From Mr B J Eason SIR – I welcome the letters from Peter Mahoney (September 3) and Michael Smith (October 7). My own route to the Latin Mass Society took much longer than theirs.
When the New Mass was introduced in the 1970s I, along with most Catholics, accepted it without question, and believed that the traditional Mass had been banned. It was only many years later, when I realised the scale of lapsation and lack of vocations, that I began to wonder why, and why this was now on a scale not seen since the Reformation. I slowly began to realise that the changes were themselves partly to blame, as they had been unduly influenced by the “anything goes” secular attitudes of the age. These changes were stated to be “in the spirit of Vatican II”, which they were not. They led to a slackening of centuries-old beliefs and disregard for the God-given authority of the Church, still evident today. One farreaching result was that our schools stopped teaching the fullness of the faith, which meant that future generations knew less and less about their faith. But the most visible result was seen in the New Mass, the deficiencies of which have been well aired.
For me, one of the most striking problems was (and is) that there are few quiet periods allowing for contemplation and reflection. The celebrant continually speaks in the same loud voice and there are too many communal chants, especially intrusive after the Consecration. Also, when receiving the Sacred Host we should surely be humbly on our knees.
So we have a situation in which the faithful know little about their faith and receive little sense of the sacred in church. Is it any wonder that so many lapse?
An increased availability of the traditional liturgy will not of itself improve everything, but it would be an important step in the right direction and encourage progress in other ways, too. Unfortunately the great majority of Catholics are not even aware that the traditional Mass has never been banned, has always been officially recognised as of equal validity with the new Mass and is being encouraged by our Pope.
One final point: there appears to be an astonishing complacency among the “Modernists”, who seem to oppose any change to current practices. I cannot recall any proposals in the last few decades from them (and here I include, sadly, our bishops) which offer serious hope of reversing the steady, and ultimately terminal, decline in this country. If I am wrong then I am happy to be corrected.
To be credible, any suggestions must, of course, avoid copying anything already tried within the Church of England, where the rate of decline has been even worse than our own.
Yours faithfully, BJEASON Barnet, Herts From Mr J B Griffin SIR – Amid misgivings with the translation, and the way it has been imposed, the new missal was introduced in the Liverpool archdiocese on October 2. Behind us every Sunday at Mass is a man blind from birth and his Austrian mother, in her mid-80s. In the same bench occasionally is a young man with learning difficulties. All three were confident with former responses and common prayers, but will have difficulty from now. Did those who insist on change consider the deaf, the blind, the mentally handicapped and immigrants? Did they give any thought to those receiving Communion at home, or in care homes, many with failing memories but who can still recite familiar prayers? Must they re-learn the Confiteor?
With five children born between 1958 and 1964, my wife and I were angry with Paul VI and Humanae Vitae. Age supposedly mellows, but at 80 and 77 respectively, our anger is undiminished, though now directed more widely. We have worked all our lives for the Church we love, but are dismayed at the present state of that institution. We are especially concerned for the faith of our 16 grandchildren and their progeny. Will there be a Catholic Church for them?
Is the Pope fully aware of the problems of our Church here in the British Isles, replicated, I suspect, in all developed countries? Do bishops make him aware, or does loyalty to him come before the hopes and needs of their flocks? The ordinariate was created for disaffected Anglicans. What about disaffected Catholics? Where is their voice? Who consults them? We see declining, ageing congregations, and few volunteers for parish jobs traditionally carried out by lay people. We see sick and elderly priests worn out by serving several parishes, and no one to replace them.
We see fewer churches offering Sunday – let alone weekday – Masses. We see few practising Catholics becoming teachers, while in our schools most children do not practise, or even know, their Faith. We want discussion on celibacy, divorced and remarried Catholics, collaborative ministry, collegiality, etc, What are we offered? An unnecessary, largely unwanted, new missal, Friday abstinence, a “Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation” and a “Courtyard of the Gentiles”. All the while, we are exhorted to pray and reminded that “God will provide”. I think of another aphorism: “God helps those who help themselves.” When will our leaders take the action which many Catholics consider necessary to tackle the Church’s deep crisis?
Yours faithfully, J B GRIFFIN Leigh, Lancashire