O Most Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph

O Most Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph
In you we place all our faith and all our trust.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why Go to Mass? # 6

+ JMJ +

Hilaire Belloc (1870 – 1953)
Anglo-French writer, historian, orator, poet, satirist, man of letters, and political activist, notable for his Catholic faith.

Hilaire Belloc on why we need daily Mass:

In the first village I came to I found that Mass was over, and this justly annoyed me. For what is a pilgrimage in which a man cannot hear Mass every morning? 

A student on pilgrimage in Santiago, Spain. (Source)

Of all the things I have read about St Louis which make me wish I had known him to speak to, nothing seems to me more delightful than his habit of getting Mass daily whenever he marched down south. 

St. Louis, King of France 

But why this should be so delightful I cannot tell. Of course, there is a grace and influence belonging to such a custom. But it is not of that I am speaking, but of the pleasing sensation of order and accomplishment which attaches to a day one has opened by Mass -- a purely temporal ... feeling, but a source of continual comfort to me.

This comfort I ascribe to four causes, and these causes are:

1.  That for half-an-hour just at the opening of the day you are silent and recollected, and have to put off cares, interests, and passions in the repetition of a familiar action. This must certainly be a great benefit to the body and give it tone.

2. That the Mass is a careful and rapid ritual. Now it is the function of all ritual (as we see in games, social arrangements and so forth) to relieve the mind by so much of responsibility and initiative and to catch you up (as it were) into itself, leading your life for you during the time it lasts. In this way, you experience a singular repose, after which ... I am sure one is fitter for action and judgment.

3. That the surroundings incline you to good and reasonable thoughts, and for the moment deaden the rasp (a harsh, grating noise) and jar (a sudden unpleasant effect upon the mind or feelings) of that busy wickedness which, both working in one’s self and received from others, is the true source of all human miseries. Thus the time spent at Mass is like a short repose (the state of being at rest; peace; tranquility; calm) in a deep and well-built library, into which no sounds come and where you feel yourself secure against the outer world.

Young Man Praying

4.  And the most important cause of this feeling of satisfaction is that you are doing what the human race has done for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years. This is a matter of such moment that I am astonished people hear of it so little. Whatever is buried right into our blood from immemorial habit that we must be certain to do if we are to be fairly happy (of course no grown man or woman can really be very happy for long–but I mean reasonably happy), and, what is more important, decent and secure of our souls. Thus one should from time to time hunt animals, or at the very least shoot at a mark; one should always drink some kind of fermented liquor with one’s food–and especially deeply upon great feast-days; one should go on the water from time to time; and one should dance on occasions; and one should sing in chorus. For all these things man has done since God put him into a garden and his eyes first became troubled with a soul. Similarly some teacher or ranter or other, whose name I forget, said lately one very wise thing at least, which was that every man should do a little work with his hands.

Oh! what good philosophy this is, and how much better it would be if rich people, instead of raining the influence of their rank and spending their money on leagues for this or that exceptional thing, were to spend it in converting the middle-class to ordinary living and to the tradition of the race. Indeed, if I had power for some thirty years I would see to it that people should be allowed to follow their inbred instincts in these matters, and should hunt, drink, sing, dance, sail, and dig; and those that would not should be compelled by force.

Now in the morning Mass, you do all that the race needs to do and has done for all these ages where religion was concerned; there you have the sacred and separate Enclosure, the Altar, the Priest in his Vestments, the set ritual, the ancient and hierarchic tongue, and all that your nature cries out for in the matter of worship.

(from The Path to Rome)

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