Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Catholic Mass? - It could never happen said Fr Keegan

This is another extract from that prophetic novella by Brian Moore. Published in 1972 it was made into a television play a year or two later. Fr Keegan, a great Carmelite priest, was instructing my wife in the faith at the time and this book caused something of a stir among Catholics because it foretold a Church that had no time for the hermeneutic of continuity - for the link between tradition and modern day. It was, said Fr Keegan: "Not going to happen".

Sadly, it did happen. Here is a great piece of prose from the book:-

"The Mass! The Mass in Latin, the priest with his back turned to the congregation because both he and the congregation faced the altar where God was. Offering up the daily sacrifice of the Mass to God. Changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ the way Jesus told His disciples to do it at the Last Supper.
"This is My Body and this is My Blood. Do ye this in commemoration of Me"
God sent His Son to redeem us. His Son came down into the world and was crucified for our sins and the Mass is the commemoration of that crucifixion, of that sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for our sins. It is priest and people praying to God, assisting in a miracle whereby Jesus Christ again comes down among us, body and blood in the form of the bread and the wine there on the altar. And the Mass was said in Latin because Latin was the language of the Church and the Church was one and universal and a Catholic could go into any church in the world, here or in Timbuktu, or in China, and hear the same Mass, the only Mass there was, the Latin Mass. And if the Mass was in Latin and if the people did not speak Latin, that was part of the mystery of it, for the Mass was not talking to your neighbour, it was talking to God. Almighty God! And we did it that way for nearly two thousand years and, in all that time, the church was a place to be quiet in, and respectful, it was a hushed place because God was there, God on the altar, in the tabernacle in the form of a wafer of bread and a chalice of wine. It was God's house, where, every day, the daily miracle took place. God coming down among us. A mystery. Just as this new Mass isn't a mystery......"

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  1. How beautifully this is expressed, and how much we have lost.

    Thank you.

  2. Or take Evelyn Waugh's story "Out of Depth" where the protagonist in the midst of his confusion finds comfort and solace when he finds a Church and the Latin Mass.

    Little did Waugh imagine what soon to come. Nor others where that same comfort and solace would be replaced with confusion of a different kind.

    Not unlike your previous post on children's names where stability has been replaced by cultural confusion.