Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mass Murmurings

Well is the Novus Ordo referred to as the Nervous Ordeal. As Bl Teresa of Calcutta said of one ungrateful beggar, I met Our Lord to-day in a most distressing disguise!

As I am in the midst of a cashflow crisis, as I have to pay up front for my upcoming European idyll, I haven't gone down to Hobart and back to-day for the monthly Latin Mass there (the petrol would cost too much). Instead I went along to my local parish church.

Now, Fr Allan is a devout priest, and the Novus Ordo is valid, but I do find the general atmosphere of Sunday worship depressing and alienating: the people chatting away loudly immediately before and after Mass - what a contrast with the Latin Mass parishes and churches I know, where people actually pray! - the servers, the tramping of layfolk up into the sanctuary and back with hardly a nod of the head, and so on.

Fr's sermon, too, rather strangely missed the point: he gave a very good explanation of how Advent is a time of expectation of salvation, vouchsafed us in Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and carefully explained the term in its natural understanding of restoration of health to mind and body, and how salvation to Christians means restoring our spiritual health, and went on and... never came to the point of how salvation in Christ is our hope for eternal life when this brief life comes to its inescapable end. I was irresistably reminded of St Paul's words: "If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we are the most pitiable of all men."

No wonder few see the need for Christianity when salvation is spoken of only regarding here and now: Christ seems but a rather dubious optional add-on extra, rather than our only Hope!

Such preaching I fear does not convert.

Even our two hymns this morning, parts of "O come, O come, Emmanuel" and "The God whom earth and sea and sky" - both traditional, decent translations of Latin hymns - and the reasonably singable vernacular settings of the Sanctus and Agnus Dei left me yearning for more. A well-meant but somewhat strange solo piece about St John the Baptist as sung during Communion was a little odd, and would have been better at the Offertory.

I get the feeling that the awe-inspiring nature of what is going on - the offering up of the Sacrifice, and our unspeakable joy in receiving Christ's true Flesh and Blood in the Sacrament, all for our eternal profit and salvation - is rather forgotten or not sufficiently appreciated. Is there insufficient recognition of the great gift of God? There seems a sort of heedless casual attitiude of impropriety, instead of the reverence and piety that should be evident. This is why a weekday Novus Ordo is infinitely more bearable than a Sunday one with all and sundry.

I speak not as an æsthete sneering at hoi polloi, but as a Catholic somewhat scandalized by this seeming lack of awareness on the part of my coreligionists. I am sure an Orthodox worshipper, a Latin Mass only type, or a High Church Anglican would be quite upset by this strange lack of devotion.

At least I brought my Breviary along, and what with time beforehand and time in between at the quiet bits, I prayed Matins and Lauds. (Yesterday I left the horribly long Matins of Saturday till late at night, when I read it out-of-order, getting it done, feeling terribly dry and indevout.)

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