Monday, 9 November 2009
Reminiscences of a priest.
Father Ignatius put the phone down and settled in the armchair near the fireplace. It was a cold winter evening so he warmed his hands by the fire then picked up his cup of cocoa and took a sip or two. There was nothing to capture his interest on television, so after watching the usual dismal news he switched it off and turned his thoughts to the phone call.
It had been some months since he last spoke to his great friend Monsignor Thomas. They had trained together for the priesthood in Rome many years ago, and he hadn’t seen the Monsignor for some time now. As usual, Monsignor Thomas ended the telephone conversation by saying: “Dominus vobiscum” and Father Ignatius replied “Et cum spiritu tuo”.
The Latin words reverberated in his mind. It’s such a long time that he celebrated Mass in Latin he thought.
“Yet there was a time when all Masses were said in Latin,” thought the priest as he put down his cup of cocoa.
His mind wandered to his youth, as a young priest, and how different life was back then. In those days sermons were different too, he thought. “There was more meat to them,” he mumbled to himself.
“We were not afraid to say things the way they were; and still are now. We warned our flock of the dangers of sin, and an eternity in hell. We told them what was right and what was wrong …”
He remembered a particular sermon where he spoke against trying to contact spirits and visiting so-called mediums.
Now sermons seem to have been toned down for fear of up-setting the congregation.
“We have to be politically correct” he said to himself.
He realised that things change over the years, and change is sometimes inevitable. But it isn’t always for the better, he argued with himself.
“Back then,” he thought, “people used to fast for twelve hours before taking Holy Communion. They used to genuflect at the Altar rail and take the Host on the tongue. None of this queuing up the center aisle and holding the Host in your hand business as we do now.”
His sighed quietly as he recalled other changes which befell the Catholic Church over the years. People used to kneel as they entered the church or took their place in the pews. Women had their heads covered; either with a hat or a scarf.
He brought to mind an incident last summer when a young lady attempted to enter the church for Sunday Mass dressed in a bikini top and short pants. He happened to be at the entrance of the church and he stopped her.
“You must let me in,” she protested, “I have a perfect right!”
“Madam,” Father Ignatius replied in his stern voice, “you have a perfect left too, but you’re not coming in dressed like that!”
He smiled at the way he handled the situation and was awakened from his reveries by Father Donald entering the room.
“What’s on TV?” asked Father Donald in his broad Scottish accent.
“Only dust …” replied Ignatius still smiling.
“I like it,” said Father Donald laughing, “I’ll tell the housekeeper in the morning. I’m sure she’ll appreciate your joke!”