4 September 2017

How to introduce the Vetus Ordo to a country church overnight

"For weeks before my induction I had been in the parish seeing people in their homes and in the fields ... endeavouring to prepare the minds of all who would listen for the changes I contemplated making in the services.

"All had been made ready for the solemn offering of the Mass. Nicholas Peters had learnt to swing the censer, Peter Curnow ... to make the responses, when on that first Sunday after my induction the people of St Hilary flocked to the church and found, in the place of a clergyman reading Dearly beloved, a strange figure in vestments at the altar with a little boy who knelt at his side. Many were watching for the first time the drama of the Mass. They were there as spectators who watch a play with a symbolism and language unknown to them. Man cries for redemption, Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. God answers man's despairing cry in the opening words of the Gloria in excelsis, proclaiming the advent of the promised Saviour, but still they do not understand.

"'Whatever is he doing up there now?' they say. 'Can 'e make it out at all?' The summit of the drama is reached when, the whole company of heaven having been summoned to man's aid, the words of consecration are spoken and the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus who offered Himself on the Cross at Calvary. They are aware of the silence, broken by the ringing of a bell. 'Did 'e hear the bell? What is that for, my dear' they whisper. The bell rings again at the Domine non sum dignus. There are a few who kneel in wonder at what is being accomplished; it is for them a moment of prayer such as they have never experienced before. But for many who crowd the church the great drama of the Mass remains without meaning."

I know what readers are thinking ... "That's not very brick-by-brick".

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