Friday, 5 November 2010

Walking to Heaven Backwards.

Of course, I never intended to come home.It was, I suppose, the last thing on my mind.I never needed to come home,because in my own view I had never really left.....I just did not go to Mass.Not for thirty plus years!What made me come home? I think that story is for another time.Enough then  to say that somehow I was thrown a lifebelt, and here I am in a little rowing boat lashed to the barque of St Peter.
                I knew that the church had changed.Indeed I had watched with some bewilderment the re-ordering of our churches after Vatican2.In the space of what seemed like a very few weeks, the thing that first drew me to Catholicism,the Latin Mass,was replaced by the Novus Ordo.The Gregorian chant no more,instead,a hesitant congregation manfully trying to sing a woefully inadequate version of the Gloria and the Sanctus in their native tongue.I had only been a catholic for about two years!
              It was The Mass then that first attracted me.It was, no doubt, the bells and smells that catechized me.It was the reverence,the holiness, the piety,of those around me.I had no idea of the concept of sacrifice.Coming from a protestant background ,that idea was alien to my mind,Holy Communion was purely symbolic nothing more.When I grasped the meaning of the Mass,when I understood the Real Presence I wondered how I dared to lift my eyes to the Altar ,how I dared to merely kneel at the consecration,should I not prostrate myself before Him whose sacrifice was being perpetuated before me?
              It was not hard for me to believe it.In some ways I sort of recognised it.I very quickly learned the Latin.Low Mass was I believe ,called Dialogue Mass, a sure way of learning and understanding the ancient language of the church ,and I loved every word.
I coped with the changes.I coped with them for ten or eleven years.I coped with them but did not understand.I think looking back,this new direction that the church took after Vatican 2 contributed to my subsequent desertion.........I saw no need for change. I resented the removal of the altar rails,the redundancy of the high Altars ,the opening up of the Sanctary.All that I deemed to be holy crumbled before me.Communion in the hand was another blow to me.Had I not been taught a few short years before,that only the consecrated hands of a priest should touch the Body of Christ.!What kept me faithful was the knowledge that in spite of everything,the Mass, was the Mass ,was the Mass.That faith was a gift, a precious gift,that externals should not matter,and that nothing could ever shake my belief in the truth of catholicism.
That last conviction remained with me during the following years.The years without Mass and the sacraments.I never did not believe.I always believed in the truth of it all.I just did not practise........
         There are no excuses for my failure,apart from the one mentioned above.I know that sometimes it takes time for converts to start "thinking catholic".But for me, from the moment I experienced Mass  in a Catholic church I assumed that catholic identity,that distinct way of thinking,and of looking at the world.
Very strange,but very true.
So then ,I understand the words of Blessed Cardinal Newman.
"We advance to the truth by experience of error;we suceed through failures.We know not how to do right except by having done wrong...We know what is right,not positively,but negatively................
Such is the process by which we suceed;we walk to heaven backward."

Thank you KKOLLWITZ,for your comment on my previous try-out post.
I hope you are not disappointed.

No comments: