Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A.H.M. reditus

Melancholicus is still racing through Martyr of Ritualism. He is right near the end of it now.

In his declining years, in the autumn of 1884, Father Mackonochie went so far ‘Romish’ as to preach, at the invitation of certain of his brother clergy, a retreat for priests.

The experience was not altogether a happy one for Mackonochie, for he was conscious of the failing of his intellect due to the fatigue of a life given to extraordinarily hard work among the urban poor, not to mention the seemingly endless prosecutions that placed so great a strain on the last twenty-five years of his life. His ability to preach and deliver conferences was not what it was, and as might be expected he was embarrassed by this deterioration, even if he took it in a spirit of Christian resignation. He was not an old man—he had not yet turned sixty—but he was worn out from his labours nonetheless, with the diminished vigour of a man at least twenty years older. His friend, bishop Chinnery-Haldane of Argyll and the Isles, recalled that there had been “a certain amount of hesitation and perhaps a little confusion at times, but what he said was always helpful and edifying”.

In any case, the retreat was judged a success by those who attended it, and would have been followed up with another that December had Mackonochie been both willing and able.

But reading this episode made Melancholicus realise what he probably needs most right now, namely a retreat.

It is a long time since he went on retreat. Retreats at the beginning of every semester were mandatory when Melancholicus was in seminary. These were week-long affairs, preached by a variety of persons, sometimes handled by more than one person simultaneously. Some of them were good, others mediocre. The last retreat he attended was in January 2005, at the commencement of his final semester in clericatu. But Melancholicus would now welcome the opportunity to go on retreat, with daily Mass (clean, please, or better still, Trad), silence, spiritual conferences (wholesome and solid, based on the writings of the saints, not on dubious fluff about “our brokenness” and “healing”), self-examination, and of course confession of sins.

Since leaving seminary in 2005, he has neglected the practice of going on retreat very properly. This is due in large part to the non-availability of opportunities in Ireland to go on an authentically Catholic retreat. Just take a look at the website for this sty of heretical nonsense and the reader will have some idea of the kind of drivel on offer. Expensive drivel, too. Look at the prices they charge for a weekend of the spiritual equivalent of tinted steam, and from which one would not likely come away a better person, with grace in one’s soul, and with resolutions to acquire some lacking virtue, or conquer some besetting vice. This place might possibly be the worst stronghold of self-centred, pseudo-Christian New-Agery in the country, but it is probably mimicked to a greater or lesser degree by other establishments and religious houses who offer to the public such retreats and days of recollection.

Some rare trad retreats have occasionally been preached in Ireland over the last few years; one must keep one’s ears close to the ground to get wind of such in the secretive world in which trads are by force of circumstance compelled to operate. Happily, there are rumours of such a retreat being planned for next spring in a Cistercian monastery by a certain industrious young man whom Melancholicus shall not embarrass by divulging his name; but it will be an excellent opportunity for spiritual spring cleaning, especially in view of the fact that Melancholicus shall be entering the married state a couple of months later.

Should any of Melancholicus’ Irish readers be interested in attending such, he shall post the details as soon as they become available.

No comments: