What is it about hospital chapels?
To-day, having for a change read the parish bulletin, I noticed that St Luke's Hospital (recently, like St Vincent's, incorporated into Calvary Health Care, based in Hobart and somehow carrying on the charism of the dear sisters who used to run it in the olden days) has a Mass on Thursdays at 3.30 pm: so I went along.
I am sure that, but for my obedient and automatic standing and kneeling at the appropriate points, the few gathered for the Liturgy would have sat like lumps throughout.
(It may appear judgemental and nasty-sounding of me to - quite rationally, given my experiences - assume so, but under the I'm certain very well-meaning unintentional confusion about posture lies the assumption common to many if not most these days that somehow the rubrical necessity is to be informal as possible, and that a small gathering without any ceremony is in fact allegedly closer to the example of Our Lord and the Apostles in the Upper Room, and therefore Mass sitting about in bean-bags, with no vestments and so forth is per se more authentic, what Luther termed more real and evangelical, than what they deride as "bells and smells" and probably gay liturgy - the last criticism is particularly Australian, stems from our cultural cringe, albeit does have I will admit some truth to it in certain circles, yet is strange coming from liberals who presumably are less opposed to such immoral lifestyles!)
I feel sorry for Fr Kene, our local Nigerian priest-on-loan; apparently he, together with his confreres elsewhere in Tasmania, would prefer to dress as they do in Nigerian, in clerical outfits with Roman collars, but were told that "we don't do that here" - and I suspect that they have been warned off being too Catholic in other subtle ways, also. No criticism meant of them personally of course; their preaching is excellent and orthodox. But the cult of self-reinforcing anti-Roman mediocrity that reigns in the inward-looking Tasmanian presbyterate does not want to be discomfited: as I remarked at the time of the Tampa controversy (then-P.M. Howard's "Pacific solution" of taking boat-borne asylum seekers to detention camps on offshore islands or elsewhere), while the clergy here were vocal in opposing the Government on the refugee issue, if it had been a boatload of priests coming those same priests here would have urged them to be machine-gunned without mercy or pity.
It's the dog-in-the-manger, spiritually abortifacient (in Bp Fisher's words), we-want-the-Church-to-die, almost self-hating attitude of the local priests that causes many of the faithful, including myself now I'm back, to simply retreat from involvement in the archdiocese. The liberals have seen all their hopes blighted, and think that the disaster since the Council is the result of it not being fully implemented - as a complete rupture with the bad old days - by the nasty old Popes since. This priestly generation (well, it's really a very old generation!) must die before rebuilding can occur: at least poor Adrian only has two years before retirement. After all, the priest in Kingston parish - a strange example of apparent lack of Catholic faith; he preached in my hearing that Christ, when He died on Calvary, "didn't know He would rise again" - delights in telling his bewildered parishioners and parish councillors that he will be the last priest the parish will have (a large collection of the still-expanding southern suburbs of Hobart), and asserts they had best prepare for a priestless future (à la the Russian Old Believers perhaps? how unconsciously ironic).
Thanks be, in the Novus Ordo to-day is the feast of St Barnabas Apostle, the "Son of Encouragement", that faithful and greathearted man picked out by the Holy Ghost: by his name, he reminds me of the familiar passage from II Corinthians i, 3-5 which insists upon that which I live by, that it is in the God of all comfort we place our trust, and not in sinful men, of the sort who, were the Church a human institution only, would indubitably bring her to utter destruction:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort: Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, * that we also may be able to comfortthem who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us; so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.
[* Here ends the Little Chapter at ferial Vespers.]