THE MASS: I ate some old cheese and had a really weird dream.

A few nights ago I found some really strong cheese at the back of the fridge (probably left over from Christmas). I ate it, and then went to bed. I had the strangest dream…

I was in my Church – the church in which I was Baptised , made my First Holy Communion, Confirmation and got Married in. The church I like to go and sit in, right up next to the Tabernacle to pray. But today I was not sitting praying. Today I was standing. The Tabernacle was open and Jesus was standing just outside it, and I was standing right next to Him. We were looking out over the church.

Let me show you a picture of my church. I have put a big yellow circle round the Tabernacle to show where we were standing in the dream:

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This is the view we had from where we were standing:

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Then Jesus began to show me the history of my church from about 100 years ago. It was like watching a film in fast-forward. The first thing I noticed was a priest directly in front of us dressed in very beautiful ornate vestments. He was wearing a heavily embroidered beautiful sort of cloak thing I haven’t seen before. Anyway, he performed the consecration and then elevated the Host right in front of us – facing us, using the old high altar.  Then I looked at the congregation and I saw women with hats. I was aware of people being born, growing up and dying. And I could see people’s prayers coming up off of them – rising like steam and hovering above them filling the air.

Here is a picture of my church from a long, long time ago:

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Then as time was fast-forwarding I saw physical changes within the church. The high altar was no longer used. I saw the new altar being constructed and put into place about 15 meters away from us. Priests now said Mass facing the congregation instead of facing us. Vestments had become simpler with brighter colours, and the whole thing just seemed a bit less formal. Women no longer wore hats. I saw people wearing short-sleeved tops. People were being born, growing up and dying. There were now 2 atmospheres I could see within the congregation. One was reserved and quiet, uneasy yet still trusting in God. The other was loud and brash and domineering. In parts of the congregation, hearts were growing cold. I looked at Jesus. He wasn’t saying anything, He was just there, showing me all this.

Here is a picture of my church with the new altar put in. This is how I remember my church as a child.

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Then came more building work. Massive building work. The whole layout of the church was changing. The new altar was removed. The altar rails were removed. The Baldacchino was removed and sold to an American pop star (this actually happened in real life). The first 6 pews were removed. The top of the pulpit was removed. The whole sanctuary was brought forward about another 15 meters into the congregation.

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Now the priests was very far away from us. He was right there in the middle of the congregation. All eyes were on him. The congregation were smiling and laughing. People were on the sanctuary dressed in jeans and trainers receiving Jesus in Holy Communion and then distributing Him to others. Holiness had been replaced with a generalised social acceptance and a more day-to-day relaxed attitude. People were being born, growing up and dying. The congregation looked different. People were now coming into the church expecting to gain something for themselves rather than coming to give something to God. People had an expectation to be entertained. Some priests began to entertain. The people laughed and smiled. All eyes were on the priest.

Here is a picture of my church now:

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And as we stood there watching as time past I felt the congregation move further and further away from us. Peoples intention was good, but they were so distant – like the same way people look when they are watching TV and you are trying to talk to them. Distracted I suppose, but more than that. I think it would be more accurate to say that for these people, their parents were distracted but they are just vacant. Their attention seemed not to be able to get past the priest.

This is the view from the Tabernacle during Mass.

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They were happy enough but undernourished. Like how you feel when you have spent a whole week eating nothing but junk food. They did not understand what was happening during the Mass. Prayers no longer rose like steam from the congregation. There was just this deadness. Heaven was all around them but they could not see or feel it. They were blind and deaf to the supernatural. It felt like it really wouldn’t have mattered whether we were there or not because quite frankly, we were just being ignored.

And then it hit me. The horror of what had happened, what was happening. The result of choices and changes over several generations. Slow enough so you would not recognise it in real-time, but as clear as day if you watch it in fast-forward like we were doing. I looked at the congregation and then turned to Jesus, and with tears in my eyes and my voice filled with despair I whispered “They don’t know You’re here…”

Then I woke up.

13 thoughts on “THE MASS: I ate some old cheese and had a really weird dream.

  1. You second to last paragraph about being ‘undernourished’ automatically reminded me of the following…..

    Fr. Hugh Thwaites speaks about the difference between the new Mass and the old Mass in the link below. Fr. Hugh was England’s most beloved priest and as you know there are calls for his canonisation. In the article he recalls the Michael Davies analogy…….

    “There is nothing wrong with the new rite. Rome cannot feed her children with poison. But the new rite of Mass does not give us what we need. Michael Davies’ analogy is helpful here. If a doctor tells a couple that their child need milk every day, and they give the child only water, the child may not live. There is nothing wrong with water. But if the child needs milk, water may not be enough”.

    http://www.vancouvervtms.com/w/TradLatinMasses/Commentary/Thoughts%20on%20the%20New%20Rite%20of%20Mass.htm

    In the article Fr. Hugh speaks of the protestantisation of the Mass.

  2. Brilliant …and thanks for the plug…

    Your piece reminded me of…
    The correspondence between Cardinal Heenan of Westminster and Evelyn Waugh before the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass is well known, in which Waugh issues a crie de coeur about the post-Conciliar liturgy and finds a sympathetic, if ineffectual, ear in the Cardinal.[1] What is not as well known is Cardinal Heenan’s comment to the Synod of Bishops in Rome after the experimental Mass, Missa Normativa, was presented for the first time in 1967 to a select number of bishops. This essay was inspired by the following words of Cardinal Heenan to the assembled bishops:

    At home, it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children.[2]

    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-devirilization-of-liturgy-in-novus.html

  3. Wow. That’s exactly the impression that came to mind as I stood during the consecration at the Cathedral here in St. Boniface, Manitoba, this morning. No kneelers. No bells. Very few people. I usually go to a local parish where these things are still done. I realized that this church building, having been rebuilt in 1965, was the result of a protest of sorts; a rejection of much of what sets God’s house apart. But what is encouraging is that our current Bishop is making efforts to kick start evangelization in this diocese, following the Pope’s lead. Those who don’t know Jesus is there will be encountering Him, and those who only come once or twice a year will rediscover our faith!

    All is not lost as long as we refocus on what can currently be done.

    Very elaborate dream 🙂

  4. My first impression was that it has to be the new way we celebrate the Mass. But then I thought that maybe it is the way we live. We come to the Church full of thoughts the world is feeding us with….internet, social media, loud TV, constant entertaiment, music etc….and even though those things aren’t bad when used wisely, it can be difficult to set a limit to them. So in the result we are no longer able to be in silence, we need noise…( I speak from my perspective but looking around I see it’s not only me who struggle with that). Also, the world is teaching us that fast means good. We seek for fast solutions, we do things as quickly as possible, everything has to work fast..slow is often considered as a weakness. So, we come to the Church stressed, full of that noise and expectations of entertaiment, something that will feed us the way we’re used to….Maybe that’s why we’re so distant from God, the supernatural….because you can worship God in dance and music, but you meet Him in silence and stillness,

  5. This brought to mind my experience a few years ago. I returned after many years to the church I attended as a child with my family, often my grandparents were with us, where I would look at the most beautiful altar and crucifix. It always captured my attention. As I reentered the church I could not believe my eyes. Gone was the beautiful altar, the beautiful crucifix, the statues of Mary and Joseph, the beautiful communion rail, and the beautiful tabernacle. I knelt in utter tears that my church was destroyed. I have never been back there. It is like visiting a ghost town. When beauty is destroyed, the awe and quiet disappear as well. No beauty, no awe, no silence. What is there to capture the attention of people? We know Christ is present. But we have tried so hard to make Him even more hidden. It is so much harder now.

  6. Reblogged this on Deaconjohn1987's Blog and commented:
    Wow! A great post about things I think about every time I go to Mass. Clare, you are young, imagine how us old folks have to deal with all this modernization and destruction of our once beautiful altars! Yes, Jesus, our Lord, is still there, Present in all the Tabernacles of the world, but so many, sadly, ignore His True Presence. Lord, have mercy on us!

  7. I remember my mom always tells me when she attends Mass personally or on TV, “It was different back then. We have misa cantada, bells ringing, families go together, the Mass starts very early in the morning, Latin masses, short but relevant homilies of priests, and beautiful and comfortable Churches.” I understand that our Church has changed to make way for the changes happening in our society but then again, should it not be the other way around? The Church has given so much to the complacency of its members (and I, too, admit of my complacency with regards to my faith). But this should not be. Others may say that elaborate Masses and ornate churches defy the values of simplicity and humility the Church should uphold; but in reality, these things draw us closer to God by captivating our senses and delivering us from worldly distractions around us. These things let us focus on God, not on the good looks of the priests, or the displayed skin of our seatmate in the pews, or of other distractions. Modernization of our churches is not bad, so long as it brings us closer to God; but the way I see and feel it, indeed, we are being taken away from God’s presence. I appreciate that I am not the only one having the same sentiment on our Churches. Let us continuously pray that we may not witness more destruction of the solemnity of our Churches.

    • That made me think about my community Eucharist. I’m in the Neocatechumenal community in which our Masses are very relaxed (but sometimes very beautiful when we celebrate them in the main church). However, very often we have them in separate rooms which aren’t in the main church and we seat in the square, so we face each other. I always struggle with that, and most of the time I can’t concentrate at all, it is difficult to concentrate facing other people seating in the small room, well at least to me. We also have sign of peace when we kiss each other and very often that makes people say little things like, nice to see you etc. which is nice, but I’m not sure it helps. It seems like we can’t be quiet for one hour, maybe because we celebrate Mass in the community in which we know each other well, so it makes the whole atmosphere more relaxed, and also we are in a small room…I don’t know. I have been told that you have to find God in your neighbour and by facing people I need to learn to see Jesus in them. So, I always thought that those feelings of distraction were my problem only, that maybe if I saw Jesus in my brother and sister I would then be able to finaly concentrate at my community Mass….but at the same time I feel I lost the touch of Jesus at those Masses. I have to say that it is all a bit confusing.

  8. Dear Clare,

    Thank you for this moving article which expresses so much and in such a memorable way.

    Thanks also to Mummymayhem for sharing your thoughtful article too.

    We found both of these pieces helpful to us this week.

    May God bless and keep you in His peace.
    In Christ
    Alan and Angeline.

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