In fact, properly speaking, no parish priest has any convictions on politics. At the back of his mind, he regards the state as an enemy that has usurped the temporal power of the Pope. Being an enemy, the state must be exploited as much as possible and without any qualms of conscience. Because of this innate and perhaps unconscious hostility to the state as an institution, the parish priest cannot see that it is the duty of a citizen to endeavour to make political life as morally clean as possible. He cannot see that the community as a whole must always come into the forefront of every citizen's political consciousness and that personal interests must be sacrificed to the interests of the nation. No. The parish priest regards himself as the commander of his parish, which he is holding for His Majesty the Pope. Between himself and the Pope there is the Bishop, acting, so to speak, as the Divisional Commander. As far as the Civil Power is concerned, it is a semi-hostile force which must be kept in check, kept in tow, intrigued against and exploited, until that glorious day when the Vicar of Christ again is restored to his proper position as the ruler of the earth and the wearer of the Imperial crown.This point of view helps the parish priest to adopt a very cold-blooded attitude towards Irish politics. He is merely either for or against the government. If he has a relative in a government position, he is in favour of the government. If he has a relative who wants a position and cannot get it, then he is against the government. But his support of the government is very precarious and he makes many visits to Dublin and creeps up back stairs into ministerial offices, cajoling and threatening. He is most commonly seen making a cautious approach to the Education Office, where he has all sorts of complaints to lodge and all sorts of suggestions to make. Every book recommended by the education authorities for the schools is examined by him, and if he finds a single idea in any of them that might be likely to inspire thought of passion, then he is up in arms at once. Like an army of black beetles on the march, he and his countless brothers invade Dublin and lay siege to the official responsible. Woe to that man.
Much water has flown under Tiber's bridges, carrying away splendour and mystery from Rome, since the pontificate of Pius XII. The essentials, I know, remain firmly entrenched and I find the post-Conciliar Mass simpler and generally better than the Tridentine; but the banality and vulgarity of the translations which have ousted the sonorous Latin and little Greek are of a super-market quality which is quite unacceptable. Hand-shaking and embarrassed smiles or smirks have replaced the older courtesies; kneeling is out, queueing is in, and the general tone is rather like a BBC radio broadcast for tiny tots (so however will they learn to put away childish things?) The clouds of incense have dispersed, together with many hidebound, blinkered and repressive attitudes, and we are left with social messages of an almost over-whelming progressiveness. The Church has proved she is not moribund. ‘All shall be well,’ I feel, ‘and all manner of things shall be well,’ so long as the God who is worshipped is the God of all ages, past and to come, and not the idol of Modernity, so venerated by some of our bishops, priests and mini-skirted nuns.
The Mass is a mystery," said Lady Mary slowly. "That means that the more you look into it the more you can find in it, and what you find in it is always love, the love of God. When Christ died for all mankind on the Cross of Calvary all men were not present; they were far away, some in space and some in time, some dead long since, some not yet born, and yet the sacrifice was made for all. When He rose again He drew all men up into the life of God, and yet all men were not there with Him at that time. So He gave us Himself again, in a way that could reach all men everywhere. At the beginning of His Passion, on the night of His betrayal, He offered His own flesh and blood to God the Father under the form of bread and wine. And after His resurrection He gave power to His apostles to present Him in this way to God and to each other. Priests receive the power of the apostles to consecrate this sacrifice so that the bread and wine become the most glorious Body and Blood of Our Lord, and we poor sinners, separated from Him though we seem to be, may be made one Body with Him, and live with His eternal life, which is the love in the very being of the most blessed Trinity.
She had no need in her heart for either book or magazine. She had her own way of escape, her own passage into contentment: her rosary. That string of white beads, the tiny links worn in a dozen places and held together by strands of white thread which in turn broke regularly, was, bead for bead, her quiet flight out of the world. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. And Maria began to climb. Bead for bead, life and living fell away. Hail Mary, Hail Mary. Dream without sleep encompassed her. Passion without flesh lulled her. Love without death crooned the melody of belief. She was away: she was free; she was no longer Maria, American or Italian, poor or rich, with or without electric washing machines and vacuum cleaners; here was the land of all-possessing. Hail Mary, Hail Mary, over and over, a thousand and a hundred thousand times, prayer upon prayer, the sleep of the body, the escape of the mind, the death of memory, the slipping away of pain, the deep silent reverie of belief. Hail Mary and Hail Mary. It was for this that she lived.
The Church is always God hung between two thieves. Thus, no one should be surprised or shocked at how badly the church has betrayed the gospel and how much it continues to do so today. It had never done very well. Conversely, however, nobody should deny the good the church has done either. It has carried grace, produced saints, morally challenged the planet, and made, however imperfectly, a house for God to dwell in on this earth.To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child molesters, murderers, adulterers, and hypocrites of every description. It also, at the same time, identifies you with the saints and the finest persons of heroic soul within every time, country, race, and gender. To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul...because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.