Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Picture this (2)

The eloquent, precocious and highly readable (if a little insane) young Patricius, has reproduced a photograph which I too find pretty dreadful.

How can four priests saying Mass be a horrific picture? Well, nobody would disagree that four priests saying Mass dressed as clowns or surrounded by oversized puppets does not do justice to Holy Mass and insults the dignity of the Mass more than usual. But why should a pre-VII photie with yards of good man-lace and altar boys in decent cottas with decent haircuts cause offence? (BTW: I wonder if God is offended? We like the brats that we are, feel righteous indignation for our Father, but it doesn’t mean the Father feels the same.)

To me the photograph does show something very wrong. The building itself, it is far too utilitarian. The picture looks like it could stretch on for miles, an aircraft hangar length room full of priests all saying Mass before a wall of white gloss paint and under the glare of tungsten filament bulbs in naff shades. This doesn’t mean Mass has to be said in a church, but Mass facing a blank wall in this fashion can not possibly make it easy for the angels to surround it with glory.

The question still remains; what does the picture show? Is it Mass in some pre-VII priestly penitentiary or asylum? Is it liturgical training school? Or is it actors learning how to portray priests? The picture is very wrong in many ways.


Anagnostis said...

It's liturgy stripped of leitourgia, reduced to a decorous rigmarole around the "magic words". It's the nadir of legalistic reductionism.

Richard Collins said...

I like it. I like it a great deal; it shows the individuality of the Mass. The set up is, I agree, a shade barren but the layout is the same at Lourdes. Think about it, you have priests arriving to celebrate Mass at different times of the day. They cannot hang around awaiting confreres to concelebrate (you cannot have concelebration in the EF Mass anyway). So, the photograph shows EF Masses at varying stages. Wonderful and very pleasing to Almighty God.

Anonymous said...

Until the 1960's this was normal, as I served one such Mass I could see at least ten others celebrating at other altars. Some would be saying a Votive Mass and those who wanted to get out quickly would be saying a Mass for the Dead. A monk told me that during Lent Vespers would be before lunch because it was not allowed to eat a full meal before Vespers! Singing Evening Prayer at 11 am!

Rita said...

Thank you for your comments, gentlemen.

Sorry, Richard, I respect your view but I'm still very uneasy about this approach to the Mass.

To me the bottom line is: if a "reasonable Orthodox bystander" finds it lacking, then it probably is. Not that the blog I got this from is reasonable or Orthodox.....

Ttony said...

The problem (and it is the problem facing us in lots of ways) is that the photo shows several things at once, all of which are true, and all of which challenge a black and white view of the world. Here's two:

The gradual liturgical change in the Roman Rite which introduced the concept of Low Mass led to a situation in which each priest would say a Mass every day. Associated rubrical and canonical regulation led to that Mass having to be said at particular times, and to each priest being bound in several ways. A thicket of praxis grew up in which there were more and more constraints imposed by more and more legislation, which ended up in a reductio ad absurdam of situations like the one in the photo. Popes Pius X and Pius XII each wielded an axe to try to cut through the thicket, but we needed a Council to look deeper at the resourcissiment that would lead to an aggiornamiento in the Church.

And ...

One consequence of the development of the structures of the Church after Trent was an increase in educational provision. These led to a better educated clergy, and, as diocesan seminaries began to spread, to a much more numerous clergy. But that clergy was inspired not just to be a sort of ecclesiastical civil servant, as had been very typical of the Episcopate in particular, certainly in the period up to the French Revolution, but to be holy men of God. This meant that their right to say Mass every day, to answer their calling by re-presenting God's Sacrifice of His Son for the salvation of men every day, became the prime motive of their priesthood.

Both true: not and/or but both/and. And there are other true captions as well. God's Church on earth is three dimensional, not a two dimensional black and white caricature.

Now, judging by the epithets Patricius has used to describe at least three of the people he dislikes, this makes me either satanic, homosexual or a pig. But, incredible though it may seem, the Church managed for two millennia without Patricius, and will probably carry on for just as long after he takes his views on fabrics and colours to whatever lucky Church happens to catch his eye.