Wednesday, 20 May 2015

It's all about the priest...

As I was driving home, I was listening to PM on radio 4. After a rather dreadful piece on vicars learning to tell jokes and use humour in their sermons, there was another item which really caught my attention. It was an interview with a Catholic, whose name I didn't catch, who had decided to go to Mass every day in Lent, at a different Church.

His conclusion, from having attended 46 Masses said by 46 different priests on 46 successive days was: 'It's all about the priest...'

Some priests, he found, really brought the Mass alive for him, by the sermons they preached, or the care with which they said the Mass, or (and this was particularly potent for him) saying 'thank you for coming' at the end.

Just think about that: 'It's all about the priest...'

For me, that did seem a sad reflection on our modern liturgy; a fruit in part of the changes to the Mass following the Second Vatican Council, and not least in the orienting of the priest to face the people; but also a fruit of a poor understanding of the Mass by priest and people alike.

One of the things I love about the traditional Latin Mass is that the person of the priest is almost an irrelevance. We are looking through him to Christ. 'It's all about Christ offering the Sacrifice to the Father.' It is true that some manage to say the New Mass in that way - not least our Pope Emeritus (about whose wise liturgical praxis I have blogged here, in passing); but it is also true that a priest who faces East simply doesn't have the temptation (or feel the necessity) of making the Mass all about him.


Patricius said...

I, too, heard that interview but only up to the point where he said "It's all about the priest." That was where I declared, "The man is a complete idiot," and turned the radio off. The interviewee was an individual named Adrian Chiles. I think he is a failed/sacked commentator angling for some new post in the media. While not a few Catholics, in my experience, will make a special effort to attend daily mass during Lent attempting to do so at a different church each day sounds less like a devotional/penitential exercise designed to bring one closer to God than an attempt at some kind of information gathering for some other purpose. Anyway, it fed in well to the BBC's customary practice of getting the least well
formed Catholics to front a presentation about the Church.

Jonathan Marshall said...

Patricius, I think you are being a bit too harsh on Chiles. His comment "It's all about the priest" is a very accurate observation - in the Novus Ordo Mass (unless you're really fortunate and find one celebrated ad orientem) it IS all about the priest, because he (rather than God)has become the focus of the Mass.