Friday, April 24, 2009

Bread-worship in Cumbria

Update: The Tablet has issued a 'clarification': 'We wish to make it clear that the events described in the letter "An Act of Memory" (11 April) did not occur in the parish of Our lady of the Wayside, Grasmere, Cumbria.'

Well, did they happen anywhere else? And why was the letter published?

Update (13/04/09): see comments: the letter may be a hoax. That would indeed be bizarre.

Local action, please (12/04/09).
No doubt this will come to the attention of Bishop Patrick O'Donaghue of Lancaster, which includes Cumbria, but Catholics of his diocese should express their concern. Email him:

St Jean Viannay said that if a parish lacked a priest for 20 years, people would start worshiping animals. In Cumbria, they have done better. Lacking a priest, they have started worshiping bread.

It is not entirely clear what sacramental theology the writer of this letter has; no doubt it is very confused. At one point she seems to have a magical attitude: if you copy the priest's actions, or some of them, the trick will be done. But the underlying attitude is that you can have 'Holy Communion' without an ordained priest, by the exercise, no doubt, of the 'priesthood of the laity'. Why stop there? If you don't need a priest, why do you need a valid Eucharistic Prayer, valid matter (the hosts), or indeed any reference to Jesus Christ? At the moment all these things evoke certain 'feelings' in this congregation, but these will wear off in time.

This is an excellent illustration of the Holy Father's warning that the steps taken to deal with the shortage of priests are undermining the priesthood and leading to further falls in vocations. Leaving aside the appalling sacrilege and idolatry being committed in this Catholic church in Cumbria, this kind of thing is an attack on the very nature of the priesthood. It follows naturally from the institution of lay-led eucharistic services, and these really must stop.

Letter in The Tablet, 11/04/09: Just before our 10 a.m. Sunday Mass, John, one of our eucharistic ministers, explained that our priest had phoned to say that he had trouble with his car and would not be able to get to us. The priest had asked that John lead us in a Liturgy of the Word and then distribute Holy Communion from the tabernacle. Veronica, our other eucharistic minister, then came forward to say that she had taken Holy Communion to the housebound parishioners on Saturday and she thought that there was only one small consecrated host left in the tabernacle.

We had a brief discussion about what we could do. One gentleman said we should just listen to the readings and then go home. A lady suggested we place the one consecrated host on the altar and have a short period of exposition. Another gentleman suggested that we say the rosary. And then a lady spoke up and said “Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me’.” We asked her what she had in mind and she explained. And so we listened to the Sunday readings. The eucharistic ministers placed sufficient altar breads, the chalice with wine and a little water on the altar as we have so often seen done by the priest. Then, in unison, we read the second Eucharistic Prayer. We said the Lord’s Prayer, exchanged the sign of peace and shared in Holy Communion. The ministers cleaned the sacred vessels and we all prayed for God’s blessing on each other before leaving.

We have a midweek Mass on Wednesday – when we look forward to explaining to our priest what we felt able to do.

Michelle Street
Lower Grasmere, Cumbria


mainza said...

This event IF it happened, did not happen in Grasmere. the address that the letter writer Michelle Street gives.
There is no 10 am parish Mass in the parish never was.
The Mass in Glenriding in the afternoon is sometimes abandonned because no priest can come over the Kirkstone pass. There is no midweek Mass in Glenridding. the Blessed Sacrament is not reserved in Glenridding and there are very very few sick communions there.
It is possible that Michelle Street is a mischief maker and the letter is a hoax. More fool Tablet though if it did not check.

mainza said...

Bishop Patrick is well aware of this letter. He is not aware of any sacrilege in Grasmere.
The events in the letter could not have happened in Gramere parish. Here in the Lake District we suspect a hoax on the Tablet to create trouble.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen