible study (prepares to eat own words.)

It reminds me of the aply named DICCU = Durham Inter-collegiate Christian Union, which I knew instinctively aged 18, was not for me.

People interpreting the Bible for themselves is dangerous and I don't want to listen to a bunch of heretics! Look at the Reformation!

Bible study or Rosary and Benediction? Such a toughie, but the latter only and every time! No contest. :-)

Mulier Fortis said...

Hey - Berenike & Leutgeb... I have an idea:

How about a Traddy "Bible Study with hymns" group...

(it's otherwise known as Solemn High Vespers)

Heheheheheheh... gotcha!

leutgeb said...

Er, well the key differences

Chanted in Latin
No discussion.

Sounds Catholic to me.

Vespers and Benediction, even better.