Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"By What Authority" -Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson

(reprinted from the combox. thanks Lisa!)

"Public worship to her had meant hitherto one of two things - either sitting under a minister and have the word applied to her soul in the sacrament of the pulpit; or else the saying of prayers by the minister aloud and distinctly and with expression, so that the intellect could follow the words, and assent with a hearty Amen. The minister was a minister to man of the Word of God, an interpreter of His Gospel to man.

But here was a worship unlike all this in almost every detail. The priest was addressing God, not man; therefore he did so in a low voice, and in a tongue as Campion had said on the scaffold, "that they both understood." It was comparitively unimportant whether man followed it word for word, for (and here the second radical difference lay) the point of the worship for the people lay, not in an intellectual apprehension of the words, but in a voluntary assent to and participation in the supreme act to which the words were indeed necessary but subordinate. It was the thing that was done; not the words that were said, that was mighty with God. Here, as these Catholics round Isabel at any rate understood it, and as she, too, began to perceive it, too, though dimly and obscurely, was the sublime mystery of the Cross presented to God. As He looked down well pleased into the silence and darkness of Calvary, and saw there the act accomplished by which the world was redeemed, so here (this handful of disciples believed) He looked down into the silence and twilight of this little lobby, and saw that same mystery accomlished at the hands of one who, in virtue of his participation in the priesthood of the Son of God, was empowered to pronounce these heart-shaking words by which the Body that hung on Calvary, and the Blood that dripped from there, were again spread before His eyes under the forms of bread and wine."


torreon said...

Thanks Lisa! This is beautifully put.

Scelata said...

Incidentally, I did a search right after I read that in the combox, and you can get the entire book on Project Gutenburg.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

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