When the liturgy reformer went on the lam after escaping jail . . .

Consider Dom Beauduin, previously noted as a World War I hero. This account is from a successor in the liturgical movement, Dom Bernard Botte, in his excellently readable, largely eyewitness account of the movement From Silence to Participation (Pastoral Press, 1988). The book is a translation of that year of a 1973 book in French.

Botte was drafted into the Belgian army in April 1914 and served to August of 1919, having left off his pre-ordination studies to follow the call.

Life was like that in Northern Euro countries where seminarians were not exempt. Indeed it was like that in the early ’50s, when as a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy I heard from a New Yorker about the French scholastic who returned to studies after a compulsory turn in the French army. For us Americans, of course, seminary occupancy was a ticket to non-service in the military.

He ran into Beauduin in a train station during the war, and needless to say they did not discuss liturgy, Botte being headed for the Western Front, where all was not quiet, and Beauduin doing God knew what and the Germans were trying to find out.

He was in fact working with British Intelligence and at one point was jailed for his troubles. Here had an Apostle Paul-like experience, escaping when the guard inside fell asleep and bluffing the sentry outside when he walked away. Later, he was condemned to death in absentia.

By then he had made it across the Dutch border, but only after “other equally fantastic adventures” did he later make it to England, where he acquired a zest for ecumenism after sessions with Anglican friends.

More later about that element of Dom Beauduin’s voluminous real-life portfolio . . .

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