06 October 2011

Day One

A fairly easy drive, with the exception of some motion sickness from the baby and one of the younger girls.  Apparently, 12-passenger maxivans aren't built with race quality suspension; this sad fact, combined with traveling over Oklahoma-maintained US routes, can give for a level of smooth and steady ride that competes with the Titanic.

Luckily for Sharon and me, the hotel has a free happy hour.  The eldest paid for the drive by babysitting for a half-hour while we got somewhat happy.

So, what does this have to do with Judith's Marriage?  Well, you'll have to make your own connections, but here is the first excerpt of the trip--appropriately enough, from the author's foreword:


I was ordained priest on March 31, 1940.  In June of that year I was appointed to Slough, an industrial suburb of London, where I founded St. Anthony's parish in the dormitory of the Trading Estate.  In September 1954 I was moved to the parish of St. Edmund at Bury St. Edmunds, the County Town of West Suffolk, where I remained until Saturday, November 29, 1969.  I resigned and retired as from midnight on that day.  Why?  Because on the following morning, the First Sunday of Advent, the New Ordo of Mass was supposed to come into force.

"But surely," one may say, "you were being rather intransigent over a bit of mumbo-jumbo?"  Perhaps.  But it happened to be the touchstone of a basic issue.  This issue was that the new reforms in general and of the liturgy in particular were based on the assumption that the Catholic laity were a set of ignorant fools.  They practice out of tribal custom; their veneration of the Cross and the Mass was totem worship; they were motivated by nothing more than their fear of Hell; their piety was superstition and their loyalty habit.  But the most gratuitous insult of all was that most Catholics had a Sunday religion which in no way affected their weekday behaviour.  This monstrous falsehood was-- and still is-- maintained by bishops and priests who, for the most part, have never been adult laymen.  Every day the Catholic workman had to put up with the jeers of colleagues, as the more educated with their sneers.  Every night they took their religion home with them.

I am not in a position to judge other priests' parishioners.  I am, however, in a position to judge what were my own.  No words are adequate for me to express my admiration for the conscious faith and piety of my flock, both in Slough and in Bury.  This is where the trouble lay.  The reforms were based on criticism; I was unwilling to take any action that might make me appear to criticize the wonderful people whom I was ordained to serve.  I was perfectly conscious that I learned more about God from them than they were likely to learn from me.

[...] ... I was unwilling to be instrumental in any change which might cause scandal to my wonderful parishioners.

What passes belief is that I know of no book or article published in the last twenty years [SLC Note: this was written in 1987] extolling the virtues and commiserating the sufferings of the Catholic laity.  If they dared to remonstrate they were merely told that they were divisive, disloyal and disobedient.  Hence the present novel.  Its purpose is to show that at any rate one priest appreciates the predicament into which the laity have been put.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to interrupt your journey, but I have an off-topic question. On a recent visit to STL, I noticed (at 2 different churches) "O Mary conceived without sin..." is added after the Fatima prayer when praying the Rosary.

Growing up in STL in the 80s/90s we never did this, but it seems to have become the custom there. I'm curious what the basis for this practice is, since it is not done anywhere else.

Can you fill me in?


CU said...

Dear Timman,

Where can we find a copy of Judith's Marriage? I have been looking but all too expensive. Thanks.

Alison said...


I read this book in the late 80's and it was hard to find then. My suggestion is to read "Mitre and Crook" by the same priest. I liked it better.

I am curious to what the blogger thinks of the end of "Judith's Marriage." My older sister and I had a discussion about it at the time.

thetimman said...

I can't give any info about acquiring Judith's marriage, it is on loan to me from a friend.

Alison, I enjoyed the book immensely, and I liked the ending--though I doubt the medical accuracy of the situation.

Of course, there is more that can be said, and maybe at the end of a series of excerpts I may post on it.

RJH, I have never seen that done. Sorry!