Sunday, 25 March 2012

Catholic Melbourne - same as Catholic Westminster

It may seem presumptive to have been in Australia for only 9 days and to be offering a view on what's what as far as the Faith is concerned.

But, on reflection, I find that church affairs are really just as they are in the UK.
On the surface, at any rate, and that is all that I am qualified to comment on.

The city Church of St Francis - the oldest Church in the State of Victoria -
but why the empty cross? How sad.

There is a dearth of Latin Masses in and around Melbourne (a la Westminster) and even St Patrick's Cathedral only offers an EF Mass on Wednesdays at 5.30pm.

The Church of St Francis, right in the city centre and surrounded by high rise office blocks, has no Latin Masses on offer which is a great pity as it is a beautiful church that appears to be busy with the faithful coming and going throughout the day.

There is a lack of statues in the Cathedral which always makes me feel a shade uncomfortable but then, St David's in Cardiff (Old South Wales) is also imageless, more or less.

One difference that is noticeable is that the wearing of the mantilla seems much more the custom here, even by the non traditional faithful.

The mainstay of traditionalism in Melbourne is the Church of St Aloysius, in the suburb of Caulfield North.

Here the altar is ad orientum and I found myself wondering if the Ordinary Form of Mass was also celebrated in this way. I was enlightened after the 8am EF Mass when a modern altar was wheeled in from the wings - a complete reversal of how it is in England and Wales, and a welcome one at that.

But I do have one grouse (and that applies also to churches in Great Britain).
It is the issue of being acoustically challenged when the sound system is so basic and pitched at high volume that good sermons literally fall on deaf ears. Or deafened ears.

Does the parish priest ever sit in a pew and listen to one of his brother priests preach?
They must not. If they did so they would surely make haste to employ the services of a professional sound engineer to put in a decent system.
How sad it is for wise words to be so unintelligible that, instead of uplifting the soul a thin red mist is engendered.
Older churches were designed and built with the natural amplification of the human voice in mind; they cannot easily take a modern speaker system that bounces the sound waves off a thousand surfaces.

SSPX priests, if I remember correctly, tend to despise sound systems and use their voices to effect, the way that God intended perhaps. It adDs a lot to a sermon if the deliverer has to inject intonations and volume at varying pitches. It makes it hard to deliver monosyllabic homilies.

Please accept these comments as a shallow view on Catholic life here in the Diocese of Melbourne; for a really in depth appreciation please watch out for a post from Kate Edwards (Australia Incognita) as I believe she is working on a report.

It is almost six years since we were last in Melbourne and the number of EF Masses and churches that offered them has shrunk.
Not a point for the brick by brick file I'm afraid; but it does go to show that the battle for the reform of the reform must go on and that the pace should, if anything, be increased.


  1. That sanctuary looks very sad...very "Good Friday".

  2. I'm a traditionalist and I applaud the lack of tacky statues in the Cathedral. Can we not move beyond the lurid plaster aesthetic and recapture the Church's ancient iconographic tradition? The marble statue of Our Lady in St Francis is not that bad but most of the rest can smashed to pieces as far as I'm concerned.


  3. Statues do not have to be tacky.

  4. No, but they most often are.


  5. Welcome to the city I have loved since i can remember-Melbourne- a smaller verison of L<ondon i was once told!!
    St Gerard's in North Dandenkng will have a EF Mass at 7am this coming Sunday and St phillips North Blackburn will have one at 9am this Saturday -as it does every Saturday at this time.
    I was received into the Church at st aloysisus and due to work often cannot get there during the week- i live some distance away-but attend OF Mass at the Cathedral on sundays

  6. Thanks Mathias, Australian hospitality is legendary.

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