Tuesday 22 February 2022

Hope and Spots

Yesterday it was announced that...the FSSP is going to be okay. At least, that is what I gleaned from Twitter. When I tried to click on the actual FSSP announcement, their website appeared to be down.

I then went to Facebook to say that the FSSP was going to be okay. In response, I was bitterly reproached by a leading Catholic activist in Australia, an ally, as it were, and a thoroughly good and useful chap. Thus, I do not really know what to make of yesterday's news. When it comes to the Traditional movement, I mostly think about the concrete individuals who make up the Traditional movement in Edinburgh and Dundee, and then occasionally farther afield, like Motherwell and Glasgow---and Rome--and wherever Dr. Peter Kwasniewski lives, for occasionally I am sent one of his excellent books to review. 

Not wanting to be overwhelmed by things I cannot control---and I write as someone who has watched her stable, peacefully dull native country descend into virtual civil war and psychological chaos--I focus on things I can control, like having enough biscuits for next Sunday's after-Mass tea. Happily I do have enough biscuits for next Sunday, and yesterday's news leads me to hope I will be putting biscuits out on the same table for the next month, perhaps for the next decade. 

(Incidentally, I need to put out fewer biscuits, or at least space them out better, as one of the treasures of the parish confessed to his mother on Septuagesima, I believe, that he had eaten too many biscuits and his stomach hurt.) 

Thus, in an awful month, I have some hope my local TLM community will be able to continue to worship together and then hang out together in the wheelchair accessible church and hall the FSSP rents. I hope that what we have so far lost will also be reinstated. I do not really dare hope for more; that last sentence makes me feel like I am living on the edge.

Speaking of living on the edge, I meant to do a lot of stuff yesterday, which was Family Day in Ontario, and thus a day off for me. Unfortunately, I had one too many requests to add to the stuff I have promised to do, and the result that I dissolved into a puddle and slid off to bed. There I read Kim, which I am discussing with one of my pupils. I also watched an episode of Framed: A Sicilian Murder Mystery with the subtitles off. And in between, mirabile dictu, I had a nap.

My new method of bribing myself with stickers to do everything I want to do is working very well. For some reason, I very much want to have my red, blue, green,  and orange dots (or at least most of them) as well as my anti-sugar gold star at the end of the day. The blue and orange dots are for temporary projects---they should be done by Easter, please God--and then I will not take on any other projects until September or something like that. The reason I find it so hard to get things done without sticker-bribes, I suspect, is because I have too much to do.  

Monday 14 February 2022

Valentine to the TLM community of my archdiocese

Once upon a time, it was said that you had made your Sunday obligation if you got to Mass before the priest uncovered the chalice and did not leave until he had covered it up again. And that is why, my fellow Edinburgh TLMers, it is when Father covers the chalice that I gather up my belongings and toddle out the more easterly door towards the church hall. Unless there's Adoration or the Blessing of Throats, I figure I have five, maybe ten minutes, to set the tea table before the first children come bursting in or the first adult appears looking for a cuppa. 

It takes concentration, and as soon as I take off my hat and coat, I'm in the Zone. 

Usually another lady appears, whom I welcome with shouts of joy and instructions like "More cups! Saucers! Milk jugs! We need spoons."

I seem to remember my predecessors leaving a tad earlier--right after Holy Communion, for example--but they were older than me and possibly slower-moving. In their day, I was a dashing, relatively young-ish married woman, who associated the pouring out of the tea and the drying of the cups with the over-70 set, the Old Guard who stayed faithful to the Traditional Latin Mass from the darkest days of the 1960s and 1970s. Miss Campbell, who studied Anglo-Saxon at the University of Glasgow even before Tolkien had written published The Monster and the Critics, brought a dish towel in her handbag and rose up once she had finished her tea and tired of chatter to help the other Old Guard ladies to dry the dishes. 

Miss Campbell has now joined the list of the parishioners I remember in my prayers at Mass, and today I (cough) feature as one of the older ladies of the community, in part because the average age of our members has plummeted in the past four years. Yes, we always attracted students, but now we have been sought out by a number of young parents, too. Loving what they find in the church, they often go into the hall afterwards, bringing their babies, toddlers and more active children. And loving children, they periodically appear with new ones bundled up in their arms. And one mother, seeing on a visit that--unlike her usual parish community--our community had children her sons' age, opted for the Traditional Latin Mass simply because of that. (In Canada, this a similar phenomenon was once known as La Revanche du Berceau.)

I am reminded, by the way, of the end of my Left-wing Period, a time when I used inclusive language at Mass and repeated made-up pronouns for God. I was at a meeting for women's ordination advocates (this was over 20 years ago and before I went to theology school), feeling rather shy and disturbed that the meeting had not begun with a prayer. Near the end of the meeting, one of the women said, with the enjoyment of the comfortable complainer, something like "Our children won't continue this fight. When they were babies, we'd have priests and nuns over all the time, and now they don't even go to Mass." 

At the time I was a mixed-up twenty-something (at whom our current twenty-somethings would raise an eyebrow and very likely not invite to their Sunday Lunches), but even I understood that that woman had read out her movement's death warrant. 

Of course, John Paul II was still alive, so I wasn't counting on the vampire-like return of certain discredited cardinals I could name and the rise of the crypto-progressives then hiding under cleverly donned coats of orthodoxy. But that said, that particular group was more interested in women's ordination than they were in the spiritual and social sustenance of women with more than one or two children. And frankly, mes amis, whoever has the most babies for the Berceaux wins. 

But to get back to my Valentine to the TLM community of my archdiocese, I  love it when the children flock to the biscuit plates, wheel away like seagulls, and then return when the biscuit plates are replenished. 

I very much enjoy asking "Coffee or tea?" of everyone in the jumbled queue, even as other people murmur such interesting information as "We had 100 today" in my ear or extol me to alert everyone to this prayer movement or that missive to Rome.

I cherish the view of the crowds beyond the tea table: the young parents talking to young parents, the students chatting with students, the middle-aged finding common cause, the occasional mixing and the periodic mingling. My predecessors, I am sure, did not have so impressive and varied a view.  

And Master of Divinity and author of two books, I exult in the fact that I have invented a new, more efficient, and definitely more hygienic way of washing the cups. 

Child of the 1970s, I even relish in the phrase "you young people" as in, "Would one of you young people hoover the carpet?" Being a child of the 1970s (and teenager of the 1980s), I was solidly formed in the ecclesiastical school of the Importance of the Young. The young confer demographic prestige, I know, and we have the young. Bless you, you young people.    

I realise suddenly that I have not really said much in this Valentine about the TLM itself. However, if you want to read about the liturgy, away with you to the New Liturgical Movement or One Peter Five to read the learned thoughts of Gregory Di Pippo or Dr. Peter Kwasniewski. There are any number of men (and presumably some women) who are experts on what happens between Noon and 1:20 PM in our (rented) little wooden church. My field is what happens immediately afterwards, and my interest is that anyone who enters the hall, on foot or in wheelchair, feels safe and welcome and has enough milk and biscuits to go with his or her tea or coffee. 

It's not as high status as being an Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Marquette, but it's what I was clearly called to do, and so, for me, it is better. I pray you all hear your own calling sooner rather than later, and that you all have a happy Valentine's Day with people you love!

Update: Let it be known that the tea ladies of the earlier Mass left us their leftover biscuits, banana bread and squash, which was thoughtful of them. 

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Dorothonomics: January confession

I love New Year's Resolutions and make some every year. Normally I forget them, but I have been so impressed by the power of writing down what Benedict Ambrose and I spend and save that I have been writing down the results of my Resolutions, too. 

One of my Resolutions is to go to the gym 20 times a month, and I have done that for January. Yay me!

The second Resolution is to invest a Certain Sum by January 2023. I have invested January's portion, so yay me again!

The third Resolution is to write a letter to a young relation every month. I have written my January letter. Gold star! (More on gold stars later.)

Then we come to languages and no gold stars, for I have definitely not done the following:

4. Read a page of Polish every day.
5. Read a page of Italian every day. 

Can it be that one can keep only three New Year's Resolutions at a time? Why was I able to propel myself out the door to the gym 20 times, and to save a Certain Sum out of our slim purse, and to think of things to say to Generation Alpha, but not to read my daily pagina of italiano or even my daily strona of polskiego?

It is mysterious. 

Possibly the difficulty is one of reward. As I recently wrote to Generation Alpha, human beings like rewards. Recently I have been awarding myself a gold star for every day I go without eating something sugary. Truly--I have a sheet of gold star stickers, and every evening of every day I do not eat a biscuit or pudding or absentmindedly sprinkle brown sugar on my porridge, I stick a sticker in my diary. You might think, "But it's just a sticker." However, even just the thought of that sticker chases temptation away. 

I have another set of stickers for my household accounts book, and whenever we are in the black, I put a sticker reading "WOW!" or "GREAT WORK!" beside the ultimate sum.  

Some of the stickers in that set say "GOOD GIRL" which seems inappropriate for a household of two, so I stuck one on Page 20 of my pocket gym diary. 

I did not give myself a gold star or sticky pat-on-the-back just for writing to Generation Alpha; instead I ordered some glorious personalised writing paper from Papier (and if you are in Britain and a stationary fan, too, use this link and save both you (?) and me (!) some stationary money.)

When I think about it, I have mentally assigned myself large rewards for my larger projects, too. For example, if I go to the gym 230 times this year and stay off the sugar, I'll buy myself an exciting new coat this Christmas. And if I make it to retirement without dying, I'll enrol in an intensive Polish course in Poland. 

Therefore, maybe if I buy myself some green stars for Italian and red ... hmm, maybe not red stars ... for Polish, I'll do a better job of sticking (seewhatIdidthere?) to those resolutions. 

Any other ideas? 

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Home Economics: January Report

February at last, and I enjoyed myself this morning tallying up the month's earnings and expenses. It was enjoyable because we saved a sum towards retirement/mortgage overpayment/holidays instead of going in the red. And whereas we went over my (optimistic) budget, it was only by £140.37.

Some of that over-spending was on food, as we will see. For January I budgeted £300 for groceries, for that is how we roll, and £250 for eating out, £175 of that earmarked for my super-fantabulous Michelin-starred birthday lunch. In reality, we spent 

Groceries: £313.05; RBCT (Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Takeaway): £267.00. Total: £580.05. 

To compare this with last month:

December 2021: Groceries: £319.10; RBCT: £214.80. Total: £533.90

I'm a bit impressed, especially as $5 of January 30's grocery bill went towards yellow roses for Benedict Ambrose, who had fallen down some stairs. Because of that it seemed mean to fuss about coupons and kindly to get roses and Sunday supper from Waitrose as a treat. 

I don't mind paying for delicious food, as long as it is intentional and not just mindless profligacy. We were not even out of 'The Kitchin' before I began to look at the reservations available at 'Martin Wishart'. However, B.A. vetoed another Michelin meal so soon, so I will hold off until our wedding anniversary. 

Meanwhile, as at least half the reason to spend money on eating out is for the memories, here is what we did with our £264: Sunday coffee and sandwiches on Rose Street after Mass; Sunday coffee and sandwich/pastry at La Barantine in Stockbridge after Mass; cappuccino while waiting for a train after physio; Chinese takeaway supper after a long Saturday walk near the Borders; coffee and tea while homeschooling in my favourite cafe; my glorious birthday lunch; rounds of drinks in two Edinburgh pubs. 

Tomorrow we will have a look at my New Year's Resolutions and ponder how I might do better in future.