On behalf of a number of young Catholics who are deeply confused and startled by rather equivocal behaviour in the Church we humbly entreat our leaders, our bishops and priests, to explain what can only he classed as outright scandal.
We were all led to believe that a wonderful transformation took place at the Second Vatican Council. Recent events have compelled us to make a closer study of this euphoric state, and we sec facts emerging that crumble this otherwiseperfect illusion, In the last few years it has not been uncommon that any individual Catholic expressing anxiety over the New Liturgy, in favour of retaining objects of traditional piety or, more especially, those who wish for the Tridentine Rite to take its place alongside the other rites within the Church are treated in a manner that is reminiscent of the Holy Inquisition, How do those clergy and la folk justify their terrible lack of tolerance in the light of the teaching of Vatican II? We see it as unwholly unjustifiable.
Quite recently. in Montreal, on the authority of his bishop, a priest was physically removed from his church for declining to regard a ban on the Tridentine Mass which had been requested by many of his parishioners.
In Paris, embittered and frustrated Catholics have been forced into the ridiculous position of forcibly occupying a church in the hope of drawing the attention of Cardinal Marty. This is the very prelate who recently inaugurated the "Parish 2000" scheme and effectively ordained seven laymen on the spot.
Is it possible that the "progressive" wing. who have rejoiced in parish councils and liturgical weekends, are content to hear only what they want to hear from the pews? If old Mrs Murphy should dare complain that she would rather kneel for Holy Communion than stand she is at once acclaimed as an ultra-conservative — a fiendish reactionary blindly clinging to the past. Is this arrogance not typified in the "infallible pronouncements" of the Kfings. Rahners and Congers: those bearers of "revealed truth" willing the Church on, regardless of the feelings of the vast majority of ordinary Catholics, to a bold new frontier which might not be to the benefit of its members but might satisfy and glorify its intellectuals?
Far from being academic, this situation is driving thousands of very hurt and disillusioned Catholics into the arms of the likes of Archbishop Lefebvre. But it should be remembered that most of his sympathisers neither question the supremacy of the Holy Father nor the teachings of the Council.
Many are probably very uncertain of what they want, but obviously something must be amiss to create such blatant dissatisfaction. Assaults and insults from the ranks of the new puritans and iconoclasts only enhance Lefebvre's role as chief protagonist in a war of "progressive" versus "traditionalist". So what should he done to remedy this unhappy state of affairs? There are three simple possibilities: 1. Permit the Tridentine Rite to be said in all main churches and cathedrals, or, at the request of the laity — thus pleasing everyone. 2. Acknowledge the Tridentine Rite, with its distinctive liturgy, as the basis of an individual rite within the Church and in full communion with Rome. It would enjoy the same honour and prestige as is accorded the Copts, Maronites, etc. 3. Du absolutely nothing, and further the isolation and martyrdom of the Tridentine Rite showing it as much benevolence as we once reserved for our "separated brethren". By doing this we would set the scene for the most catastrophic schism the Church has ever seen. Contrary to what some may think, this would have as much effect in this country as anywhere else, albeit the French are less patient than we British. Can we really consider this as an option?
As Catholics who have faithfully adhered to the genuine spirit of Vatican II and have striven to make the hest of the New Liturgy and the fruits of the Council we cannot allow our very own Catholic brothers in Christ to be treated as heretics and troublemakers by reformers in the Inquisition's clothing. Do they really hope to inspire confidence and respect in the hearts of young Catholics? Schism is both destructive and evil, but in their own zealous blindness they help it on its way.
Why not the Tridentine Rite side by side with the folk Mass? Why not a choice of kneeling or standing for Communion? Why no choice other than the arbitary decisions taken by heartless and faceless men in Rome! Something is terribly wrong, and we demand that our superiors should explain without equivocation. Francis ElphInstone (20) Patrick Conell (22) Thomas Quinn (25) Edinburgh.
Lay participation in the Mass is, as Mrs Wades so rightly says (February 25) "a sharing", However, it must not be forgotten that participation can, and very often does, remain on a superficial level.
Responses are made, but unenthusiastically, familiarity having deprived them of any real significance. Offertory processions and readings arc undertaken by few lay people, the result being that • what was intended to induce
.a sense of greater participation sometimes leads to a greater sense of isolation in some of the congregation.
Is this kind of limited participation really leading to a deepening of our understanding of the Mass?
Unless such activities are whole• hearted and universal — as nearly as possible — they might as well be eliminated and, instead, attention concentrated on the Mass itself rather than on the external gestures of the laity.
Perhaps the most distracting influence in the Mass is the incessant physical movement required of the congregation — an endless round of standing, sitting, kneeling, especially on Sundays. far more than was the custom in the Tridentine Mass.
This activity is a real barrier to any sort of recollection. For concentrated prayer. physical quiet is desirable, and I cannot see that such luck of movement is in any way inimical to a deeper realisation of our roles in the Mass, both as individuals and as members of a community.
Does our sharing have to be expressed in a superficial form? Does it have to be noisy? Does it have to he fidgety? Would it not be better to concentrate more fully on developing a deeper and more spiritual level of sharing?
The Mass may be a meal, but it is primarily a spiritual meal, and the 'present attention to vocal assent and to gesture seems to me to diminish, even to obscure, that aspect of its truth.
(Mrs) Mary Goodyear Roath, Cardiff.
Mr John Boland (March 4) cornplains that in a Surrey church it is impossible to receive Holy Communion in the hand because of the problem of the delivery of the paten. The remedy surely lies within his own power. He should extend his hand in the proscribed manner and decline to receive the paten.
If Communion into the hand is not given. let the matter be placed before the bishop of the diocese. It is our bishops who have given us the option of Communion in the hand or mouth; and let it be remembered that the choice is with the communicant. not the priest.
Jack Goodway Banbury. Oxfordshire,