I have been reading Evelyn Waugh's Edmund Campion: Jesuit and Martyr every morning for the past two weeks or so, just a few pages every morning between morning prayer and Polish study. I highly recommend it, and it was a great comfort to me when the rumours of a planned visitation of the Ecclesia Dei communities were published. As many traditionalists ascertained during the pandemic, Tradition is not so easily suppressed. As the great saint wrote:
There will never want in England men that will have care of their own salvation, nor such as shall advance other men's, neither shall this Church here fall so long as priests and pastors shall be found for their sheep, rage man or devil never so much.
On Sunday I was at my usual place at the after-Mass tea table, and thanks to loyal volunteers, the hour of merriment went very well. There were tables of university students and tables of parents young and not so young. There were married couples without children, happily chatting to those with. There was an organiser of pilgrimages selling Christmas cards to finance future pilgrimages. There were two lovely girls, chatting over tea, who eventually did the washing up. There were swarms of little boys rushing indoors to the cookie plate and then out-of-doors again. There was a more stolid little girl. There was an infant girl dressed as a pink bear.
And as my heart rejoiced in all this traddie humanity, my brain reeled at the idea that a Holy Father, a sovereign pontiff, wanted this company to disperse and never come together again to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass of their ancestors, or their ancestors in faith. How utterly and absolutely bizarre.
However, we recusants have seen this all before, if from quite a different source, so we know what to do We even know that suppression has its spiritual fruit. As Waugh wrote of Campion's time:
The listless, yawning days were over, the half-hour's duty perfunctorily accorded on days of obligation. Catholics no longer chose their chaplain for his speed in staying Mass, or kept Boccaccio bound in the covers of their missals. Driven back to the life of the catacombs, the Church was recovering their temper.
On a somewhat related note, I seem to have lost my makeup bag. I regret the bag itself more than the things inside, for it was made by the now-retired wife of a Polish veteran of the last battle of Monte Cassino. They had a leather goods shop in Edinburgh for 50 years.
For some reason, it has become the habit of many Christian women of all kinds of denominations (although not the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland) to wear lipstick, or an entirely made-up face, to church. I suppose the idea is to look one's best out of respect for the Lord and the congregation, but no doubt Padre Pio had something devastating to say about it.
When I was a teenager, my mother tartly informed me that I didn't need to wear make-up as I already had the complexion women wore make-up to obtain. Now that I am older now then she was then, I see what she was on about. I cannot see how make-up could improve any of the beautiful young girls who turn up at the TLM. However, I have a very glamorous friend in middle-life, a wife and a mother of two, who is a dab hand with eyeshadow and therefore looks terrific.
I feel set with a terrible choice, worse than the conundrum of the choice, when 40, of looking either like a Hockey Mom or a Cougar. Either I can slide into a noble, unvarnished old age, looking like Mother Teresa, or I can join the mainstream fight to resemble an octogenarian retired film star instead. But naturally there must be a third way--as long as whatever it is doesn't frighten children.
Meanwhile, there are the plastic containers to consider. If womankind gave up, en masse, buying and wearing cosmetics, we would save
Pachamama the world from thousands of tons of landfill every year. We might also save a goodly sum of cash.
This reminds me of Christmas and how I hope to write another blogpost for work exhorting the social conservatives of the world not to spend too much this year. So far I have argued against Black Friday shopping and against obsessing over "the perfect present." Now I would like to extoll them not to go into debt. At first I thought it might be too late, but then I read that most gifts are bought in the last week of Advent.
Therefore, on Friday I will inform my readership that the average British family spends over £700 on Christmas and the average American spends $997 on Christmas. A third of Britons go into debt to buy Christmas presents--I hope this largely means that they buy them with a credit card, but unfortunately 1 in 20 of them skip paying one of their December bills. They thus run up interest. I am certain that He who took a whip to the moneychangers in the Temple does not want the moneychangers making so much money off the celebration of His birth.
Now, I am more than aware that I do not have children and therefore do not know firsthand what pressure parents are under to supply a sufficiently merry Merry Christmas (a point I will make in my piece). However, I have had a Christmas gift list of around 10 people for most of my life (and have a bigger one now) and now do some Christmas cooking and baking myself. I am also reading A Christmas Carol with one of my pupils, and the Cratchit family was able to make merry without recourse to a borrowed £700.
Obviously I will want to be sensitive about this--for (A) richer readers may object that it is the greatest delight of their lives to shower material goods and food upon their progeny at Christmas and (B) lovely packages are arriving here from Canada--but, seriously, the Scourging of the Temple does come to mind. Also Good King Wenceslaus, but that's anther blogpost.