Old and New in the Mass of Ages

For the Introduction to this post, click here.

First off the pile is the Summer 2017 issue of Mass of Ages, the magazine of the Latin Mass Society. As you can see, left, it features a nice photograph of Bishop Athanasius Schneider on the cover but we will be ignoring him for three other articles that grabbed my attention.

  • Catholic film making
  • The Old Mass and the New Age
  • The last Habsburg Emperor

Of these three articles, only Catholic film making was a disappointment. However, this is only because I thought it would be about Catholicism in film in general whereas it is actually about the work of EWTN, the Catholic television station.

And to be sure, they are doing a very interesting work. EWTN has made several docudramas based upon the ‘Black Legend’ – events which fairly or otherwise besmirch the reputation of the Catholic Church; namely, The Crusades (in 2014) and The Inquisition (2016). To come is The Reformation, next year, which will focus on Martin Luther. This year, EWTN has taken a break from past controversies to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the appearance of the Blessed Virgin to three children in Fatima, Portugal.

In and of itself the article is a good one. Though very short, I still learnt that the Latin Mass Society co-produced one series on Wales the Golden Thread of Faith and that the docudramas on the Crusades won an award at a film festival in Poland.

***

The Old Mass and the New Age is a review of a book titled Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed by Roger Buck. The article is written by Joseph Shaw, the president of the LMS. He describes how Buck, undertakes  ‘a thorough exploration of the New Age, its history and its character, from a Catholic perspective’. Buck speaks with authority as he used to be a part of the New Age movement before converting (or reverting?) to the Catholic faith. Where does the Old Mass come into it? Well, Buck offers it as the answer to what New Age adherents are looking for. Quoting the late Stratford Caldicott, Shaw says that New Agers desire ‘a transforming contact with mystery’ and that the Old Mass gives it to them. Specifically, the Old Mass; not the New; at least, not in its worst form of ‘pottery chalices, pedestrian prose, and bidding prayers about recycling’.

By and bye, I go to a Novus Ordo Mass every Sunday and have never seen a pottery chalice or heard bidding prayers about recycling. Shaw has got the pedestrian prose bang to rights, though.

The review didn’t make me want to rush out and buy Cor Jesu, but that’s only because the subject matter isn’t one that I have a particular interest in.

***

Finally, The Last Habsburg Emperor. This was my favourite article. Well, it is about a person from the past so that’s not a surprise! Specifically, it is a short biography of Emperor Charles of Austria-Hungary, who tried in vain to bring peace during the Great War. At its end, he was deposed and exiled. He died aged 34 in 1922 ‘uttering the Holy Name of Jesus’. Pope St. John Paul II beatified him in 2004.

As is to be expected, the article looks at Charles through the lens of the Catholic faith. Hence, the Great War allied leaders were ‘grizzled old anti-Christian secularists’; the Italians generals were ‘secularist’. George Clemenceau, ‘born a Protestant… could not be trusted’ and acted ‘deceitfully and treacherously’ towards Charles. We might ignore this obvious bias but I can’t help but think here of how Rudyard Kipling referred to the politicians of the war as being ‘old, cold, and of intolerable entrails.’ (quoting Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor).

From a Catholic perspective, the article is ultimately a heart warming one. For here is a man who suffered greatly but died faithful. From a more worldly perspective it offers nothing but tears for the quality – or lack thereof – of our leaders. Nothing has changed in a hundred years.

This issue of Mass of Ages can be read here

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