Friday, 3 June 2011

The Wood between the Worlds...

I don't like being homeless. I feel as though I have stepped over a threshold, or fought my way out of a dim and stifling woodland to stand cold and vulnerable on the edge of a great cliff, looking down over miles and miles of more woods. Yes the wind is more keen and I can see more clearly on the top of the world, but it's scary and cold, and the dim wood out of which I came seems more a safe haven than a trap. A gust of wind blows me back to the wood, and I clutch at one of the trees, which seems at once menacing and inviting - even the charm of the wizard Saruman as he tried desperately to deal with his enemies piecemeal, and finding that his influence had waned. I have two options: either I can delude myself and submit to the wood again, against my conscience, where life seems not life but a cheap subsistence, where exploring is frowned upon lest you trip over an old root, an inconsistency in the great structure of the place, and the whole thing comes crashing down, with me under it; or I can take a great leap (commit moral or intellectual suicide, as it were) and hope to God that I land in one piece somewhere. But where?

The soul destroying thing is that in the last year I have been going to Mass, I haven't really felt like partaking in any ''active'' way at all. Yesterday I felt ''bored'' during Mass and just sat down before the Gospel (the mistakes of the Ministers started to piss me off) and read a chapter from the book a friend of mine gave me. I reject the Roman Traddie nonsense that you can mumble a Rosary or go off somewhere and light a candle, and that you have by some mystical way done your bit during the Eucharistic liturgy - it is utterly ludicrous; there is no room for individual pieties during the Sacred Liturgy, which is communal (something Rome doesn't understand with its fetish for ''low'' Mass). I also appreciate that it is dangerous to be outside the liturgical mentality during Liturgy; but can anyone blame me for my disinclination? I remember a while ago I began a post about Liturgy (forget what it was about), and after the first sentence I wrote: ''Oh what's the bloody point?'' and just went out. There comes a point where you realise that everyone else is wrong except you; you can't change that, so you might as well just give up because in spite of all remonstrance, nobody pays any attention anyway. Maybe I should just stick the proverbial finger up at all churches, liturgies, missals, breviaries and prayerbooks and just live life as I have always wanted to live it. It is very respectable to go to church on Sundays...


  1. When you say 'live life as you have always wanted to live it' - do you mean freely indulge in sin? Because if so, then your great learning has infact been your undoing.

  2. Before the 19th century knowledge of the liturgy was confined to the clergy (perhaps it was just as well?). It was in the reign of Leo XIII that the prohibition on translating the Ordinary into the vernacular was dropped.

  3. My dear, I should take a gin and chill out. You can't sort all the problems of the Church's liturgical life by yourself. But please, for God's sake, don't abandon the Church altogether. The analogy of the "wood between the worlds" is fitting because it isn't a place to stay, and because staying there leads to drowsiness and forgetfulness, of having "no idea" how long you've been there or why. You need to pick a pool and take the plunge. I know this can be difficult - every time I think I'm reconciled to trying to get deeper into our Roman tradition, I find that something turns against it (this week it was the stupid arrangements for Ascension), and I realise I'm probably on a losing road: hasn't too much gone too wrong for too long? I don't know. But I'm sure that the Church is where Jesus Christ is, and where the Church is Jesus is. Don't cut yourself off from him. I know RCism can seem obsessed with certain moral questions; so find your home in one of the ancient churches. And please, please don't think that somehow anyone can be happy just living as you want - put your trust in the Lord and in his Holy Mother and they will not disappoint.

  4. Patricius: I reject the Roman Traddie nonsense that you can mumble a Rosary or go off somewhere and light a candle, and that you have by some mystical way done your bit during the Eucharistic liturgy - it is utterly ludicrous; there is no room for individual pieties during the Sacred Liturgy

    Balderdash! I have graduate level training in Latin and I still say the rosary at every Mass. At Low Mass I say the rosary continuously except during the lections and the elevation. At solemn Mass I say the rosary during the offertory and Canon (save elevation). I also say the server's parts very quietly.

    Read Mediator Dei. Pius XII approved of the rosary implicitly, especially for those who do not understand the Mass well. I don't know anything about Mass at all, so I suppose that means I should say the Rosary!

    The rosary during Mass is a way to approach the Holy Sacrifice under the guidance of Our Lady. Who knows the Son better than his mother? The recitation of prayers also helps me stay focused on the sacramental action.

    Don't fall for the postconciliar liturgist distortion that "active participation" means reading every last word in a missal or making every dialogue response. There are many profitable ways to hear Mass. Don't hem yourself into a rigid idealistic view of piety.


  5. A good comment, Mystra. I also think the analogy of the Wood Between The Waters is a good one, for precisely the same reasons. I wouldn't however, recommend returning to Charn!

  6. Anagnostis,

    You beat me to it!

    I was thinking on the lines that Patrick has not come from the Wood per se but from the pool that had been a gateway to dying Charn and its tired old sun; a world that had been destroyed the abuse of Power.

    Polly and Digory could, of course, have chosen to jump into any number of pools - in their attempt to deal with the Evil Power represented by Jadis, Queen of the World, they landed into a pool whose connected world was just begining.

    The Wood is not a place to stay but their other pools to try - just make sure you are wearing the right colour ring.

  7. I am sincerely interested to know, Patricius, what you truly would like to do in life? Whatever it is, you should do it. And whatever it is, i am sure that it would not, does not, conflict with being Catholic. Personally, I now see the Catholic Church - the Church of Christ - in a wider sense, as being the entirety of all those churches where where the Apostolic Succession is maintained, the Holy Sacrifice and other Sacraments validly celebrated according to the traditional rites, and the orthodox faith (at least implicitly) confessed. That frees me from the fear of what would happen to my faith and religious practice should a future Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Church - exempli gratia - again forbid the traditional Roman Rite. I could always in good conscience begin attending an apostolic church (western or eastern) not under the jurisdiction of Rome. As for the Roman Church's obsessive (self-protecting and hypocritical) preoccupation with certain moral issues - some of which in reality are not moral isseus at all - the best advice is to follow one's conscience, which is the highest authority in one's own private life, and be at peace. For those here who will say ''yes, but one's conscience must be informed'' - i say, who can know better than oneself, as to whether or not one's own conscience is informed? The role of the Church is to celebrate the Divine Mysteries and communicate these to the faithful, thereby adoring and glorifying the Trinity, and making His true worshippers participant in everlasting life already here on earth. The Church is not supposed to be a spiritual police force, nor an intruder into one's conscience, nor an upholder of social order, nor an agitator in political issues. Do not give up on the inner essential truth of Christ and His Church, because of the blunderings of Her Visible Head and members. I have had to learn to appreciate and make use of the good, beautiful and just aspects of the unchanging divine nature of the Church, whilst taking ''cum grano salis'' the human aspects of the Church. One can and must be true to both Christ and to oneself.

  8. Get thee to a monastery and get thee elected as Abbot-the best way to enforce orthopraxy. Teach and transmit by example.

  9. Albertus, I would be genuinely interested to know how you came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is "the entirety of those churches where the Apostolic succession is maintained"? I am struggling with the question which seems to underpin that idea (reconciliation of the idea of the Church with the reality of the present state of the Roman Catholic Church). If you (or indeed other commenters who have an opinion) have the time and the inclination, drop me an email?: christopher(dot)kay(at)mac(dot)com.

  10. "Most probably we are in Eden still. It is only our eyes that have changed."

    Perhaps some words to consider, whether relevant to the above post or not.