The permanent shape of Christianity shows through

. . . the fixed service, with prayers you know are coming.

 

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The Mass removes the minister from the spotlight.  There is little room for the cult of personality.  Something much bigger than the minister is underway.  C.S. Lewis showed this to me long ago.  Slow to learn, it took a decade or two before I realized these truths in the Catholic Church:

The advantage of a fixed form of service is that we know what is coming. Ex tempore public prayer has this difficulty: we don’t know whether we can mentally join in it until we’ve heard it – it might be phoney or heretical. We are therefore called upon to carry on a critical and a devotional activity at the same moment: two things hardly compatible. In a fixed form we ought to have ‘gone through the motions’ before in our private prayers: the rigid form really sets our devotions free. I also find the more rigid it is, the easier it is to keep one’s thoughts from straying. Also it prevents any service getting too completely eaten up by whatever happens to be the preoccupation of the moment (a war, an election, or what not). The permanent shape of Christianity shows through. I don’t see how the ex tempore method can help becoming provincial and I think it has a great tendency to direct attention to the minister rather than to God.

C. S. Lewis’ letter to Mary Van Deusen, April 1, 1952

In the Mass, attention and worship are directed to God from first to last.  That’s the way it should be.  And it is good.

ONE LORD. ONE FAITH. ONE BAPTISM.

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AS FOR ME, I KNOW THAT MY VINDICATOR LIVES, AND THAT HE WILL AT LAST STAND FORTH UPON THE DUST. THIS WILL HAPPEN WHEN MY SKIN HAS BEEN STRIPPED OFF, AND FROM MY FLESH I WILL SEE GOD: I WILL SEE FOR MYSELF, MY OWN EYES, NOT ANOTHER’S, WILL BEHOLD HIM: MY INMOST BEING IS CONSUMED WITH LONGING. JOB 19:25-27*

 

 

*New American Bible Revised Edition

 

 

Author: Danny Collier

Catholic husband, father, lawyer

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