This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 9 August 2015

QUAERITUR: What do I do if my priest is a loony?

QUAERITUR: For the last 2 weeks we have had a visiting priest, while Fr M is away in Barbados (or it may be Grimsby, I don't know). This one started badly, with "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,and the love of God,and the consolation of the Holy Spirit be with you all." Consolation? Have we come to a service of Holy Consolation, then? Still, it could have been worse, he might have said "Confusion" (which was obviously in his mind) or even "Conflagration of the Holy Smoke..."

loony priest

A loony priest.

In the Catholic Church, the service books are there for a purpose. Consider the history of Bishop Arthur Roche: it turns out that, after all he was neither a retired figure-skater nor a cinnabon-addict (these were little stories invented by an obscure journalist called Damian Thompson). (In this spirit of honesty I must also admit that the claim that my Auntie Moly drank a bottle of Damian's hair-restorer was also slightly exaggerated.)

Back to Uncle Arthur. One good thing he did was to produce a new and accurate translation of the Missal, to replace the 1960s free-format fantasy on a theme that was scribbled down in a restaurant in the aftermath of Vatican II. The new translation annoys the Tablet, so it must be good. Now, if someone has bothered to provide a translation, and print it in a book, and if the bishops tell you to use it, you should at least stick to the text, Father.

Allerton Bywater church closure

+Arthur also got a reputation for closing churches. Not a Damian Thompson invention.

At three times in the service the priest is supposed to say "The Lord be with you." This wasn't good enough for Father Calamity, who insisted on saying "The Lord is with you." This is cheating, a little, as it invites the reply "And with your spirit". But he saved the worst until the end:

"The Mass is ended. Go in Peace." (Not quite right, but not too bad.)
"Thanks be to God."
"And thank you too." (WHAT???)

Pope Francis despair

A natural reaction at this stage.

FATHER E replies:

Well, there are several possible courses of action here:

(1) Walk past him as he stands outside at the end of the service, and say nothing apart from a polite "Good morning".
(2) Talk to him about his eccentric behaviour, politely pointing out that he should stick to the printed words.**
(3) Potter around after the service, lighting votive candles, until the priest has gone.

**In Anglican churches, remoulding the liturgy in your own image may be perfectly OK, of course. Still, I do know a Baptist who, after attending an Anglican service, cornered Rowan Williams and taxed him with some alleged theological error in his sermon. Good luck with that one.

You will probably find that (3) is the least likely to endanger your soul. If Fr M is still away next week, you may wish to try a different church. Of course, this is sometimes considered to be provocative behaviour, and may lead to Fr Catastrophe's leaving the priesthood altogether and buying a rainbow cat, but you are not really to blame here.

multicoloured cat

The sort of cat that may suit a wayward priest.


  1. "What do I do if my Priest is a loony?"


  2. I shall come down to Notting Hell next Sunday, sit in the front row; glare at him from under my mantilla, tut and roll my eyes during the sermon, and rattle my rosary at him if he commits Eucharistic Prayer IV.

    I also have a de-luxe package of priest-intimidation which involves making the entire communion queue fall over like dominoes as I kneel to receive, and bearing down upon him like a galleon in full sail after Mass and picking holes in his sermon.

    For the "August Special" I will also sneak upstairs play the abandoned organ then ignore the hymnboard and play "Sweet Sacrament Divine" and "Faith of Our Fathers" where he was expecting "Walk in the Light" and "Kumbayah".

  3. Please be advised: The latest amendment list to the Mass has been issued.

    Please make the following changes to the appropriate documents:

    "And with your spirit" should now read, "You're Welcome"

    "Sanctus" should now read, "Cool".

    "The Sign of the Cross" should be replaced with, "High Five" (High Three at Easter).

    Hope this helps.

    1. John. You don't know how spot-on you are. Recently, I had to attend a Novus Ordo Mass, due to circumstances. When the Priest called on all the young children to come up to the Sanctuary and give him "High Fives", I groaned.

      This was then followed by three rounds of applause by the whole Congregation (not me), who wanted "to let the children know that we think their drawings and paintings are great".

      Awful. Absolutely, awful.

  4. It's the August Locum Syndrome here. When I was a nurse, we used to dread August, when all the consultants would head off to their yachts, or second homes in Tuscany, or wherever the wealthy go, and the Hospitals would hire these strange people with dubious qualifications ("I was personal physician to the Sultan of Swat") and even more dubious practices (I have known more than one locum surgeon require an extra nurse so that he had someone to hold up the necessary textbook in front of him as he operated). Evidently something similar operates in the Church in the UK, except that I doubt the good Fr M has a private yacht or a second home.

    We've got one visiting at the moment. He's driving the sacristan crazy and the flower ladies have gone home in a collective huff, so there must be some good in him.

    1. Sacristan ???

      SACRISTAN !!!

      You lot will be accused of being "ELITIST", soon.

  5. 'Potter around after the service, lighting votive candles, until the priest has gone'

    I am so pleased to know I am not the only person to do that.

  6. Quaeritur : What do I do if my blogger is a loony ?

    hmmmmmmmm dat's a tough one ...

    dere's all kinds of loonies, dere is !!

    As we all know, loonytiarthromedulloarmpitism is caused by de infloomination of de brain from readin too many posts of de bruvver Eccles.

    is simples en.

    U just remov de brain, den no mor loonytiarthromedulloarmpitism.

    U can keep it in a little jar.

    That way, u can just pop it back in if needed.

    Dat's wot I do.

    I keep it in my cupboard.

    It's safe dere, nobody looks into my cupboard.

    I never do.

  7. Dis is an ebil blogg and it should be band by de Police, though only after dey sing de Evry Breth U Take.

    Even though only I take de breth, and u do not take de breth.