Sunday, July 11, 2010

Has anybody seen an altar?

I'm on the 'academic trail' this weekend. A rare conference came up which brought the threads of a few projects of mine together. Several speakers, that I've been wanting to hear, were appearing within the same couple of days so it seemed worth the investment both financially and in time away. It's also given me an opportunity to visit old haunts from my student days. The conference is sort of on the edge of what I would call 'nervous traddiedom'. The usual suspects are present as visitors; indeed there's a veritable sea of different coloured handkerchiefs, oops, I mean pom-poms. This gives a somewhat 'strength in numbers' feel to the whole thing when the local situation is probably a bit fragile. I get the impression that speakers are pretty well divided between those who have taken the plunge into tradition and those who may have half a leg in, at the moment, testing the water for fear of a change in the weather. Only one speaker, so far, might have been 'bred in captivity' rather than 'caught in the wild'. Yet one of those curious elements of traddieland remains constant. We'll have two High Masses, one of them Pontifical, during the proceedings having kicked off last night with the obligatory Pontifical Vespers. But how to find an altar for a simple low Mass in all this glory? After Vespers I charged the sacristy door, slipping in with a bunch of Dominican novices. I then consulted a friend, one of the visiting speakers. The ‘Low Mass’ arrangements rather mystified him too. I gather there might be a vague possibility of altars available after the Pontifical Mass this morning. I did a quick count of clergy present and the altars in the Church. The numbers don't add up in the time available. ‘No, Madama Sacristana, I will not be concelebrating at the Vigil Mass’. Change of Plans. Think I better go and knock on the sacristy door of the local SSPX chapel.


  1. We guess you are swimming against the tide bit perhaps the local SSPX is not the place for your heart! Pax

  2. The situation seems similar to what used to obtain at St. Peter's in Rome, as Fr. Finigan elaborated upon in the past. Perhaps what is needed here also is the intervention of a 'porporato' to settle matters?

    Of course finding one so inclined on the current E&W bench might be a Diogenean effort...


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