Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Do as I say, not as I do .....

There's a delicious piece here, from the Provost of the London Oratory, which touches on the subject of some people's  somewhat hypocritical distinction between what is good enough for the worship of God and what is appropriate for them in their personal lives.
Having been brought up very much in the tradition of  'nothing but the best is good enough for God,' the opposite kind of attitude, of which we see rather more in parts of the Anglican tradition, often masquerading behind a theological preference for a reformed plainness and simplicity, always comes as a bit of a shock. 
It usually seems to be those who complain most vociferously about "High Church" ceremonial who have the most expensive cars and the most lavishly furnished of houses - sometimes, dare I say it, almost idolatrously so. 
I think it was Father Maconochie who, in the Victorian era, during his long struggle with the virulently intolerant, protestant, not to say puritan, Church Association, who made the comment that protestant principles seemed to be highly, and conveniently, conducive to the acquisition of private wealth. The Catholic liturgical tradition addresses the whole person, the senses as well as the mind, and is a mirror held up to the worship of heaven itself. There's no contradiction whatsoever here with a necessary evangelical concern for the poor and the needy; the Catholic faith (wherever we find it) is a religion of 'both, and' rather than than either, or'....

Anyway, here's the relevant passage, originally posted by Fr Ray Blake:
"...Recently the Oratory Fathers were taken to task at the end of a Sunday High Mass. An elegant woman marched towards the Provost through the lingering fog of incense and demanded to know what we Oratorians thought we were playing at. The causes of consternation included expensive-looking flower arrangements at the Lady Altar, vestments and golden vessels that had been spotted in the Sanctuary. Surely these extravagances were from funds that should have been given to the poor?
It was explained that the flowers were leftovers from a wedding the day before and that the silver gilt chalice and ciborium had almost certainly been picked up for a song in the 1850s when ecclesiastical Swabian rococo was not much in vogue. The vestments are thread-bear from a century and a half of use and, while still charming for their faded beauty, are too far-gone to fetch good money at auction. The dialogue ended in a slightly more serene atmosphere than it had begun and the articulate woman drove away placated in a gleaming new car which Google searches revealed to have cost £90,000...."


  1. All in Matt 26: 7-13.

  2. Oh priceless!
    Something similar happened in my Parish after one fairly modest High Mass, quite a few years ago.


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