Monday, 20 July 2009

Soft-boiled traditionalist ...

There was once a time when I used to spend a lot of time discussing the liturgy and debating with 'integristes'. At the time, my friends tell me, I was spikier than I am now, but I always managed to stay within the 'una sancta' and keep my love for dear John Paul II and for his Catechism, a document that made a big impression on me when I was a university student.

I remember about 10 years ago an English priest friend called me a "soft-boiled traditionalist." And I hope that is the way I have remained.

I used to spend a lot of time online trying to convert Protestants to Catholicism and Lefebvrists to the Catholic mainstream in the early days of the internet; and then I decided to move on and concentrate on real life. It is great, however, to see that there are still people with the energy for this kind of thing. Here is a one-stop shop of arguments regarding positions of the Society of St Pius X: http://jloughnan.tripod.com/chetshet.htm . I came upon it today quite by accident, and learnt a thing or two.

There are so many battles to fight, aren't there? The hardest one, and the most important, is for one's own soul.

That's a lesson that the beleaguered Legionaries of Christ are facing up to, as they contemplate the truth that sometimes very good work can be done by people with - it would appear - bad faith.

It's also a lesson for Catholic teachers, like me, who live a life of constant activity. We get caught up in our good work and forget why we are doing it. And then when periods of rest come along, we don't know what to do and have forgotten how to pray. It always takes me a couple of weeks to adjust to the holidays, every time they come along. At least the summer holidays are long enough to get the adjusting done and spend some fruitful time in that contemplative mode. One discovers things in that quiet holiday mode: the saddest of them is one's own spiritual emptiness.
I shall be praying to the Holy Spirit that wonderful prayer of renewal, the Veni Sancte Spiritus, over the next few weeks. It always makes me cry when I hear it sung on the Chartres pilgrimage (something I missed for the first time in a decade this year.)

Let the Great Comforter give me the shake-up I need to keep my soul on the right track:

Come, Holy Spirit, and send down from heaven the ray of your light.
Come, father of the poor, come, giver of gifts, come, light of hearts.
Best consoler, sweet host of the soul, sweet refresher.
Rest in work, cooling in heat, comfort in crying.
O most blessed light, fill the innermost hearts of your faithful.
Without your power nothing is in man, nothing innocent.
Clean what is dirty, water what is dry, heal what is wounded.
Bend what is rigid, heat what is cold, lead what has gone astray.
Grant to your faithful who trust in you, your sevenfold holy gift.
Grant us the reward of virtue, grant us final salvation, grant us eternal joy.