Monday, July 13, 2009

The Cup of Tea of Peace

["Seraphic" hmmmm...have to assign an O's P -friendly pseudonym here, I think. I'll call her...]

Janet has a very amusing post about how to actively participate in the Tea n' Snax after a Trad Mass in England. (Part of a series, I guess)

...there is a time for socialising, and it is both BEFORE and AFTER Mass, not DURING.

Some of the rudest Novusordinarian experiences I have ever had were at a Nervous Disorder Masses in England. I was shocked. I generally remain kneeling through the whole thing on the occasions when I am forced to go to them, and especially give off, as hard as I can the "please don't bother me with your annoying hand-shake o' peace" signals. But there I was, mantilla pulled down over eyes, kneeling with hands together praying [admittedly praying to be left alone] and I suddenly feel someone's clammy hand reaching under the lace, grabbing my hand and yanking it out for a shake.

"Peace be with you" she said. "It was, thanks" I replied.

And there is a place for socialising, and it is OUTSIDE the quiet House of Prayer, not INSIDE.

When forced to attend Mass at the hovel in Tattenhall, I used to escape the ear-splitting racket that was normal behaviour before Mass by standing around outside reading my Mass devotional. It unnerved them, I think.
Instead of the Kiss of Peace, Trids have the Cup of Tea of Peace,

Habit they appear to have picked up nicely from the Anglos. Anglican tea n' snax after err... the "service", was so nice and so friendly in Halifax, it almost made me start imaginging going over...well not really.
and by the end of Mass, you need it. All that active participation, that paying attention to booklet, sheet, men's schola, priest and your own interior disposition is EXHAUSTING. So off you go in the tea ladies' wake, digging once again in your wallet or bag to find a heavy coin with which to buy a copy of your favourite Catholic newspaper on the way.

Strangely, after Tridentine Masses The Tablet goes untouched

You leave the church with some trepidation, for, lo, Triddies have a reputation for being mean people. Will they beat you to death when you emerge? But no, there is John gulping down cigarette smoke as fast as he can, while talking to me...

In the parish hall, the Trids cluster around the tea table for tea or instant coffee and a biscuit and then reluctantly drift away to sit at tables in the room.

OK, important English etiquette note here for ... well, let's face it ... Americans visiting Masses in England. It's all about the approach.
This being BRITAIN, there is no forced jollity or joining of groups of strangers with a whoop and a "Hai, Ah'm Sally Sue, and Ah'm new heah!" Instead there is a lot of standing around and looking shyly at the various groupings until one has judged which grouping one might safely and politely join without embarrassment to all.


Anonymous said...

In a lightning-fast visit to London a couple of years ago, I found my way to St. James's Spanish Place for the indult Mass (as it then was). Lovely experience, esp. afterwards, where the experience of shy looks was much as you describe except that it led to an engaging conversation with an intelligent and welcoming gentleman.

At my own parish the after-EF-Mass fellowship goes on for at least an hour and has brought us many high-value friends.


Mrs McLean said...

Well, exactly. Usually you wait until someone speaks TO you, and then you're okay. And then, of course, there are the ladies pouring tea. One can always exchange comments about the weather or the beauty of the liturgy with the ladies pouring tea. And certainly eventually someone will approach you, probably the priest.

In my experience, the mores of British Trids hark back to days of yore, so it is best not to be pushy and force people to take notice of you.

Incidentally, Canadians have seen the height of parish pushiness, and that is the returned-to-Church-after-an-interesting-lapse-of-34-years gay spa owner suing his bishop before the Human Rights Commission because he was asked to refrain from being an altar boy.

Hilary, of course, knows all about it, but I am fascinated with the case because it shows the length that Some People will go to be ACCEPTED and AFFIRMED by absolutely everybody. "Accept me and give me places of honour, or I'll sue!"

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I always used the tea-lady method. They always know everyone and love to introduce you. Although I did make one English Traddie friend who just saw my mantilla and walked up to me after a NO Mass in the Wretched Hovel and said, "Do you go to the Traditional Mass?"

Been fast friends ever since. Helps to wear the uniform I guess.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

BTW Janet, while I am feeling remarkably magnanimous lately, I think I need to draw your attention to the commbox rules, linked on the sidebar.

There you will see that obvious pseudonyms are not allowed.