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For saints, there are no coincidences
SIR – Colin Brazier (Notebook, February 16) discussed the possibility of coincidences. He quoted the doyen of journalists, Alistair Cooke, who suggested in one of his Letter from America programmes in 2001 that coincidences were “a gift of grace”, a view with which Brazier agreed.
They both get support in that view from a saint. Pope John Paul II, on the first anniversary of his attempted assassination in St Peter’s Square, was in Fatima to thank Our Lady of Fatima on whose feast the attempt had been made on his life.
In his address at the shrine he said: “As soon as I recovered consciousness after the attack my thoughts turned instinctively towards this shrine, and I wanted to express here my gratitude to our Heavenly Mother for having saved my life. In the designs of Providence there are no mere coincidences.”
Fr Michael G Murphy
St Michael’s, Bishopstown, Cork, Republic of Ireland
Don’t knock older Traditional Catholics
SIR – Michael Davis’s attack on the ‘‘older generation’’ of Traditional Catholics (Comment, February 16) misses the mark. The tone of the mainstream lay movement for the preservation of the Traditional Mass, represented by the Latin Mass Society and it sister organisations around the world, was set by men such as Dietrich von Hildebrand and Eric de Saventham, both of whom risked their lives in their opposition to Hitler; Hamish Fraser, a convert from communism; and Hugh Ross-Williamson, deselected as a Labour parliamentary candidate for being too left-wing.
The extraordinary devotion of Traditional Catholics to the papacy over the decades, when they received little but hard knocks from the hierarchy, prevented them from taking the easy option of leaving the structures of the Church. Now that their central argument has been vindicated – the ancient Mass was never abrogated – we can see that their obedience to the bishops of their day was supererogatory.
The Traditional movement today, as Davis notes, contains many young people. Through no fault of their own, a great many come from broken homes, and nearly all from homes where the faith was scarcely practised, if at all. They have grown up seeing Tradition vilified, and its rebellious image has proved attractive. If you want to shock “boomer” parents, a mantilla may be more effective than cannabis.
Fortunately, the Traditional movement has something they not only like – the ancient Mass – but which also is an objective channel of grace. It takes seriously the issue of sin. And it hasn’t driven away the older age groups who can provide example and guidance.
We value the older generation of Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass for their fidelity, for their generosity, for their experience and their wisdom. Of special importance are those who can remember how it was when Tradition was normal: when to be a Traditional Catholic was simply to be a Catholic. I will miss them when they are gone.
Davis mentions the principle that we are obliged to respect our parents. On the basis of this principle I suggest he owes an apology to his often heroic predecessors in the movement for the Traditional Mass.
Chairman, the Latin Mass Society, London WC2
SIR – I was surprised by some of the comments in Michael Davis’s article. He says he does not understand why so many Traditionalists insist on using words like “sodomite” and
“Mohammedan”. Although I have been a mainstream Traditionalist since the 1960s, I have seldom if ever heard homosexuals described as “sodomites” and I have never, ever heard Muslims described as “Mohammedans”.
As for the “repugnant anti-Semitism of Richard Williamson and Hutton Gibson” having “virtually disappeared from our congregations”, it has certainly not disappeared from any congregations that I have belonged to for the simple reason that it was never there in the first place.
A false dichotomy
SIR – I take the point made by your correspondent Susan Rodger (Letter, February 23) about the availability of the unmarried priest, as compared with an ordained “family man”. However, I don’t believe the dichotomy between “a priest fully living his vocation and a married man whose job is being a “priest’ ” to be as clear as Ms Rodger suggests. I have been a priest in the Church of England for nearly 32 years. I celebrate the Eucharist every day, recite the Divine Office and, whatever else they may say about me, I don’t think that my parishioners could ever say that I’ve not been always available to them.
Availability has rather more to do with how a priest understands his vocation and sets his priorities, be he married or unmarried.
Stephen Jones (Rev Canon)
SIR –I wish to take issue with two points in Elizabeth Price’s letter (February 23). First, she writes: “we are silent during the Mass”. That may be so as far as the world sees it, but since the priest commands, “Lift up your hearts” and we reply in the affirmative, our hearts and minds should be full of prayer and praise in which we join the whole host of heaven, a vast chorus of praise. I would have been happier to read that we join Christ in offering ourselves to the Father rather than “talking to our most beloved brother”.
Secondly, Mrs Price writes of Christ after Mass, “if he could speak”, implying that Christ cannot speak; but he does speak to anyone after Mass who kneels quietly in prayerful thanksgiving for what they have received. As one writer said: “There is nothing smaller, meeker or more silent than Christ present in the Host.” We need to enter that silence in which Christ speaks to us.
Anthony F Davy
Storrington, West Sussex
SIR – Your otherwise excellent cover story of February 23 misses a crucial point. It was initially surprising that Cardinal O’Malley should have taken such a strong stand after Pope Francis had said there was no evidence against Bishop Barros. However, it soon became less surprising when we learnt that Mr Cruz had written an eight-page letter complaining about Bishop Barros to the Pope, which was handed to Cardinal O’Malley who passed it on to the Pope. Cardinal O’Malley knew the Pope was wrong about there being no evidence and thus spoke up.
Nicolas J Bellord
Horsted Keynes, West Sussex
SIR – I read with hope Pastor Iuventus’s piece entitled “Why plane journeys are good for prayer” (February 23), in the expectation that it would offer comfort to those of us with a fear of flying. My hopes were dashed.
I’m ashamed to say that, in my case at least, the motivation to pray on an aeroplane is due to the conviction that I am about to meet my maker imminently, rather than as the result of a contemplation of the vastness of the cosmology. I envy the pastor!