Saturday, July 01, 2017
Damien Ashby rip
It will be the first time I have been able to celebrate in the Old Rite for almost six months, for me it is bit more of a strain, physically and mentally, more demanding than the Novus Ordo. I feel I will be fit enough to get through it without being propped up by servers.
Damien helped me to learn the Old Rite, and to love Low Mass. Like many of those who were attached to the Older form of Mass Damien suffered for it. For years he was alienated from his own parish Church which was just down the hill from his home, he went to Mass where he could find it either in the Old Rite in London or in the SSPX chapel here in Brighton or in an emergency some place where it was likely to be less of a problem than somewhere else., For him Summorum Pontificum was a liberating document and it was great joy when we were able to offer the Old Mass here, rather than being an oddity or even a threat he was able to be an ordinary parishioner and to become part of our parish, which was important to him and to me. When I was fit enough to offer an evening weekday Latin Mass he always came into the house afterwards for a drink and to eat my bananas, I never quite worked out why he never seemed to have his own.
When he was teaching me he would rather gently would make comments like, "I could be wrong, which I invariable am, your Reverence, [then would follow a longish story of him being wrong in the past] but most priests tend to say that prayer silently, but I could be wrong".
Though he long given up a bowler hat and a tightly furled umbrella of a post-war Civil Servant at the pensions department of the Ministry of Health, he always retained and rejoiced in his attention to detail, some might call it pedantry. Having dinner in his home was an experience, he would first boil the potatoes, and when they were done move on the next task and then the next, then the next, every thing done one at a time, and he would worry that it was done properly. For some years he had been secretary of the Latin Mass Society during its more turbulent times, after the excommunication of Lefebrvian bishops where careful and meticulous letters to bishops and members Damien's sense of order and detail were very important, it was a time when everything had to be kept in its proper place, the ancient Rite was one thing, the SSPX and their followers another.
His love of low Mass, probably was part of his sense of order, like his dinner preparations liturgy has its parts The Mass, then music and ceremonial but separate and with The Mass stripped to its bones taking priority. As with the Mass so with the rest of life, everything had its place, but separate, filed away in its proper place.
It will be interesting at his Requiem seeing how the various strands of his life come together, some meeting for the first time.
Pray for Damien who has moved on from one part of existence, his life on earth ended, now he stands before God himself pleading for a merciful judgement.
I am glad that he had in his meticulous way had instructed his cleaner on what to do in the event of death: call the priest to anoint him on his deathbed, I am glad I was that priest and was able to give the final absolution to one who I had nourished at the altar, and who had nourished me and given me joy in many ways.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake