May I be permitted, may I permit myself, I wonder, a lamentation here, a cry, even a scream from the heart?
Cry out, as I continue in the personal and autobiographical mode of my last entry – in which entry I also invoked the words of a deceased, anonymous author writing in French, just before the arrival of the new Mass:
“Dear Unknown Friend, imagine to yourself a world without the Church. Imagine a world of factories, clubs, sports, political meetings, utilitarian universities, utilitarian arts or recreations– in which you would hear not a single word of praise for the Holy Trinity or of benediction in its name.
Imagine to yourself a world in which you would never hear ‘Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancti, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper et in saecula saeculorum” or ‘Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, Filius et Spiritus Sanctus’
A world without worship and without benediction … how deprived of ozone the psychic and spiritual atmosphere would then be, and how empty and cold it would be!”
And my point was, that this is the world so many of us have now. I grew up in an Anglophone world where Catholicism was virtually invisible. I grew up with near-total cultural invisibility of the Catholic Mystery.
And I grew up in a world that many find cold indeed. I came to adulthood in the 1980´s.
There was a film then, The Big Chill. The film posters carried a slogan: “In a cold world, you need your friends to keep you warm.” And many remarked that the movie owed its success to the fact that it did indeed starkly evoke the malaise of modern life.
Of course, the number of modern films and books and forms of art, pointing to a cold, atomised, hyper-individualised malaise is legion.
Who am I? I am a Catholic, who despite the near-total cultural blackout on the Catholic Mystery, discovered the Church and converted.
Who am I? I am a Catholic who aspires each day to unite himself with His Body and Blood. I am a Catholic who is warmed, warmed daily by His Body and Blood. I am a Catholic who will gladly suffer the oft inane, trivialised and banalised Novus Ordo to so unite myself.
I am a Catholic also, who after decades of living in England, Scotland and America, began to take up abode in different countries. In Catholic parts of Germany and Switzerland and then in Ireland, France and Spain.
I am a Catholic who saw and felt something different there – in Catholic Spain and Catholic Ireland most of all. Ireland – it was living in this country where I felt the warmest and most communitarian cultural ethos I have ever experienced. Shocking – this kindness and genuine helpfulness of the Irish. Shocking. At times, I reeled.
To the scandal no doubt of many other sectors of the English world from which I stem, sectors proud of their secular and Protestant heritage, I confess I cannot help but see this legendary and real Irish warmth as linked to centuries of faithful practice of the Catholic Mystery.
And a practice which thirsts for daily communion, as I now thirst. At least, when I was in Ireland, the numbers were striking indeed who sought daily communion with the warmth-currents flowing from His Sacred Heart.
Who am I? I am an Anglo-American Catholic who looks out upon the Mystery of uniting warmly with the God-Man and asks why have we constructed this cultural black-out in the Anglo-American world? Why? Why? Why?
The answers are complex indeed and after being permitted this little burst of semi-incoherence from the heart, I will no doubt be returning somewhat less dramatically to the matter of the Anglophone cultural invisibility of the Catholic Mystery – and its consequences.
Post Script: I have other entries on Catholic Ireland, tagged as you can see. But my favourite of these is here. Ostensibly a film review, I hope by the end, it offers rather more than simply a film review.
From Amazon US:
These books can also be found in our Amazon UK store here. The following titles also have Reviews at these links: (Puritan’s Empire) (Meditations on the Tarot) (When Corporations Rule the World).