Sunday 5 January 2014

My Father on Luther and Heenan

In a previous post, I mentioned my father's quoting of Cardinal Heenan (which leapt out at me for reasons I think I made clear).  I have just read what preceded it in his notebook, which is a French quotation of something Luther wrote.  This explains, quite graphically, the impact of the Heenan quotation on my Father

'Toutefois, afin d'arriver sûrement et heureusement au but, il faudrait conserver certaines cérémonies de l'ancienne messe pour les faibles, qui pourraient être scandalisés par le changement trop brusque.'

(My translation: Anyway, in order to be sure of happily arriving at our goal, it would be necessary to preserve certain aspects of the immemorial Mass for the sake of the weak, who might be scandalised by too abrupt a change.) 

Given that context, it is easy to understand why my father reacted so strongly to Cardinal Heenan's admission that the changes to the Mass were introduced gradually, because otherwise 'You would have been shocked.'

As I read my father's notes, I am increasingly aware of the real anguish that he (and doubtless many others) experienced as the Mass (and as they saw it, the Faith) they had known and loved was re-fashioned.

A later note (May 1975) reads:

I am convinced that the Church is in the power of men who wish to destroy it. They are engaged in substituting a new ecumenical religion for the Catholic Faith, and in aligning the Church with Communism.

The proper authority of the Pope and bishops is fettered by 'collegiality.' Law is disregarded.

The whole structure of Catholic thought - theology and its philosophical basis - is discarded. Heresy is everywhere permitted to be taught. The Dutch Catechism is almost everywhere the basis of official teaching.

A spurious ecumenism has everywhere destroyed Catholic consciousness of the 'One True Church.'

The teaching and disciplinary authority of the Church is in abeyance - except as against 'Traditionalists.'

The new liturgy is intended to substitute a Protestant communion service for the Mass.

I am not obliged to 'obey' such authorities.


To his credit, the depth of his disillusion with the Church was not clear to me as I grew up. I was taught  to respect the Holy Father and the bishops, and to reverence the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, and my spiritual Mother.

But I do find that his notes demonstrate the real spiritual struggle of someone who was an adult convert to the Faith, and who felt severely let down.  Some of the context surrounding all this (as well as the wider changes in the Church) was the fact that he had entrusted his daughters to the nuns and his sons to the monks for their education, and found that they had not honoured that trust.  


Bookclubber said...

The statement by the Bishops of England on the liturgy may be found in the Table online archive at:

Ben Trovato said...

Thanks, Bookclubber.

I have updated the relevant post with the relevant passage from that statement. Very helpful and enlightening: and as I note, I think that my father was proved correct on the substantial issue by the Holy Father Emeritus!