26 July 2009

W Grinstead (and the Feast of St Anne)

Once again today at Our Lady of Consolation, we were privileged to assist at the Extraordinary Form. The sermon was a real heartener - it was such a battery recharge! We were lucky to have Fr Talbot, Chaplain at Chavagnes, as the celebrant, thank you very much Father! Chavagnes International College, as some of you may already know, is a Catholic school for boys in France, which follows a fantastic and unapologetically Catholic line. It was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary some time ago, you may have seen it, which was infamous not for Catholic education, the boys, staff or even for being run by English in France, but because of the staged bunny send-off which had not happened before, or happened since, C4's departure.

There was of course lots of chat following Mass, and a couple of things cropped up in conversation. One of which was how to encourage families to come to the EF. Now, this is one of my big moans, because 3.00pm on a Sunday afternoon, or 7.30pm on a weekday evening, or midday on a Saturday can be totally unchild-friendly times to have a Mass. Not that I'm ungrateful, far from it! I grab an EF whenever I can, family committments permitting. But not many young families fancy an hour's drive to Mass on a fine Sunday afternoon if there's a 9.00am just up the road (all the EFs available in the Diocese are 45 minutes to an hour+ away from me). Mass at any time with children -even locally- requires an amount of logistical planning Winston Churchill would have been proud of. In my experience mid-afternoon/mealtimes/bedtimes are when most kids/toddlers/babies are at their most bad tempered, tired and recalcitrant. It can also make doing anything as, or with, your family almost impossible, especially if Sunday is the only day of the week you have off work.

This means there is no opportunity to introduce the EF to people. A cynic would say that that's the ultimate plan: To keep people from it in the hope that the EF will just die out. Well, sorry, but given the MP, and being one of those who never knew the Old Rite being a post VII-er, but fell in love with it anyway, I can't see that happening!

So what am I saying? I think I'm saying that if we're serious about the EF, we have to encourage/beg/plead for Mass times that are more family friendly. There are many churches on Sundays in my far east part of the Diocese which may only have an 11.00 am. What's wrong with an EF at one of those at 9.00am? And if we do get more convenient Mass times, even just once a month? Well, I don't think they would be bursting at the seams at first as the EF is a completely different liturgical kettle of fish to the NO. But to be honest, I don't think that matters: brick by brick.

Which of course brings us to the supply side of things. I touched on the demand in my last rant. I'm not going to say anything particular about supply at the mo, as I haven't got time, I'll just say that supply isn't necessarily the problem.

Now, St Anne! It's her feast and my name day (I also have two others, lucky me!), and I would like to thank her for taking such great care of me over the years - I don't know how I'd manage without her, and now I'm going to celebrate with a nice glass of red and then some cake!

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