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Two More Items from Catholic England

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Nov 14, 2012

I’m almost done reading through Fr. Saward’s fine anthology of The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England. Here are two brief quotations from twentieth-century authors.

The first comes from the famous novelist, Evelyn Waugh, who very strongly lamented the changes in the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council. One need not agree with Waugh’s own liturgical preferences to recognize that he perceived some liturgical values which we often obscure today:

When I first came into the Church [1930] I was drawn, not by splendid ceremonies but by the spectacle of the priest as a craftsman. He had an important job to do which none but he was qualified for. He and his apprentice stumped up to the altar with their tools and set to work without a glance to those behind them, still less with any intention to make a personal impression on them.
‘Participate’—the cant word—does not mean to make a row as the Germans suppose. One participates in a work of art when one studies it with reverence and understanding.

Notice that Waugh, writing I believe in the 1970s, does not fall into a simple category here. The first paragraph extols the low Mass in the Extraordinary Form while indicating a lack of attraction to the “splendid ceremonies” of the high Mass. The second underscores a potentially empty vocal participation by the congregation in today’s Ordinary Form. But whether easy to categorize or not, Waugh’s remarks do provoke reflection.

On another topic, writing in the late 1950s, Hubert van Zeller, a Benedictine priest who was perhaps most influenced by the Dominican Father Bede Jarrett, concisely captured the importance of differentiating temptation from sin:

Conflict is not sin, temptation is not sin, failure admitted and repented of is not, any longer, sin. Sin is occasioned by the refusal to admit the danger of sin. Sin is committed by the refusal to prolong the conflict. Sin is prolonged by the refusal to admit the failure.

Amen.

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  • Posted by: jjen009 - Nov. 14, 2012 7:31 PM ET USA

    I cannot tell you how wonderful our Monday Mass is at the Auckland cathedral - he is the ONLY priest there who just 'does the red, says the black.' My Opus Dei spiritual director likes to say, "Mass-plus is always Mass-minus."

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