From Mr W Leigh SIR – I would agree with the title (“Missing Mass is bad for the community , as well as for us”) given to the letters in your issue of March 11. Missing Mass is indeed bad for the community and for the individual who is doing the missing. However, I have something of a vested interest in this subject as I am one of those poor unfortunates who forego going to Mass every weekend. I do this because I find it such a trial to actually go to a Mass in my diocese on either a Saturday or a Sunday. In the city where I live, the liturgy is of such a poor standard that it is too painful to attend. Indeed, it is so poor that when I converted to the Catholic faith in 1994, I made a conscious decision to be received into the Faith in a Manchester church, as it was the nearest church to me with both a reverent, inspirational liturgy and a sanctuary that had not been pointlessly reordered. In so doing, I also escaped the “Noddy-like” RCIA form of religious instruction that is the staple in this part of the country.
However, little did I know at the time of my reception that I would become trapped in York, and only now get to go to Mass when I travel down to Manchester, Oxford or London.
I am married with two children and dutifully drop them off every Sunday morning for Mass, and yet I cannot attend. This tears me up inside because I would dearly like to share the Faith with my wife and children. If my diocesan bishop and his priests were better pastors to those who prefer a more traditional form of liturgy (be it the Old Rite or the Novus Ordo as it should be said and performed), then I would gladly attend Mass every Sunday with a happy heart. Indeed, the Holy Father has stated that the Old Rite should be freely available to those who are attached to it as a form of liturgical worship. I know that I am not in a minority, as I have many friends and acquaintances who are single and are in a free position to travel long distances in order to attend a Mass which caters to their spiritual needs.
Fr Silver (Letters, Mar 11) states that “deliberately missing Mass or allowing it to be squeezed out of our weekend schedule sounds like a pretty serious sin.” I would honestly agree with his assessment. However, is it not also a serious sin on the part of a bishop to disobey his Pope by refusing to allow his diocesan flock free access to more traditional forms of worship? The old Latin Mass in the Middlesbrough diocese is certainly marginalised to the point where Catholics are denied free access.
This letter is not meant to be a statement of rhetorical defiance on my part, but a heartfelt plea for help. If my bishop and the majority of priests under his charge could find it in their hearts to be good pastors to myself and to those in my diocese (and they will find them not to be a minority group) who would like a traditional Latin Mass or a Novus Ordo where they can kneel to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord and not have to sing the Gloria to the tune of “English Country Garden”, then a lot of Catholics might appear from “out of the woodwork” and start attending Mass as they should. I know that I gladly would.
Yours faithfully, WALTER LEIGH York