Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Letter to the Tablet, from 1965

The tenth station: Jesus is stripped. Fr the Church of SS Gregory & Augustine's,

My researches on the background to the petitions to save the Traditional Mass have revealed something else worthy of a wider audience: a published letter to the press by a certain Gillian Edwards. The writer had been a member of the Latin Mass Society Committee, and the letter indicates that she had been a convert and lived in Cambridge, but I don't know anything else about her. The then-Chairman of the the Latin Mass Society, Geoffrey Houghton-Brown, said this letter had more effect than anything else written at the time, so I looked it up in the archives of The Tablet.

Published in The Tablet 21st August 1965.

Dear Sir,

Your correspondents are convinced that all who love the Latin Mass must be classical scholars. This is quite untrue. Latin is so rich for us precisely because it does not tie us down to one particular limited meaning. When we hear the common and familiar phrases we know if we are glorifying God, confessing our sins or asking for mercy. Consciously they unite us with the priest, with our fellow-men, with the whole Church in space and time, praying the same words. Unconsciously they leave us free to approach God in our own way. They say for us all those things we long to say and cannot. They liberate us from ourselves as only great poetry and music can do, and combined with what used to be a charged and holy silence bring us as close to the knowledge and love of God as we are ever likely to come.

This is what Mr. [Evelyn] Waugh means by the "raising of the heart and mind to God." It is what drew many of us into the Church, a potency and depth of worship which few other Christians preserved and which we had been looking for all our lives. It is also what the Church, to our bewilderment, now appears to condemn as "private devotion" and to look on as not only worthless but sinful. Misery is not a strong enough word for what we feel.

Unfortunately those who do not share this conception of what worship should be cannot understand it. But unless it is an attitude reprehensible in itself, which I cannot believe, that is no good reason why their joy in singing hymns and reciting English prayers should deprive us of the quieter joy we used to know. Isn't there room for both?

Yours faithfully, 

Gillian Edwards, Cambridge.

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1 comment:

  1. It would be interesting to root around in the archives of The Tablet to find the letter in which, I believe, Geoffrey Houghton Brown criticised the Pius XII Holy Week rites and the 1962 John XXIII edition of the Missal as both being far removed from the Traditional and un-reformed Roman Rite. I am hesitant in writing this as I have not seen the letter but believe, on good authority, that it was published.