LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Friday, 8 October 2010

What Fun !

I’m sure that you have probably, by now, have seen the splendidly illustrated post by Mulier Fortis (one of whose photos I have borrowed) about yesterday evening’s Solemn High Mass in celebration of the Patronal Festival of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen – the suburban parish of
His Hermeneuticalness,
Fr Tim Finigan.

Well, it really was as good as Mac suggests : indeed even better. There were a good few people who had travelled some distance – several of them clergy – to be present, and I am sure that every one of them went away feeling that they had got a good deal more than they bargained for – in the very best of ways.

For me, apart from hearing my friend fr Lawrence Lew OP preach on Our Lady of the Rosary (and say a lot which was very good indeed – facebook people can read the homily here), what I really got out of it was the ordinariness of it.

Now that may sound as though I’m putting things down. After all, a lot of people went to a lot of trouble to make sure that it wasn’t ordinary; and as Mac makes clear, in one sense it definitely wasn’t.

What I’m getting at is the fact that Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, is in one way an ordinary Catholic church, in an ordinary suburban parish, full of ordinary people . . . and yet it managed to offer God such an amazing Mass, full of love, and splendour, and devotion, and holiness . . . it did so last evening, and in fact it does so constantly, Sunday by Sunday, day by day.

I spend much of my time (religiously speaking, that is) at the London Oratory; and although many of those who go there are entirely ordinary, the fact is that it’s quite clearly not an ‘ordinary’ Church; the building is amazing; the music is a long way out of the ordinary; and many of those who worship God there are very far from ordinary too . . . there are many of the famous (and infamous), the titled, the stinking rich . . . so although it’s a wonderfully effective, and exciting, church, in one sense it’s not exactly ordimary – especially to the outsider who just turns up for a special occasion.

Blackfen, on the other hand, is so exactly not like that. It is a smallish building of no great architectural merit, completely (apart from the driveway) surrounded by private semi-detached houses; as far as I know there is no-one in the congregation with a title, or millions in the bank; and yet it manages to be such a lively, welcoming, and active Catholic church . . . and whilst I have no doubt that this is largely due to Fr Tim, it must also be very much due to the people of the parish, who bring themselves, and give their time and their talents (and I suspect their resources) generously to make sure that God’s work goes forward in Blackfen . . . and it so obviously does.

Last Night’s MC, for instance, Patrick, is a young man who has – as one can see from his blog – definite opinions on matters liturgical, with many of which I do not (shall we say) entirely agree : but whatever they may be they he largely suppressed them last evening in the interest of ensuring the worship of Almighty God with the dignified celebration of a splendid Solemn High Mass with every circumstance of liturgical splendour in an ordinary sanctuary of no exceptional size . . . an aim which was amply achieved.

This is my point : that Blackfen (and I am sure many another parish) simply gets on with preaching and teaching the Faith, and promoting it to the people around it, as an ordinary thing which will eventually bring them to the Kingdom of Heaven . . . and last night gave us all, for a little time, a wonderful foretaste of that : so on behalf of all the visitors who were there I say to Fr Tim, and to everyone at Blackfen, ‘Thank you for having us, and we look forward to coming back soon. Meanwhile, may God bless you all, and Our Blessed Lady keep you safely under her mantle’.


  1. Very kind, DM - and you can snaffle as many photos as you like provided I get a link!

    Yes, I do understand what you mean by "ordinary" - although the Oratory is gorgeous, I have problems thinking of it as a "parish" church... though, obviously, for those who live in the vicinity it is a parish church...

    That is precisely why it was so important for Summorum Pontificum to be implemented in parishes... so that people could experience the usus antiquior as part of everyday life, as it once was!!

  2. I very much share your sentiment. I suspect one of good aspects of the Holy Father's motu proprio is to take the traditional rites of the church and make them more mainstream. One of the sad aspects of the wilderness of the 70s and 80s was that the old rite was confined to churches (like the London Oratory) which the "great unwashed" could not attend on a regular basis. I am sure the Oratory has never meant for this to happen, but as you observe the vast majority parishioners there are by no means ordinary (or poor for that matter) and so can inadvertently give the impression that "traditional worship" is an exclusive gift of the well-off or cognoscenti. This was something that could not have been envisaged by Faber when he helped set up the Oratory in South Kensington in the 1854.

    What we must avoid, however, is developing an Anglican fastidiousness to the liturgy that is off-putting and does no service for the cause of tradition. Fr. Timothy Finigan's parish-lie shows us that the right way forward out of the deluge and more priests should take up his example.

  3. ". . . as far as I know there is no-one in the congregation with a title, or millions in the bank . . ."
    I take umbrage at the first point and, after the Euro-Lottery last night, I take umbrage at the second. Comte de Poitiers.

  4. Zephyrinus; if my assumption about titles in the Blackfen congregation is erroneous, I apologize : but it was an assumption, rather than based on information, so it would be inappropriate for the titled to take umbrage.
    If last night's winner is a member of Fr Tim's flock then I am delighted, because a decent tithe of £113 million will be of inestimable value to the Parish, and do so much good . . . but umbrage is inappropriate, because the post was well before the lottery draw !