A Requiem in London: on silent and hidden liturgy posted at LMS Chairman by Joseph Shaw could have helped me in a conversation with an old and dear friend. At some point in a thoroughly priestly and zeal-filled exchange, he blurted out that we absolutely had to get better preaching from our priests at Sunday Mass. I disagreed, but could have used the Shaw article to help illustrate just what the Holy Sacrifice is and what it should be especially on Sundays in the life of a Catholic if it is to be as the Council would have it fons et culmen, source and summit of Christian existence.
"The point of these ceremonies and texts is that they are liturgically appropriate, indeed called for. They are part of a liturgy which expresses in all sorts of ways the things which we want it to express, addressed not to us, but to God. And they are part of a ritual which has an objective value and efficacy. The blessings and, above all, the consecration of the Sacred Species, is something which happens really, objectively, and it is important for us to know that it does so: it is not dependent on the Faithful's response, any more than on the priest's worthiness."
Too many people pay thoughtless lip service to what an integral faith life should be all about. What more ought that life be than a generous half hour in church on the weekend? The words just seem too often to flow on by and we seem incapable of drawing the most evident conclusions. Apart from so much and horrendous liturgical abuse, we have been starving our people for a good half century for the most part, by giving them the impression that their profound conviviality accompanied by hymns of praise can do it all. If there is no sense of the presence of God in the home, no informed encounter with our beloved Lord and His dearest Mother, mediated by our parents, the priest can jump and shout all he wants from the pulpit, the ambo or the main aisle, but to what avail?
Obviously, I cannot be making a plea for the restoration of the Roman Rite alone. This is the jewel in the setting of a life lived in communion with Christ within the community of His Church and starting from the home.
Why do we hear of conversions and vocations attributed to the discovery of Perpetual Adoration? Because that is what happens when right order begins to return to the life of the baptized.
I reminded my priest friend of the Holy Name Society once popular in my youth. Basically, it banded men together at the parish level to struggle with the bad habit of cursing and swearing, of taking the Lord's Name in vain. How rude we have become in our vulgarity and how distant from love for the One Who bears that Name which is above every other name! Source and summit, we need to challenge people where they are at and lead them to that place on high, which can be cloaked in mystery because we have worked things out before ever crossing the threshold of His Sanctuary.
No, better preaching won't do the job. A consequent and virtuous life has to be led. Penance appropriate to one's state in life has to be done. Sacramental forgiveness for grave sin has to be sought with urgency. The Temple is not a gathering hall but the footstool of the One upon the Throne.
People "tank up", or so they say, by contemplating a sunset from their hot tub with a glass of Chablis in hand. Sorry, but my parents sensitized me to something much more sublime even with patched overalls and powdered milk. A life lived for God might be enough to render Sunday morning uncrowded for the sake of the source and summit of Christian existence. The Liturgy even in its silence will do the rest to draw seekers up the slopes of the mountain of God.
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI