How the Old Mass came to Balham.

From the Catholic Herald:

“…Over the past quarter of a century St Bede’s has become one of the great Catholic parishes of London, to be ranked, so far as traditional liturgy is concerned, with Spanish Place, Maiden Lane and even the Brompton Oratory.

St Bede’s rise in the world can be traced back to something that happened on Fort Lauderdale Beach in January 1994. Fr Christopher Basden, then 41, was on the beach with some priest friends. They were on R&R, and talk turned to Klaus Gamber, the late German priest-liturgist whose The Reform of the Roman Liturgy had recently been published. Gamber’s book is a compelling account of the rupture created by the liturgical fidgets during the Second Vatican Council and, even more so, in its wake…” (n.b.: it was Fr. Gambier in The Reform who opined that “turning altars around did more damage to Catholic identity than anything else after the Council”. Fr. Z (among others) has written a lot about this, he has an interesting synopsis here – TC)

The Herald continues (my emphasis),

“…Not long after Pope Benedict XVI released Summorum Pontificum in 2007 and freed all priests to use the old rite, Fr Christopher restored the old custom of celebrating Mass, whether old or new, ad orientem (with the priest facing the altar and God rather than the people). That was a big and brave move, but it turned out not to be especially controversial. There was only one official complaint, from a member of the parish council. It was dealt with amicably. “Most people didn’t notice the difference,” says Fr Christopher…

Here's a couple of take-aways:

1. Who the priest faces during Mass, whether it be the congregation or God, is not dictated by the liturgical form. Both the Old Order of the Mass and the New Order of the Mass can be said ad orientem. The priest facing the people (“versus populi”) is dictated by recent custom and political pressure. Nothing more.

2. The laity cannot restore the Old Rite. We do not have the power or the authority. Only the priests can do this. It is the priest, not the layman, who decides how the Mass will be done.

3. What the laity can (and must) do is support the priests who are willing to use the Extraordinary Form with our time, talent and, yes, treasure (meaning dollars).

St Bede Clapham Park.jpg
St Bede Clapham Park Interior.jpg

So, for those interested, here is the website for St. Bede Catholic Church in London.

Curate, ut valeatis.