|An incentive to be on time?|
The great Fr Z has answered a query from one of his readers regarding what can be done about those people who are late for Mass?
'Course, that never happens at Latin Masses.......um.....or, does it?
The reader asks if it was an issue before the Second Vatican
Yes, indeed it did happen; we were not saints in those days and, in addition to a lack of punctuality there was also the awful custom of leaving Mass at the last Gospel.
We are not talking big percentages here, in either instance.
Something like 5% of the congregation would be either latecomers or early leavers, but I do recall the means by which the parish priests of Hounslow and Heston respectively tackled the matter.
Heston Parish was under the steady hand of Father Walsh (later a fine bishop). His method of coping with latecomers was to lock the door as Mass began.
Then, maybe some time after the Kyrie, when the hammering on the door indicated that the 5% had gathered outside the church, then, and only then would Fr Walsh leave the sanctuary and open the door for them in person.
They would then slink in to the nearest seat, totally embarrassed and ashamed.
That strategy merits a place in the 'crude but effective' file.
It was quite wrong, of course, the Mass was in process and the celebrant had no right to leave the proceedings.
And now for Ss Michael's and Martin's, Hounslow where the great Canon Musgrave held sway.
He had a legitimate way of coping with the early leavers when his curate, Fr Steer was the celebrant.
The Canon would hide himself away in the church porch and as the ELs made a dash for the exit after (logically enough) the 'Ite Missa est', he would pounce on them and drive them back in telling them in no uncertain words that "Mass has not ended, you know?"
Priests were not afraid to speak out then and behave as a true shepherd should behave.
In those days, those of us in the Catholic school system would be bombarded with information regarding becoming a priest.
The talks, by the PP or one of the nuns, would always end with the exhortation, "Pray to God boys, and ask Him to call you and tell you that He wants you for one of His priests".
Well, pray to God I did and it was a regular and fervent prayer but, I'm afraid that I asked God not to call me as the last thing I wanted to be was a priest.
Thankfully, the Almighty heard my prayer and I never received His call.
And finally, one small memory that illustrates perhaps the depth of reverence that was held then for the Eucharist.
When we returned home after Mass the first thing we did, following my father's lead, was to make the sign of the cross and drink a glass of water, to positively remove any fragments that may have been retained in the mouth.
Trivial? Overly pious? Maybe. But that is how we behaved then.
My, how we have drifted.