AN OPEN LETTER
Dear Father Tim
May I offer you congratulations for having acted with an almost Anglican cunning in planning the introduction of the EF at Blackfen. By situating it at 10.30, you ensure that it will appeal to those who like a bit of a Sunday lie-in and then Mass before the cooking of lunch or a midday visit to the pub. A fair number will thus become accustomed to the EF without even noticing. No wonder your malcontents are hopping mad. And you will have riled them all the more by your policy of careful explanation. I'm sure you didn't really expect them to listen; the last thing bigots want is a careful, painstaking, pastoral explanation of something which they have decided irrationally to hate. By affording such a catechesis, you have cruelly deprived them of the complaint that " he doesn't talk to people". You have stripped them of a favourite mantra! Crafty bugger! Incidentally, I would have liked to be a fly-on-the-wall when you replied to the suggestion your area bishop undoubtedly will have made, that you move your EF Mass to a less comfortable time-slot.
We Anglican Catholics have well over a century's experience of introducing what we used to call "the Western Rite". Quite often this was done overnight; as an interregnum ended the new incumbent sprang the EF on the parish on his very first Sunday. Fr Bernard Walke did this at S Hilary's in Cornwall; and so did Fr Sandys Wason at nearby Cury and Gunwalloe. You could, perhaps learn from their experiences. Fr Wason's bishop announced that he was coming to say Mass in the parish and to sort things out. Probably surmising that his Lordship did not intend to use a rite that included the Third Confiteor, Father contrived that he was already well into his Tridentine Missa Cantata by the time the prelate turned up. The latter announced to the gaping sightseers that he would await the end of the Vicar's Mass, and then celebrate his own. He underestimateed the Anglo-Catholic appetite for Marian devotion. Immediately after Mass, Fr Wason began Solemn Rosary ... not one of those Irish Rosaries with the laity starting the Sancta Maria before the priest has got to the fructus ventris tui, but a slow, meditative Anglican Rosary in which, at the end of each Mystery, Father preached extensively upon it. Eventually the Pontiff gave up and went home. When Fr Wason - after delivering what may have been the most exhaustive treatise on the Coronation of our Lady in the history of Christian homiletics - finally emerged into the setting sun, he dismissed the waiting Elena Curtis with the information that, since he was of course fasting, he was off to have his breakfast.
Wason's Cornish critics did score some points against him, most notably when they dumped the putrescent corpse of a donkey on the Presbytery doorstep.
Dear Father, your Anglican admirers pray fervently that the Blackfen tabletistas are not encumbered with a superfluity of donkeys.
Your affectionate brother priest