Mark 9:24

Ira pro nobis

In Dramatic Retellings on May 6, 2012 at 4:15 am

There is little on Earth so glorious as a Solemn High Mass, for it is as near we have to Heaven and as close as we’ll get to Calvary. Still, someone thought he could improve it.

As the litanies closing off the 40 Hours Devotion tapered off into the Introibo ad Altare Dei of a Blessed Sacrament votive Mass, a moment of silence opened up. Into this, a man who sounded unbalanced filled it with some extemporaneous blather.

There is something deep, wide, mysterious, solid, and true at Mass.

“Is it all right if I say a prayer?”

He went on for a bit, in forgotten forgettable words, and followed it up with Amen. A burly bass voice, probably that of the heckler’s confrère, replied jovially.

Beyond a solitary shush, everyone near me stayed silent, as if to pity the men for not recognizing a sacred place. Once the choirster pre-emptively kicked off the Kyrie — Lord have mercy, indeed — only infants in their innocence would disrupt Mass. Very small children, you see, are not culpable for stink and noise.

Seeing this kind of prayer so close to a most reverently celebrated High Mass makes parody of presuming parity. Prayers which are so much less than Mass are hardly prayer. In one kind, selfish-seeming men focused on externals and adulation from a crowd utter meaningless noises, conspiring on an occult script so as to elicit an emotional response. The other, and the opposite, is a High Mass.

An informant reported that the two left immediately thereafter. Intuition tells me that these were probably two men, making as to brave the Whore of Babylon and enmity from the chief idol worshippers inside, hoping to claim the accursed place for Jesus. Imagination continues the story further, insisting that the two crammed into a Dodge Dart, both of them fully immersed in cranked-up sonic pollution they think worships the still, small voice. Hope, or maybe merely foolish optimism, insists that each knows something inescapably true: How false rings their triumph against the Real Presence. Such arrogance it would be if these men believed they know Jesus better than those who know Him as his disciples did.

Each confrère keeps up a pretense of declaring success, for each looks at the other and thinks: Any man Jonah enough to face the horror of Babylon is Jeremiah enough to denounce you in front of all of your friends. Around such men, it is better not to give a hint of weakness, or so would say men deep in pride. 

Let us pray such a charge is false; let us pray that these men will be strangely and uncomfortably drawn back to the parish, even if they’d never admit it.

  1. I *know*, right? It was surreal–the sort of thing I’d expect to happen in Fresno, but not at St. Stephen’s, somehow.

  2. Found you via Leah’s blog. Keep up the good work. I’m an editor for Catholic Lane ( You should consider submitting an article or essay sometime. God bless.

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