The sufferings and trials and tribulations were all behind us. We were the heirs to all the stored-up graces that the Church had earned throughout these 1,900 years.
I'm sure the author didn't intend it this way, but this seems to confirm what other elderly folks have said in the past: the Church had become overconfident, and thus, lazy. Sufferings and tribulations behind us, all that remains is to inherit the stored-up graces ... and while everyone was drifting off to sleep, the robbers crept in unnoticed.
Although the present-day vernacular is more coherent, at 6:30 AM the quiet prayers of the priest were more satisfying to the soul than all the present-day vernacular vocalizing.
What a beautiful way to put it! There's a reason for this - two, actually. First, it was an early morning Mass - and those are always more contemplative and quiet. With good reason does the Psalmist say "early will I rise to seek Thee," and I have always found that early morning prayers or early morning Mass are infinitely more satisfying to the soul than mid-morning prayers or mid-morning Mass. Second, the Latin Mass is non-intrusive; it features a priest who couldn't care less about your presence in the pew, because he's got prayers to recite and they need to be recited facing God. How does this disturb the laity in the pew? In contrast, the New Mass features a priest who is always, so it seems, "in your face," demanding your attention and "active participation" in the kinds of activities for which you simply cannot just manufacture excitement. He wants to dialogue with you, but you want to talk to God; both cannot be done at once, any more than you could sustain a conversation with a friend over coffee while also engaging in deep contemplative prayer.
If the Catholic Church did not teach the Truth, then this Church was not the one true Church. If she was not the one true Church, then Jesus Christ Himself was not God. If Jesus Christ was not God, then there is no God.
Absolutely beautiful. This is exactly why I warn my Protestant friends and family to stop trying to convert me out of Catholicism - because I feel exactly the same way: in short, if the Catholic Church isn't the one true Church, there is no God, and if there is no God, then I sure as heck won't be wasting my life in the pew of a Protestant church. If the Catholic Church isn't the one true Church, I'm going to dive headfirst into hedonism and drink in pleasure until I explode. There is no in-between. It's either Catholicism or Paganism, as far as I'm concerned. The Protestant in between these two extremes is just too indecisive or cowardly to make a full pledge of allegiance to either; not religious enough to go all the way to Catholicism, but just religious enough to stay out of full-load paganism.
At any time of the day the church would be crowded with the faithful who would "drop in" to pay a visit to Jesus in the Tabernacle. All day long, when one entered a church, many of the faithful would be kneeling at the altar rail or at the feet of the Blessed Mother or in front of their favorite saint.
That was back when they didn't lock parish buildings all afternoon. It was also, as he said, during a period of great trial and tribulation; we tend to get more spiritual during those times, and thank God, the Catholic Church was there to receive these wandering souls during the wars and economic crises. I fear for this generation; if we were to go through another Great Depression, where would the faithful turn? Who would be the dispenser of that deeply spiritual and supernatural religion which alone can offer sustenance during those difficult times?
The Tabernacle! The Tabernacle was located high in the center of the altar. No matter which church one entered, the Tabernacle was always in the center of the altar. In those days, we were confident that not even an atomic bomb could displace our beloved Tabernacle.
What can you even say to that?
So began the beginning of the end of Confession.
This is obviously bad; but it seems that it was almost worse before, if this author's experience was at all common - just "popping in" to go to Confession before a night of revelry on the weekend. If that was a normal thing for Catholics prior to the Council, to adopt and practice the attitude of "oh well, I sinned, I can just go to Confession," then it's no wonder God took away our Traditional rites. We were unworthy of them.
More often than not, the sermon would weave the scriptural reading of the day into a practical guidance for our everyday life.
This seems a bit of a romanticization; I don't see this kind of thing in practice nearly anywhere today. I have met maybe two priests who were capable of delivering a sermon that was based on the day's readings; the overwhelming majority of them treat the readings as almost incidental. A reading from St. Peter ... a Reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew ... and now let's talk about the example of sanctity given to us by St. Fill-in-the-blank, whose feast day was earlier this week; or, let's talk about the reverence we must have for the Eucharist; or, let's talk about the crisis in the Church today. Not that any of those things is not worth discussing (although the latter has very limited legitimacy in the context of a homily), but neither are they usually related to the actual readings of the day. It's too bad. It gives the impression that the readings are arbitrary and secondary in the whole grand scheme of things, rather than what they really are: a necessary preparation for the the reception of Communion.
The priests of the day were not shy or reluctant to discuss sexual morality. It was from the pulpit that most of us received our healthy sexual education.
I know a number of Trads who would not say that this is a good thing! Should a priest speaking to a mixed audience (both in age and gender) be talking about sexual morality or sexual education?
Anyway, thanks for posting this essay - it was, in many ways, quite beautiful.