No, there’s nothing “ordinary” about it at all, at least, not for born and bred Melbournians. I, of course, am excluded from that category. Having been born in South Australia, where at least (acc. to Victorians) they play the right kind of football, I missed out on that multi-faith upbringing which enables Christians in Melbourne to practice two religions at once: The Faith of Jesus Christ and the Faith of Aussie Rules Football. Even former Archbishop Little was a “bi-ritualist”, declaring allegiance to both religions simultaneously.
But why is it assumed, when we go to mass in Melbourne, that all Melbournian Catholics offer oblations at both altars?
At the vigil mass in my parish on Saturday night, football was the first subject raised following the invocation, leading neatly into the examination of conscience and Kyrie Eleison at the beginning of mass. Then, after the communion, the silence was cut short because “I promised I would get mass done quickly tonight so we could all get home to watch the game”. Finally, when next week’s baptismal candidate was brought forward to be presented with candle to be lighted next week, there had to be further comment about the fact that the neophyte was dressed in Collingwood’s colours…
But I stuck it out. The final straw came when the closing hymn used the Tetragrammaton for the name of God. I walked out.
Needless to say there was none of that nonsense at St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Box Hill the following morning. But that’s because none of the clergy there are born and bred Melbournians. Very few Lutheran clergy in this country are. Rather than a positive sign of orthodoxy, it could well be just that the Lutherans still are not entirely enculturated in Melbourne.