The Continual Sacrifice: A History of the Origins of Saint Clement Parish, Ottawa 1968 - 1998 by Bernard Pothier
Reviewed by Catherine Fournier
The Continual Sacrifice is, as it says, a 'History of the Origins of Saint Clement Parish.' It does tell of the movement to begin a parish, the fund-raising, the election of a parish council, and of the currents of agreement and disagreement common to any human endeavour. It is full of photographs of First Communions, Confirmations, picnics, renovation projects and processions. If you look closely, you can see several parishioners grow up over these thirty years of photographs.
But it is so much more. It is the entertaining and engrossing tale of the struggle to preserve the Tridentine Mass in the years when the 'Spirit of Vatican Two' swept our churches bare. It tells of the heroic and successful effort to reconcile the seemingly incompatible: filial obedience to the hierarchy of the Church and the preservation of their Catholic heritage and tradition.
This quote is representative of the spirit of the parishioners and of the book:
"For a decade thereafter, parallel to the authorized Novus Ordo Mass, the region witnessed unauthorized Tridentine masses - "wildcat" Masses, as occasionally described in the press - on Sundays, and on weekday evenings as well...[a communique was issued to all pastors and administrators repeating that the only authorized Latin Mass was the Novus Ordo Mass]
...This had a positive effect in the long run, for as time passed the inevitable question of Church authority imposed itself on Catholic consciences, and many families who had previously belonged to the Latin Congregation began to reintegrate themselves and return to the Precious Blood Chapel (the home for many years of the later Saint Clement's parishioners, where the authorized Latin mass was celebrated.)Meanwhile, those who had determine upon a course of filial submission to the 1974 directives of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship did not lose heart...they persisted patiently in their hope of a better day dawning."
The Continual Sacrifice recounts the many steps in a long journey, from the first signs of disquiet in 1968, to welcome support from unexpected sources, the interesting history of their rescued altar, and the moves from one venue to another. The story finally culminates with the Latin Mass congregation's achievement after years of prayers and effort of the canonical erection of Saint Clement as a full-fledged parish in 1997.
This story could have easily have been a self-pitying tale, filled with instances of real and imagined persecution, finger-pointing and self-righteous rhetoric. It is not, and as such is a credit to both the author and the parishioners. Instead, it stands as an example and inspiration to everyone faced with trying to maintain their Catholic faith in our modern world, whether it at school, church or in the workplace.
Stay in obedience, this story urges, find others like yourself, work from within, take small steps, be patient, be joyful, and above all else, pray.
The Continual Sacrifice is available for $17.50 Canadian from:
Saint Clement's Parish,
87 Mann Avenue, Ottawa,
Ontario, Canada K1N 6Y8
Return to Reviews Page.