Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pope Silvester Says Mass

Silvester's bearing at mass was singularly unostentatious. He moved as swiftly as any young priest, His voice was quite even and quite low, and his pace neither rapid nor pompous. According to tradition, He occupied half-an-hour ab amictu ad amictum; and even in the tiny empty chapel He observed to keep His eyes always downcast. And yet this Syrian [the pope's chaplain] never served His mass without a thrill of something resembling fear; it was not only his knowledge of the awful dignity of this simple celebrant; but, although he could not have expressed it so, there was an aroma of an emotion about the vestmented figure that affected him almost physically—an entire absence of self-consciousness, and in its place the consciousness of some other Presence, a perfection of manner even in the smallest details that could only arise from absolute recollection. Even in Rome in the old days it had been one of the sights of Rome to see Father Franklin say mass; seminary students on the eve of ordination were sent to that sight to learn the perfect manner and method.
—Robert Hugh Benson, Lord of the World.


The Curé himself wept when he preached, and he smiled when he spoke of things which made him happy. And he wept or smiled as he said Mass, according to whether he was sad or glad. His demeanour at the altar was perfect: every word was properly pronounced, every gesture clear; there was no rushing back to the centre of the altar muttering the "per omnia saecula saeculorum" of the last postcommunion as he went. He went neither too quickly nor too slowly. Thirty minutes ab amictu ad amictum was the Curé’s time, and his aspect during those thirty minutes often converted unbelievers.
—Bruce Marshall, The Curé of Ars.