|For use on board plane - or at the Latin Mass!|
I know it is not pc to say the word 'deaf' but the term 'hard of hearing' belongs directly to the nanny state and, besides, nobody speaks of the 'hard of eyesight' - 'blind' being perfectly acceptable.
But this Mass for the Deaf was one that I attended some time in the last five years, somewhere East of Fishguard and north of Penzance (it would be most unkind for me to cast a light on the good priest who celebrated this Mass).
It was not a Mass for deaf people, there was no 'signing' in Latin, that would have been rather droll.
It was rather a Mass that, if you were deaf, you would probably have had no problem in hearing every word the priest said.
Let me set the scene; it was a typical Old Rite congregation, no chatting, laughing or telling silly jokes; all was quiet and reverent as usual.
A bell rang and the server emerged from the Sacristy followed by the celebrant.
So far so good.
And then the prayers at the foot of the altar began.
The priest (whom, I should have said, was Irish, had a broad Irish brogue that you could have cut with a pneumatic drill) and when he opened his mouth to say the blessing: "IN NOMINE PATRIS ET FILII ET SPIRITUS SANCTI AMEN" he bellowed it out with every ounce of energy in his body.
And so it continued.
At first I was shocked and then subject to inward hysterical laughter.
I then came to the conclusion (rightly as it transpired) that this priest was using his normal volume of speech and that he had little knowledge of the Latin Mass and its rubrics.
This was a Mass of a sort never before experienced and the good man proceeded at a rattling pace, to go through the Mass as if someone was holding a gun at his head and telling him to go louder and faster.
We, the congregation, were swept along with him, barely hanging on for dear life to the edge of his alb.
This was a Mass of some pace, it was a raging torrent of a Mass and it bumped us along through the rapids over waterfalls, into deep pools and out again spluttering for breath.
It was a magnificent and moving experience - but, with the Blessed Adrian Fortescue spinning in his grave, by all rights it should not have been.
Monsignor Ronald Knox once described the Mass as being a form of dance and never was this more true than on this occasion; it was a river dance of a Mass that would have had the purists swooning in the aisles.
I am not a purist. There was no intention of irreverence.
And any priest who travels a considerable distance on a Sunday afternoon, to say the Mass of all Time for a disparate group of orthodox Catholics, gets my vote.
We left the Church feeling as if we had been through the millstream with heads ringing and eardrums in a state of shock.
May God bless that priest (and guide him to an LMS course on how to celebrate the Holy Mass).