Friday, May 2, 2008

Nihil Innovatur

The strangest things are happening to the rubrics of the Mass!
Old men like me don’t understand we thought our days would pass
Without disturbance of the way we learnt to celebrate.
Now worship, like the world itself, is in a dreadful state.

Some time ago the priest was sure of what was his to say,
And also that the altar-boys would answer up his way:
Now anything can happen from a hold up to a strike,
Or someone making comments through a nuisance-making mike.

The people used to keep their place, and did not interfere,
Except perhaps to cough or sneeze or snore, But only in the rear:
They wouldn’t dream of singing out or butting in with noise,
Or talking up in Latin like the Clerk and altar-boys.

Young Curates now don’t seem to mind if Mass is started late,
Provided that the people who are there “participate”:
And some would like motets, and psalms and hymns and chants
Distracting to the celebrant and pious maiden aunts.

A plague upon those liturgists and all their fussy ways.
There’s nothing solid in them, ’tis a passing whim or craze:
Old men like we have battled for our faith and fatherland
With nothing but the Scripture and the Sacraments in hand.

Of course we had the Liturgy, a makeshift to be sure,
And more or less a native growth, but still Tradition pure;
We said the Mass and let the people pray as best they could.
That was the way in Penal times, and surely it was good.

"The world is moving on, no doubt, and times have changed a lot.
The Church of Christ must follow - if her net is in a knot.
She’ll never catch the fishes that are milling round the boat:
She needs a change of tackle, sweeter bait and lighter float."

So say professors and divines, who ought to know a lot:
Perhaps old trowlers like myself should try to change our trot:
I’ll read that journal “Worship” and some book on Liturgy,
And maybe when I understand ‘twont seem bizarre to me.

Father Fennelly, circa 1956

1956! Imagine what shock it must have been to this Father - and to whoever who had read this prophetic poem - when all that it contains came to pass 10 years later!

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