Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Mass in a hidden chapel

Today we attended a Latin Mass in a tiny chapel one mile off the main road and set half way up the side of a combe in glorious Devon.
What, in Wales would be called a Cwm, a valley, in other words.

The celebrant was an elderly, frail and venerable priest.

A man bent almost double with paralysis and to whom every movement is an immense effort.

A November Mass for the Dead

Yet, the Mass that he offered had a wonderful, translucent quality about it, it was not quite of this earth.

That is partly because this priest celebrated the Mass with great dignity despite his physical restrictions.

And partly because pure goodness emanates from him.
He is also, one might say, 'untainted' by the modern Mass.

He elected, in 1970, not to continue with the incoming changes of offering the Mass in the vernacular (as we called it then) and wrote his Bishop a letter stating that: "The changes that you are implementing are aimed at destroying the Church".

Strong words from such a mild mannered man.

Since then he has tirelessly travelled Wales and England, celebrating the Mass of Ages for those who requested it.

Hearing confessions, catechizing the children, anointing the dying.

He ministers, today, to a tiny flock who attend Mass in his private chapel and he counsels seminarians and priests who are troubled by the continuing storms that affect the orthodoxy of the Faith.

While we were there he received a phone call from a very prominent priest who wished to visit him.

This is the 50th year of his priesthood and he maintains that he will continue in his ministry as long as he has the strength to do God's work.

As the Mass proceeded it seemed to me that we were transported back to the time of the Recusants and that, at any moment, we would hear the thunder of approaching hooves swiftly followed by sword hilts hammering on the door.

Such events would not have phased this priest.

After Mass we chatted over cups of tea and he mourned the fact that young priests are not following the path that he chose, the lonely one of only offering the Tridentine Latin Mass.

"They lack Faith" said Father.

"And courage, Father" we replied. "You need both Faith and courage to leave all and follow Him".

Sadly, those two qualities appear to be lacking today.

Perhaps the prospect of losing one's pension scheme overrides the prospect of losing one's soul.


  1. AT

    November’s frost
    Warmth melts the chill
    At Mass alone
    On Calvary's hill.

    Where from its heights
    Fierce, sleety, rains
    Beat down upon
    Stained-window panes.

    At the Mass of all times
    The Faith's never frozen
    "Many are called...
    But few are chosen”.

  2. He will hear those words "Well done good and faithful servant,enter though into the Joy of Thy Lord"

    This story warmed me and encouraged me greatly. We TLM people may one day sooner than later attend Mass in secret due to the hostility of the Hierarchy. Look at the disdain that many Anglicans view sacraments and BCP in the Sydney Anglican Church as one example

    1. Gervase, many thanks. I think you are right, the times are a-changing, and not for the better.

  3. Richard,
    God Bless abundantly this wonderful priest-what a blessed and great example of priesthood too!



    1. Many thanks Michael, please pray for this priest and for all priests who suffer for the true Mass (as I know you will).

  4. I can do no more than refer to your carefully chosen quote of the day. Such brave and holy men will keep the faith alive through God's grace. I pray for these isolated men every day.

    1. Thanks Genty, we owe them a great debt and, 100 years from now I am sure that they will be proclaimed as 'dry' martyrs for the Faith.

  5. I moved parishes. Where I go now the NO is celebrated by a very frail Priest. He is a good confesser. He never fails to mention sin in his sermons. His gestures are reverent and he geneflects right down,even though I think (and he has in the past) fall at any moment. He will keep his thumb and forefinger joined through the concecration and always uses a paten at Holy Communion. No Eucharistic ministers. He goes out of his way to arrange Masses for convinient times on HDOs and reminds us before of the gravity of missing Mass. This is very different from what I have been used to.I am sad that there doesnt seem to be anyone of his kind to replace him.

    1. Mummymayhem, yes, I often think that if we had not moved parishes many years ago, we might have stuck with the reverent NO that was offered each week. We moved to a parish where liturgical excesses were extreme. Three years later we elected to never willingly attend a NO again, only the TLM.
      Enjoying your blog immensely.

  6. I can well understand why priests choose to celebrate the Traditional Mass alone, but there are also courageous priests who try to do it, which also celebrating the new Mass, and sometimes with opposition. Also pray for those priests who are in religious communities who experience difficulties in offering it from their superiors, and often have to go to extraordinary lengths to celebrate it (I am one of those priests). Fr. M.

  7. Fr M, yours is a true burden no less great than that of the priest I posted about. God bless you and assuring you of my prayers.

  8. Richard, is this priest in full communion with Rome? Also I think you do a disservice here to all of those new young priests and seminarians who like to celebrate the extraordinary form

    1. PJ, I have never ever asked a priest that question. I have no reason to doubt that he is and he also must surely be fulfilling his vocation rather more than his liberal 'anything' goes brother priests.I do not believe that I am doing a disservice to young priests who celebrate the EF (and that was certainly not my intention).

    2. Thank you for the clarification Richard, as I know of priests who remained saying the vetus ordo after the council but sadly lost communion with Rome such as Fr. Oswald Baker. So I just wanted to clarify. Isn't it great we have priests like this?

    3. PJ - Fr Baker was a great man and an inspiration...until he joined the ranks of the sedevacantists. May his soul rest in peace.

  9. Rhoslyn, he is well known in Wales as he kept the old Mass alive in the 80s and 90s there.

  10. Howard, I deleted your comments because they were presumptive and impolite and also wrong.

  11. Dear Richard. Thank You for this wonderful tale. Would you please be so kind as to send me contact details for this Priest, in order that I may make a small contribution towards his upkeep ?
    My E-Mail is davidhurley@blueyonder.co.uk
    in Domino