Mass, the Bible, and Father McGuire

WHAT CATHOLICS HEAR AT MASS . . . Just returned from SSPX territory (Society of Saint Pius X), where mass is Tridentine and the calendar too.  So we had old-style 13th Sunday after Pentecost readings, which meant we heard nothing from the OT, so that I neither heard nor read Isaiah 66 predicting proclamation “to the distant coastlands” of Yahweh’s glory by means of horses, mules, and dromedaries.

Neither did I catch Hebrews 12 with its encouragement to accept trials in life as acts of discipline by a loving father, namely Yahweh, known as God to most of us.  Nor Luke 13 with the narrow-gate warning by Jesus: “Many are called, but few are chosen” in the old translation, and with “Depart from me, ye cursed” somewhat sanitized to read “Depart from me, all ye evildoers.”  The meaning is the same pastorally speaking, but the punch is about half-strength.

However, I did hear Father Michael sermonizing on the importance of frequent confession, even for those who never have other than venial sins to confess.  It’s a sacrament, for one thing, and gives grace.  Here is old-time religion: grace discussed as an aid to doing the right thing.  The word rarely comes up mainstream.  It’s part of discredited old-time theology that once reigned in seminary and pulpit.  Times do change, do they not?

I mention three new-style readings, repeated only every third year, because it’s where new-style beats old, in my opinion.  Why not multiply readings while we’re at it, at mass?  (Maybe to drive home moral points year after year, repetition being the mother of study.) 

What I do not miss, however, is the new-style handclasp or hug of peace, which has degenerated from restrained symbolic action to a festival of meeting and greeting that pokes a hole neatly into any aura of reverence one may have ginned up for devotion’s sake if not God’s.

POETRY, PLEASE . . . . What I did hear at the SPPX mass was Galatians 3, Paul talking about The Law and where it fits into the scheme of salvation, and Luke 17, about Jesus and the ten lepers whom he sent to “the priests” cured.  Of the ten, only one, a Samaritan, returned to Jesus to thank and praise him, at which point Jesus intoned one of his most quoted lines: “Where are the other nine?” further asking, “Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” and concluding, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

None of this was seized on by Father Michael, unfortunately, in his well-reasoned but repetitious and somewhat dry presentation.  But “Your faith has made you well” — or “thy faith has made thee whole” — is a line that remains with the listener.  It’s something to conjure with in an off moment, when things look especially bad. 

This is a weakness with the SPPX preachers, whom I appreciate for their practicality in matters spiritual.  They need a little poetry in their souls.  We all do.

DAILY OBSERVER . . . My sole column so far for the weeks-old online Chicago Daily Observer, is “Latin mass, anyone? What’s in store for Chicago?”.

Look for #2 soon — I think, though I haven’t heard boo from the editor, Tom Roeser, since I sent it Thursday. It’s about Rev. Donald McGuire, the Jesuit convicted as a pederast last year in Wisconsin.

Since this column went off, the Wisconsin prosecutor has said he wants McGuire back for imprisonment.  McG has been living in Oak Lawn while his seven-year sentences are appealed.

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