Sunday, September 7, 2008

In a Country Town

My mate Justin is working over East, and had cause to be in a small country town, repairing an organ in an Anglican church.  Now, come Sunday, he had most unwillingly to endure two unendurables: the very banal Novus Ordo in the local Catholic church (the nearest Latin Mass being unreachable owing to lack of transport), and the organ dedication in the context of "Mass" in the very High Anglican church!

The Catholic service first: Justin had resolved on bringing along his Latin/English missal, and keeping eyes downcast (except for the Elevation) so as to imagine himself at a rather more acceptable service.  Apparently the lady in front of him shewed her irritation at his mumblings, so he moved.  The congregation, he tells me, looked bored out of their minds; the priest, Maltese, had so thick an accent that Justin couldn't get a word of what he said, whether in the homily or at the altar; and the 'pterodactyls' singing "Here I am, Lord" and other vulgar ditties were dreadful.  He found the antics of the ladies administering the chalices particularly difficult to bear, especially their vigorous "washing up" routine after Communion.  When discussing all this over the phone with him earlier, we agreed that the sad truth was that these folk need our prayers, seeing as how they have so poor a spiritual diet: as I opined, many people the world over either perforce put up with really bad liturgy or just give into despair and leave, for one could easily draw the conclusion that religion was nonsense given how miserably it is celebrated.  The church building reflected this: it seemed ill-cared for.

Now the amusing if not tragic thing is that, having had the valid Sacrament, when Justin went next to the Anglican show he had all the traditional ceremonies supplied, excepting only the Real Presence - since the local minister, very Anglo-Catholic, celebrated with incense and everything, using the English Missal, including the Roman Canon!  My friend did wonder at the very small congregation, given the occasion of the dedication of the very significant and historic organ: only about 20 people turned up, for an Anglican version of a Missa Cantata.  It is sad to say that the celebrant, while personally morally upright and prayerful, is known by his public statements to approve the homosexual lifestyle as an acceptable option.

So, what a choice: Catholic poverty and banality, or Anglican bells-and-smells.  Sad.

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