Sunday, July 08, 2007

My Father's Hand Missal

In another thread this evening, some were discussing where to find hand missals according to the 1962 rubrics. Since prices for these can be quite high, one commentator noted that he has a pair of used missals, and that he is quite content with them.

This reminded me of the St. Joseph Daily Missal that was given to my father on December 23, 1963. Judging by the date, it must have been a birthday present from my grandparents. I remember as a little boy finding this missal up in the attic and paging through it, completely enthralled by those strange foreign words on the left side, and not really sure I recognized many of the English words on the right side. Nevertheless, I knew this little book was a treasure.

Also as a little boy, I remember not wanting to go to Mass at times, and making that quite clear to the elders around me. This conversation would, in certain circumstances, lead others to say, "Well you should be thankful you didn't have to go to Mass in the old days. Back then everything was in Latin and you couldn't understand it. And the priest had his back to you, so you couldn't see what was going on."

Fast forward to Friday. My mother, a convert and no watcher of church politics, sends an email and, unprompted, brings up the rumoured motu proprio. "That sure gets people talking," she said, "but no one I've talked to is dead set against it."

We've gone from "the priest had his back to the people" to "no one I've talked to is dead set against [the TLM]" in the space of my lifetime. Much less, even. Who would ever have dared to think this were possible?

Back to the hand missal. Somehow in early adulthood--and I don't remember how--my father's missal came into my possession. After all, he had no opportunity to use it. I would sit and read through it, green with envy for those who had the privilege to witness such a marvelous liturgy. Finally, when I started attending Traditional Masses at Mater Ecclesiae, this was the missal I took with me, and it's the one I use to this very day. I guard it with my life; I would give up a whole bookcase of volumes and much more before forsaking this little treasure.

However, the thought has occurred to me now that I might have to give it up after all. There is no telling how much of a practical effect this MP will have , but is it not possible that the availability of Masses according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII will become more widely available, even in the most surprising of places, such as rural Pennsylvania? And might my parents and other regular Catholics who have no agenda but who just want to "feel like we've been to church" (an actual quote from about a decade ago) on Sundays show an interest in this Mass?

It's possible, and in such a case, I'd be more than happy to return this missal to its original owner. For while this book once represented what had been and was lost, it now transmits what has been found. And while it used to represent what could have been, it now signals what might be to come.

Dad, if you want your daily missal back, I'll bring it with me next time I visit.

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