The Mass of the ’40s vs. of today, a Catholic lament

6. The priest never looked at the people, as already noted. It was prayer time, for him and the rest of us, moments of silence and attempted communing with the supernatural.

7. Mass over, church remained a place of prayer, not reverting to a social hall, as if the Sacrament did not remain, ensconced in tabernacle.

Blithe Spirit

1. The Latin was mysterious, signalling the (bona fide) mysteries of the Eucharist, vs. today’s liturgical populism, downgrading the mystical and downplaying the sacral. 

 2. The priest saying Mass was a functionary, reflecting the ex opere operato aspect of what he did.

 3. The priest at mass was (presumably) a priest at prayer, absorbed in that aspect, which meant he did not look at or survey people, even when turning to them to pronounce a blessing or solicit response.

 4. As functionary or performer of the sacred ritual, he was severely limited. Ritual reigned, ad libbing unheard of.

 5. People looked forward and saw the priest facing in the same direction, a crucial element in the transaction but not the focus. (Important point here and now, when the priest has become the focus, people look at him, there being nothing else, presuming they pay…

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About Jim Bowman
Jim Bowman covered religion 1968-78 for the Chicago Daily News, since then has written books, articles, etc., mostly on corporate history but also on religion (Company Man: My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968), and more recently on politics (Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters, -- Lulu.com, Kindle). Longtime Oak Park, Illinois, resident, he lives now on Chicago's North Side, where four of his and Winnie's six children live close by.

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