The Packed Church
And it came to pass your humble correspondent was at Mass today, and the church was packed. Not “more people than expected” packed; rather “no space to go back to your pew after Communion” packed.
Your humble correspondent, sitting there in the middle of that mass of people, rejoiced, and did not even wonder – as his cynical nature forces him to do everytime he is at your garden variety V II Mass – how many of the present were against, say, abortion or sodomy, much less contraception and premarital sex. What I found striking is that so many people had found the time, in the middle of their busy day, and had decided that God comes first, and all the rest second.
I also wondered how many of your garden variety V II priest have reminded the faithful, last Sunday, that today is a day of obligation in the UK. I do not think they are many. Where I attended last Sunday – a very sad experience, of which I chose not to write – there was no such reminder, though the priest was noted for his high-pitched, vaguely disquieting voice and general demeanour.
But let us go back to today. Your humble correspondent sits there, in the middle of that packed church; and cannot avoid thinking that come rain or shine, Evil Clowns or Angelic Shepherds, a merciful Lord will move the Elect to the right behaviour, and to a good death when their time comes. The times we are living must have, in fact, another phenomenon in place: that God sends on earth an awful lot of Reprobates, who of their own will – and still in accordance with the plans of an Omnipotent God – will merit damnation.
Who knows, perhaps there is a secondary FrancisEffect in this: that some people – perhaps tepid Catholics, perhaps lapsed ones – will be encouraged to rediscover the religion of their fathers; not because of any non-existing orthodoxy of the man, but exactly because they hear what Francis goes spitting around and immediately think: “this is not what I was told!”, thus setting in motion a process of rediscovery.
Perhaps so. Perhaps I am bring my usual optimistic self. Perhaps I am, in fact, clutching at straws.
But it was beautiful, today, to sit in front of a church that reminded me of the masses of my childhood.