4 June 2010

Separated Doctors of the Catholic Church

A nice phrase by Fr Aidan Nichols ... and I offer you a piece today one one of those Anglican Catholic theologians of whom Fr Aidan thinks so well: Fr Eric Mascall of Oxford.

What makes the mass one and corporate is not the fact that a lot of people are together at the same service, but the fact that it is the act of the one Christ in his Body (corpus) the Church. And I can think of no better way of making anyone understand wherein the unity and corporateness of the mass really consists than to take him into a church in which a number of priests are simultaneously celebrating private masses and to say: "Look at those men at their various altars all round the church, each of them apparently muttering away on his own and having nothing to do with the others. In fact they are all of them doing the same thing - the same essentially, the same numerically - not just a lot of things of the same kind, but the very same identical thing; each of them is taking part as a priest in the one redemptive act which Christ, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, perpetuates in the Church which is his Body through the sacrament of his body and blood."

Mascall used to say his own mass every morning (except when he was on the Cathedral rota for a public mass) in the church where I went for daily mass as an undergraduate. How wonderful it would be if the scene he describes returned to the life of our churches ... just imagine the basilica at Lourdes every morning with a constant coming and going of priests to the altars of the fifteen mysteries.


Anglican doubter said...

I once drew my very liberal tutor's attention to this passage in Dr Mascall's Corpus Christi. He looked incredulous and characterised it as a tour de force. I , too, have happy memories od St Mary Magdalen's in the days of Colin Stephenson and John Hooper but,alas , now as a member of F i F I can only say ichabod.

Fr Terry said...

anglican doubter! If your tutor was "very liberal" you could hardly have expected him to have appreciated the subtlety of Eric Mascall's Catholic thought or his Catholic practice of saying private masses in St. Mary Mag's. Some of us were fortunate enough to be taught by priests who even sometimes celebrated the High Mass there.