Well I managed to get to Christmas day Mass. I sorely miss my parish at Christmas, my parish priest may have his faults but in comparison to the priests up north he really is good, he preaches relatively well, he doesn’t go for outrageous liturgical abuse. In his absence I had to suffer a long non sermon on the song; the twelve days of Christmas, with two drunk Polish women behind me nattering throughout… Thankfully they moved to a side chapel after the intercessions, then left a second after consecration. Is it a good thing that they bothered to turn up at all?
Talking of liturgical abuse, no singing the twelve days of Christmas is not a substitute for saying the creed! Also a couple of things the altar servers forgot to do made me wish I was altar serving… having said that I did enjoy kneeling to receive communion. (Something my Parish priest forbids altar servers from doing for no reason).
Once I pass Newcastle on my way north I’m reminded of Game of Thrones. We are beyond the wall here, and liturgically we are in the dark ages. Still, better than the old git of an Irish priest we had to suffer a couple of years ago. He decided the Christmas sermon should be a rant aimed at everyone he hadn’t seen the rest of the year. Hello! a lot of people leave their parish on Christmas to visit their family! and even if there were parishioners returning to Mass heaping guilt on them on Christmas day is not the way to encourage them to attend weekly Mass! I obviously forgot the bit in the parable of the prodigal son where the father sits at home grumbling and has a go at the prodigal son when he turns up. Oh well, I wonder what Jesus would have said to the drunk Poles?
Anyway, it was a morning Mass and I’m always grumpy in the morning and I’ve only just woken up as I write this. But yes I think its becoming ever more readily apparent to me that unless the Catholic Church in England and Wales seriously gets its act together it will basically cease to exist. We are well below the critical mass needed to sustain congregations never mind form vocations to the priesthood.
Who would convert to go to the average parish when so many parishes fall short of the less than exacting standards the Church expects? If it weren’t for transubstantiation Catholicism would have crumbled long ago in this land. It reminds me of the story, it was either Napoleon or Hitler, who told one of his generals he was going to destroy the Church and his general replied, good luck you’ll need it to succeed where hundreds of years of clergy have failed…
Anyway yes thank God for Jesus, we need him more than ever. We need him to come into our hearts and minds so that we can turn this thing around. We need Jesus to pour out his loving grace on our withered and neglected souls to give us strength to do what seems impossible. It has to start with good Catholic families, big families who can afford to give sons to the priesthood. Families who will nourish the faith of their children in the midst of the spiritual desert that encroaches even on our parishes that should be our oasis. It seems to me that whilst Jesus is with us, in the Mass, and in the incredible gift of Christmas day, my heart is still left longing for him to act to save his Church in this barren land. Benedict the 16th’s motto is “pruned it grows again”. I just hope its not too late.
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!