Sunday, August 28, 2011

England and Wales are switching to the new Ordinary of the Mass translation next Sunday
I understand the ordinariate there is already using it.
If I recall rightly, there are far fewer Catholics in Britain than the US both in total numbers and proportionally: no long, rooted tradition of religious liberty under the law giving Catholics the freedom to practise (omnes sancti martyres anglorum, orate pro nobis; penal laws were lifted in the 1800s) and no huge wave of immigration like what changed American big cities and American culture (can you imagine New York without its tough cops, gangsters, just as tough powerhouse churchmen like Cardinal Spellman or for that matter pizzerias?). Thanks to history and geography the church there has, in its modern history, always been very Irish (just like on ‘Bless Me, Father’), even more so than in the States: Irish newspapers for sale in the church narthex for example. ‘The Italian Mission to the Irish’, some English used to sniff. The church has taken hits from Vatican II, European secularism and a hostile Protestant host culture. I understand now the dominant or ascending group are immigrant/temporary workers from Poland. In any event I can imagine both the older Irish (the last generation from Ireland’s huge religious revival after emancipation, the pious Irish embedded in our culture that we still remember: going my way?) and the young Poles being happy with this latest aspect of Pope Benedict’s renewal. He has fixed all of the serious problems with the Mass in English for 40 years.

As Damian Thompson tells you, they’ve got their hands full with the ‘Magic Circle’ clergy and lay apparatchiki, their AmChurch (this crap besets Catholics in Protestant countries), but because I was looking for high church I could find it there back in the ’80s: the Brompton Oratory doing R² in baroque Italian style when it wasn’t cool, the Ronald Knox Society using the nobly simple space (built for the old religion so it works) at Blackfriars, Opus Dei at Grandpont House like something out of Brideshead Revisited, of course helped along by Knox-like converts from Anglo-Catholicism (19th-century Catholicism in style, in English).

The ordinariate is just another way to keep that going (much of it’s long been run-of-the-mill Novus but before that, there was that tradition of good style) and seems the Pope’s prototype for the new liturgical movement.

Some Catholic types there: the discreet, genteel ‘Old Catholics’ (not the liberal rump sect based in Holland; old rich recusant families who could afford to pay fines to keep the old religion, to themselves); the enthusiastic (ha ha, Mgr Knox) ex-Anglo-Catholics like Fr Faber (the oratory’s founder); lots of Irish workers in big cities and now Polish workers.

My Catholic Truth Society RSV is my go-to Bible.

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