Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In defence of Fr Faber

My original opening gambit for this entry was 'OK- The gloves are off!' I had a nice illustration of a pair of Victorian boxing gloves to accompany the entry. I've cooled off- just a bit. One of my heroes has been maligned admittedly by implication. (see page 26  here).  Of course with the beatification of Newman looming there were bound to be comparisons between the Cardinal and Faber. They didn't always see eye to eye, I imagine, and worked in vastly different worlds. Faber predeceased Newman by over 30 years at a time  much closer to the controversies surrounding the restoration of the hierarchy. His literary output was quite different, employing his talents in many directions, but perhaps best remembered for his hymnody - some of  which has maintained popularity for many years. Admittedly it seems rather dated from our current vantage point but it does contain the essential truths of the faith. It was certainly orthodox. One Church. One Faith. One Baptism. But to call Faber 'extreme' - Is that really fair, or informed, for that matter?

Now if you are talking about ultramontanism, which for reasons quite beyond me has become sort of slur in itself, then Faber might be guilty. Faber was just Catholic, as Newman was, finding a way to respond pastorally to the situation immediately facing the faithful in England at the time. He was, essentially, an overworked pastor who, I get the impression, acted and responded as best he could. He died, relatively young, worn out by his endeavours. Yet his cause is not trumpeted.- and that seems to be, from an outsider's point of view, very Oratorian. Go and count the Oratorians who have been raised to the honours of the altar. They are almost as rare as black tabenacle veils.

Isn't it really is a bit of 'cheap shot' to enhance the public opinion of one individual by demonizing another like this? It is also essentially erroneous considering the curiously modern aim of Faber's hymnody- to provide a way for the average man to 'participate' in worship services in what was quite an innovative way at the time. Neither man, I suspect, would have been happy with the notion of division amongst the 'churches'. Division from the Church certainly, but not anything that hinted of parity of truth. Newman was not the great liberal (in the modern sense) that any shabby bit of PR may want to make him. To try and use Faber, out of context, to perpetuate this myth, is shameful!


  1. I like any guy/girl who has individual solitude toward faith rather than telling me their "form" is better.

    Ye olde Tracterians are very diverse but I have a sneaking suspicion Fr. Faber would like "Love the Tradition" but loathe the trads!

    BTW, I think the opening pic of a candle on "Heart to speaks to Heart" is not particularly creative for the Pope's visit! Hmmmm..do I hear a blog post?

  2. Here here.

    I wonder whether the relations between the Oratorians and Westminster will once again become glacial, after the emergence of that quote?

  3. Well, be fair, they’ve got to try & think of some reasons for beatifying Newman. Be honest, can you think of any?

  4. I love Fr. Faber and did not know he was considered extreme by anyone (although any strictly orthodox Catholic may be considered extreme by liberals). I became familiar with his books before I knew he wrote hymns. His 'Spiritual Conferences' is wonderful.

  5. It would be very kind if you could link to/blogroll our blog:


    God bless you!


    Four cheers for Fr. Faber!

    They would chain our Father in prisons dark,
    Are they still in heart and conscience free?
    How sweet will be our Father's fate,
    When they like us will cheer for thee!

  6. Hey I just found your blog, and share your ideas especially with regards to the ultra traditonalist movement. I think it is time for Vatican II to step forward, not the 'spirit' of the council. The Church is the same before and after,..not the traddies going so far to the right they go into schism, or the so called Spirit of VII crowd going so far to the left they become heretics! God Bless!

    PS. I too operate a Catholic blog out of Montreal,..www.prime1-marco.blogspot.com

  7. Bravo; the same thing about Faber and Ward struck me in the booklet. To make someone look bigger, it's easy to make someone else look smaller.


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