|History in the making. Archbishop Levebvre and Fr Baker in discussion together.|
Father Huw Thwaites is one, Fathers Clifton and Lessiter are two more, now venerable in their old age.
And, I have no doubt that our blogging priests will join that small band when their efforts are viewed through an historical perspective.
But there was one, one outstanding priest who followed in the footsteps of St John Fisher by standing firm and alone when all around him was turning to modernism and decay.
Father Oswald Baker of Downham Market in Norfolk was that man.
He swam against the tide rather than with it.
For a while he declared UDI in his rural parish and locked out those who, in his words, wished to "put Holy Mother Church in a boiler suit" - to lock away the beauty, piety and reverence of the old Mass in exchange for a pale Protestantised service that would not have been out of place in the Britain of Queen Elizabeth the First.
As the pressure on Fr Baker mounted he retreated to the presbytery (which he refused to give up) and took to celebrating the Latin Mass in a village hall.
Of course, then (I am talking of the early 1970s) he had a good following of country folk who wanted the Latin Mass and only the Latin Mass. They had not been scared off by bullying and talk of the old Mass being 'banned'. They formed a group called 'The 1570 Society' in support of their priest.
And why? Because they had a good shepherd; one who did not desert his flock but who stayed with them to lead them out of the desert.
H/T to John Whitehead for his post that touched on Fr Baker (HERE) and his link to Joe Shaw's post.
Joe Shaw describes Fr Baker as "notorious." That's not a word that I would use.
"Heroic" or "Outstanding" maybe, but never notorious.
Tragically, Fr Baker, in the end, became so isolated that he de-camped to the Sedevacantists.
Ah, how we love to condemn.
Such a move to us today seems like madness but, of course then, to Fr Baker, it may have been the only glimmer of light (a false light) that he could aim for.
Spare a prayer for this great man.
There are some priests alive today who were inspired to follow in his footsteps as far as offering the TLM was concerned and, in due time, he may inspire and enthuse young seminarians who would do well to adopt Fr Baker's standard of piety.
There was a recording made, on cassette, of a sung Mass from Downham Market and I am fortunate enough to possess a copy.
It carried a fine sermon from Fr Baker, part of which is copied here (h/t to David Forster, a commentator from Once I was a Clever Boy blog).
"As Our Lord used beautiful parables to veil His precious truths, so Latin keeps a decent and beautiful veil over what is enacted by the priest at the altar. To read the Epistle and Gospel in English is to lift that veil somewhat, without yet casting it aside, bringing everything down to the level of the commonplace, exposing all to the general gaze. The truth about the Canon of the Mass, whose English version has been so hotly disputed, is that it most probably just cannot be satisfactorily translated out of Latin into any other language suitable for public recitation aloud. Does that really worry anybody? The Latin Mass has always been loved as it is, without question available in English if wanted, in bi-lingual missals, or if they prefer, those at Mass have always been free to pray their own prayers.
"Centuries of Latin has not, that anyone knows, alienated any soul, or caused charity to grow cold in any. The Church has kept the Catholics of the world united by the use of a single language, and if that bond goes, not only unity, but much else besides is immediately imperilled."