My thoughts were prompted by this article that Deacon Greg links to in which a lapsed and liberal Catholic journalist agrees that the Catholic Church is irredeemably old fashioned and the trendy nuns and the folks who thought Vatican 2 was a revolution ought to simply get up and get out. He went to a “Mass” at a church calling itself “Catholic but not Roman Catholic” celebrated by a “woman priest” who had been “marrying gay people for a long time already.” The church he said was “packed and the worship joyful.”
The thoughts the article prompted were these: that at Mass today I was celebrating with these magnificent signs and words the simplicity and antiquity of the Christian faith. The Mass is the life blood of the church, and it is the liturgy of the Mass which helps us build on the rock which stands the test of time. The sad journalist acknowledged that the Catholic Church was not going to budge on homosexual marriage, women priests and the whole secular agenda. This is what I was celebrating–that there is a faith that does not budge. It does not change according to every wind of doctrine–and fashion of society–that the truth is the truth–even if 99.9% of people abandon it.
There I was at the altar doing something which is ridiculous to many and bewildering to more–wearing clothes from the Roman era, reciting words as ancient as the Hebrews and enacting gestures and offering a sacrifice in a ritual that connects me not only with all Catholics down the ages, but also with all ancient and venerable and mysterious and religious people. This action cuts across the technology we love so much. It cuts across the politics and economics. It cuts across all the arguments and petty, murderous power plays. It cuts across my own petty concerns and worries and fears. It reminded me of this inspiring passage from the classic book The Shape of the Liturgy.
Celebrating Mass is the rock on which I build. Without it I am swept up by the relative and subjective opinions and trends of the world, those around me and most unreliable of all–myself. With the Mass–and with the Divine Office there is something solid and real. So real, in fact, that I sometimes at the altar feel that the chalice and paten are too heavy for me to lift. There it is, and there it will be. It does not matter if the world accepts it or not. It does not matter if I am a popular priest or if my church “succeeds” or my books sell or I am a popular speaker or blogger. None of it matters compared to the eternal Mass.
This is my refuge and my rock.