Tuesday 28 December 2021

Christmas Joy and New Year's Gratitude

Merry Christmas! I have had a splendid four days writing barely a word. On Christmas Eve I cooked and baked from before dawn until well after dusk (see photos). 

On Christmas Day, I baked the Christmas Bun (see photo again). 

On Boxing Day, Benedict Ambrose and I were in the countryside and at Mass in Dundee. On St. John's Day, Benedict Ambrose and I went for a long country walk and then had a late lunch with his mother in Dundee. 

It was all splendid, and it was the least stressed I've been during Christmas for a very long time. This is very likely because I had all of Christmas Eve off work, so I wasn't working and cooking and baking and cleaning all at once. Also, I knew our boxes of Christmas presents for Canada were in Canada, and our small pile of gifts for the UK were either delivered or sitting waiting on my desk. It was all good. 

Meanwhile, I also knew that this was [very probably] our last Christmas at our church-home because the Traditional Latin Mass is indeed being moved across town after all, and I was at peace with that. I AM at peace with that. I don't like how it happened, but St. Thomas Aquinas points out that the Reason directs the Will to keep the Passions in check, and I'm choosing gratitude. After all, we still have our priest, and we still have the Traditional Latin Mass, and all we are doing is leaving a wooden building in a middle-class neighbourhood for an architectural jewel in a very wealthy neighbourhood.  

I know things are quite awful elsewhere (e.g. Chicago), but in this Archdiocese, we are going to be okay. We're even going to have disability access added to the Architectural Jewel for our people in wheelchairs. And there's an ordinary bus that will take the people (including children) who used to walk all the way from the railway station (whatever the weather) straight to our new-to-us-chapel. 

"As long as we can get all our people in, it will be marvellous," I said to someone at today's Holy Innocents Day Mass for pro-lifers in the archdiocese. 

There were at least nine people from the TLM community at today's special (Novus Ordo) Mass, including the two children, and Benedict Ambrose observed that we are all very "integrated."  But, indeed, there is usually much overlapping of groups in the St. Andrews & Edinburgh Archdiocese, just as there is a lot of overlapping of groups in Edinburgh itself. At today's Mass for pro-life activists, there were Edinburgh Uni students, Poles, TLMers, women religious, priests, laypeople who work closely on life issues with the archdiocese, and people I didn't recognise at all. Very normal, really. 

If there is a plan afoot to marginalise and isolate and finally crush Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass, not to mention the Traditional Latin Faith, it's not going to work here. It really won't. The TLM community will continue going to confession at the Cathedral (in Polish and/or English), will continue going to pro-life events, will continue helping at the sisters' soup kitchen, will continue going to Catholic Chaplaincy at Edinburgh University and/or to events organised by Catholic Chaplaincy at Edinburgh University. When we can't get to our usual TLM, we'll go to the NO. We aren't a mid-century sect. We are simply Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass.

Meanwhile, I'm very grateful for the years--the Summorum Pontificum years--we had at our old wooden church. I turned up on the scene (as longest-time readers will recall) in 2009, and I thought a new era of liturgical beauty had been born. The new-to-me Mass was so beautiful, and the Men's Schola sang such wonderful music, and the Master of the Men's Schola could make the crankiest, wheeziest pipe organ or harmonium sound great. Our priest gave (and gives) stirring homilies, too, and gave us many a catchphrase to use in later discussions (e.g. "even little baby ANIMALS!")

Our community was (and is) a mix of people from various countries, not to mention socio-economic backgrounds, and since I arrived 13 years ago, over a dozen of the children now at our parish were born. When first I came, there was one parent of still-small children, I think: his wife didn't come, but his little boys sometimes did. Well, now we rejoice in many young families, as well as the usual rush of university students, bachelors, middle-aged marrieds, old married couples, widows, widowers, white-haired maiden aunts. It is really wonderful, and I really enjoy gazing at everyone over my teapot at the After-Mass Tea.

After-Mass Tea reminds me of the time members of the Parish Council scheduled their meeting in our tea hour, and they seemed rather red-faced and flummoxed when they came into the hall to find us all still there, happily chatting away. After attempting to address us in polite terms, the elderly woman among them just began to shriek hysterically, "JUST GET OUT! GET OUT!" 

We fled.

It was really something, and it reminds me that although I love that little wooden church---and helped clean it both during an annual clean and as COVID hygiene theatre---we were often made to feel like interlopers. Sadly, some people in the "regular parish" will be absolutely delighted that, after 15 years, we have been sent away. 

One last memory before I use up all the material I really want to use for a blog article for work: 

Feast of the Assumption, 2017.  Benedict Ambrose was sick. Very sick. I kept feeding him pudding, but he just kept losing weight. When eventually his weight fell below 100 lbs, I did everything I could to get him hospitalised. He had had 2 or 3 surgeries, and his medical team was sure there was nothing wrong with their work. However, he was always in pain, he had horrible nightmares, and his vision was going. He was barely able to walk, so I borrowed a wheelchair from the Red Cross. 

On the Feast of the Assumption, B.A. very much wanted to go to Mass--and I think we went to our priest's house first. Why I didn't call a cab is anyone's guess. Because what I did do was push B.A. to the railway station in the wheelchair, push him on a train, and then push him all the way to our priest's house, or to church. (If we did go to the priest's house, I assume he went by car the rest of the way.)

Every bump in the pavement hurt B.A., and he cried out almost every time. It was terrible for me, and worse for him. It cost us so much physically (him) and mentally (me) to get to that little wooden church (or at least as far as our priest's house) for the Feast of the Assumption Mass, according to the Old Rite, but we did it because it is a Holy Day of Obligation in Scotland and B.A. terribly wanted to go. 

When we got to the church, I parked B.A. in the wheelchair near the back of the church, but where he could see the altar. We didn't know it at the time, but we caused a bit of a stir. Later many people told us that they were shocked at how thin and sick B.A. looked. (Now B.A. says it's a good thing we turned up, for that probably meant everybody prayed for him at that Mass.) Meanwhile, B.A. and I spent Mass begging Our Lady and her Son for B.A. to get better, and two months later he did get better.  

Anyway, that's my story about what B.A. and I were willing to do to get to the TLM at that little wooden church. (Going to our local parish church seems not to have even occurred to us.) But naturally this was a rare occasion of extreme suffering. More often, before and since, we have been very happy, and even once when to a TLM wedding there. This wedding was quite an occasion, and the only time I have ever seem Muslims (including in hijab) in that little church, but that is a whole different blogpost. 

Meanwhile, the point to my story, really, is that B.A. wanted not to get to that little church, per se, but to get to the Traditional Latin Mass, and the little wooden church was just where it--and our priest--and our little TLM community--happened to be. 

The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. 

1 comment:

  1. Today I went to the SSPX Mass. Did I commit
    1) A risky act of rebelion and disobedience to the hierarchy that pushes the "vax" and has my family on masks in Mass?
    2) A grave sin of missing a valid Mass
    3) I am forgiven given my unsurmountable confusion in these times?