The Gift of Fellowship
20 April 2005
Just this last week I was approached by a lady after midweek Mass who thought I might be interested in a certain periodical to which she subscribed. She mentioned she had taken note of certain things I had spoken of, I think both to her and perhaps publicly two or three years ago, when a public meeting was held in our local Catholic school for the laity and priests of the deanery.
This meeting was to outline and put to the faithful the intentions of our diocese for the clutching of parish priests, the further use of deacons and to supposedly listen to the laity as to our thoughts on the decline of vocations and Mass attendances generally. It was particularly poignant to me and my parish, when bearing in mind that as little as ten or twelve years ago the Sunday Mas attendance in our local church boasted figures upwards of 1800 people and often as many as 2000 attending most Sundays. Today, a good attendance would be 300-400 and is often as low as 250 or so.
The meeting lasted for some two hours and in a deanery of some 20,000 Catholic souls or more about 150-250 attended. We were told of all the plans mentioned above and were given a chance to put our thoughts. Very few people, perhaps five or six, spoke out and most were in agreement and happy to accept all being presented to them. I could stay silent no longer. I raised my hand and stood to speak.
My words were simple and to the point. I gave notice of the poor teaching of Catholic Faith and morals in our Catholic schools. I asked why it was my own three children, then aged 22, 19 and 12 years of age (who had attended and where one still attends the same schools) were unable to explain to me in simple terms, Confession, Sanctifying Grace, Original Sin, Purgatory, Hell, the Divinity of Christ and His human nature and the One True Faith.
But my main concern was The Mass.
I aired my grave concern with regards the new rites of the "celebration of Mass"? I asked why Mass was no longer referred to as a sacrifice, Christís sacrifice?
I asked why women were treading the sanctuary and attending the Altar where even the Mother of my Christ would not venture?
I asked why young girls were being invited to become altar "servers" and why the cassock and cotta of my youth were being replaced by an Anglican-like vestment?
I asked why women (and indeed men) were being made into "Eucharistic" ministers to give the Body and Blood of Christ where His priest and priest alone should give?
I aired my grave concern as to Communion in the hand and holding the sacred chalice?
Added to all of this was the exile of Saint Michael from the end of our Mass? Why was it, I asked, what Satan could not overcome, men overcame with ease?
Finally, I made the assertion that it was the Mass and our belief in the True Presence that set us aside from the Protestantism that I feared was attacking our Church from within. Though I apologised for speaking out, I did nevertheless point out that we the laity, had been invited to do just this, and for those who wanted to be as one with our separated brethren they should go out and invite them into our glorious Church and one true Faith, and not go out to join with theirs.
Needless to say I received very little support. I think people are apprehensive about speaking out when given the chance, though I believe it is our duty to do so. Perhaps they worry that by doing so they are attacking and therefore not supporting the Church.
To be fair, five or six people later approached me to say that they too felt the same and now wished they had spoken similarly, but were afraid to do so. I again made the point that so long as we are careful not to give those who would destroy our Faith ammunition, then we should feel free to air any misgivings especially when invited to do so.
Nothing if anything came from this meeting except, of course, the implementation of those plans we were asked to comment upon.
The following year after Sunday Mass the parishioners were asked to fill in a questionnaire distributed by the archdiocese. At best this was some wishy-wash tosh about Catholic family life. No mention of the Mass, prayer, confession etc. I did not fill it in but rather replied by letter, a copy of which I have enclosed. I did not sign the letter as I did not wish by signature to pinpoint my own parish or parish priest in particular, as I believe that the Humanism and Modernism I fear is attacking all parishes both in our country and throughout the world.
So here we are with another year passed and a lady approaches me concerning a periodical she has signed up to ... your periodical, Christian Order.
I must admit to being a little apprehensive before saying yes and accepting her gift. Yet gift it has proved to be.
For in your magazine I found a fellowship that told me I was not alone in my fears. In your magazine I read the concerns of so many, who like myself, love and will ever cherish the Faith ... the One, True, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.
I am not about attacking my Church nor the faith practised within, but rather in sustaining and holding it for what it is ... the gift of God and the Faith of our Fathers.
As for my children, I have long since been instructing them in traditional Christian doctrine. I thank God and Our Blessed Mother that we have always as a family prayed the Rosary together each evening, as I believe this and this alone has maintained my family in a faith that has, though often challenged, remained strong.
For my own part I am a writer of Christian poetry and through my writing espouse my Catholic Faith - for as I have written... "if I have not this... then I have nothing."
Please accept my gift ("The Preparation") for the gift you have given me, and feel free to use it should you think fit.