ALAN McELWAIN REPORTING R. EVELYN WAUGH'S recent contrast between sound and silence at Mass struck in me a chord of music like the sound of a grand Amen.
I have experienced the turbulent Teutonic version of the dialogue Mass in that church in Hamburg St.• Elizabeth's, I think which the vernacular zealots were for ever holding up as an example to us all, long before the Ecumenical Council materialised. I confess that with all the thunderous responses and clamourous hymns. I found it difficult to decide where the line (if any) was drawn between fervour and furor.
And the other Sunday in a French town, I struck a dialogue Mass which had much less zip than the German version, hut was run along the lines of an orchestral performance, with two spirited "conductors" in the sanctuary besides the celebrant. Ong, a young priest. led the congregation in certain responses, then the parish priest would rise at stages from his seat on the Epistle side and Lake over. waving his arms about and sonorously goading the (I must say responsive) people with the aid of the inevitable microphone. Years ago, when I joined the Catholic Church in New Zealand -I was received. Mr. Waugh will, I hope, be happy to know. in the deathly midnight silence of a seminary chapel. with only my friend the Rector and one of his staff present a bishop gave me a missal titled "Pray the Mass". "Always do just that". he admonished. I promised I would.
Sound and fury I ADMIT NOW, however, that I'm dialogued if I can pray the Mass amid sound and fury and with people in the sanctuary behaving like a cross between the late Sir Thomas Beecham and a frustrated Olympic hurdler. have also had a good deal of trying to pray the Mass against fearful odds since I came to live in Italy. Here, as many people know, congregations frequently behave as though they were at a picnic race meeting, and the clerical idea of priest-people relationship takes the form of a priest starting to preach the moment the Mass begins and keeping doggedly at it almost until the end.
Admittedly, the preacher graciously pauses for the Consecration, but many a time I've seen him jump to his feet immediately after it and launch once more into his marathon tirade. So far, I have never heard him remark: "As I was saying when I was interrupted". But you never know . . • Facing the people
HE ECUMENICAL COUNCIL'S liturgy changes have resulted in a full-scale experiment in Milan's famous cathedral. The High Altar there is to remain unused in future, except, presumably, on extraordinary occasions.
Archbishop Giovanni Colombo, who succeeded Pope Paul as Archbishop of Milan, has decreed the setting up of a new altar below the cupola and down among the people. The celebrant at Mass will face the people and generally the new altar will mean closer contact between priest and congregation. Archhishop Colombo says. The new altar dominates its surroundings, and is on a dais reached by three steps. First Mass was celebrated last Saturday. The vernacular has also been introduced in the reading of lessons and parts of the Mass recited together by priest and faithful.
St. Peter story denied -ST. PETER was Never in Naples!" thundered a heading on a semi-official Vatican communique with such finality that I began to wonder, guiltily, if I had ever said he was. It appears that a new local breviary for the Naples archdiocese has "eliminated an ageold inaccuracy" by ruling that St. Peter did not stop off at Naples before going to Rome, as has generally been believed. The local story also had it that while he was there, he baptised the city's first two Christians, Candida and Aspreno, first bishop of Naples. Now the watchdogs on saints in, the Congregation of Rites, who nol long ago demoted St. George and outlawed St. Philomena have established that St. Aspreno lived in the second century A.D. and St. Candida in the fourth. As Sl. Peter lived in the first century, that's the end of that.
Thoughtful beggar A VENERABLE "regular" at the venerable Church of San Luca in Verona is missing during the present hot summer spell, but has thoughtfully left an explanation for his "customers". "Absent on Holiday The Beggar of San Luca" reads a notice stuck up on the church bulletin hoard, among the matrimonial announcements and warnings to visitors to be dressed decently before entering the holy place. "The Beggar of San Lucafew people have ever worried about his real name -is in the 70's and has stood outside the church, poinely soliciting alms. for many years. He is sad, dignified and clean, and his suit, although well worn, is always neat,
Nobody knows where he is spending his vacation, but, like the late General MacArthur. he has indicated, on his notice, that he will return.
Milhaud work in Perugia A COMPOSITION inspired by the late Pope John's encyclical "Peace on Earth" is to be featured in the 19th annual Unibrian Music Festival, opening in Perugia on September 23. The work is by French cornposer Darius Milhaud. who lives in California. Several of the festival performances will he given in Pertigia's Italian Gothic cathedral.
Teasers for students "ABSURD QUESTIONS" concerning the colour of the hero's eyes in the opera, "The Betrothed", the name of the 19th century Italian writer Ugo Foscolo's fourth mistress, and how much the poet Giosue Carducci, who died in 1907, paid for his villa have angered parents of students who failed their final examinations at two Rome colleges.
Of a total of 101 students,
62 failed outright and 31 were told to repeat the examination next month. Protesting to the Italian Education Ministry about the severity of the examinations, parents also claim that all 101 students were orally examined in barely seven hours, meaning that it took only three minutes to eliminate each of those who could not answer the qhestions. "Can it be said that the questions of the type chosen by the examining commission are a fair test of a student's cultural maturity'?" asked Mr. Carlo Pasquini, father of one of the boys who hadn't the least idea who Foscolo's fourth, let alone first. second and third, mistresses were.
Sportsmen's choice ITALIAN SPORTSMEN are to have the choice of two dates for the opening of the shooting season in Italy instead of one national day, as in the past, The Agriculture Ministry has announced the opening dates as August 23 for migratory game, and September 6 for non -migratory.
The change has been made at the request of provincial administrators. They pointed out that the diversity of climate and customs throughout the long Italian peninsula make it difficult to choose one opening day for the entire country that suits the seasonal vagaries of the various areas, By having a two-week gap between the two opening dates, instead of massed sportsmen banging away simultaneously, the authorities also hope to preserve more game, especially the non-migratory kind, which is difficult and expensive to replenish. Splitting the opening of the shooting season may also result in smaller bags, at any one time, of huntsmen winged by fellow huntsmen. In previous years, the combined shooting season has invariably opened with startling casualtieo not only among the game but the gamesters too, First in the field LOVELY EINE in a Rome movie company's handout: "English actor Richard Harris has just completed. in 7'he Bibb.. the role of Cain, srorilrs first murderer".