Monday, August 30, 2004

Padre Pio, "Obi Wan Kenobi" on the New Mass

The late, great Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000) (pictured right), who played Obi Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars cinematic trilogy, always reminded me of the recently canonized Catholic saint and stigmatist, St. Padre Pio (1918-1968) (pictured left), famous for his miraculous discernment of the hearts of those who came to him for Confession from all over Italy during his lifetime. Though Guinness was English and outlived the Italian Padre Pio by thirty-two years, the two were contemporaries for most of their lives and shared not only a profound devotion to their Catholic Faith, but a profound devotion to the traditional Latin Mass of the Roman Rite.

When Padre Pio, even before the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, heard that a New Mass (Novus Ordo) was being prepared, he immediately wrote to Pope Paul VI requesting that he be dispensed from the liturgical experiment and permitted to continue celebrating the Mass according to the traditional rite of St. Pius V. When Cardinal Bacci came to bring him the authorization, he heard Padre Pio mutter, "For pity sake, end the Council quickly!" Padre Pio's response to the conciliar euphoria and promise of a "new springtime in the Church," was to declare: "In this time of darkness, let us pray. Let us do penance for the elect." ("Padre Pio: on Spirituality, Vatican II, and the Novus Ordo Missae")

The deeply private Sir Alec Guinness (a convert to Catholicism), for his part, went on record to say:
"Much water has flown under the Tiber's bridges, carrying away splendor and mystery from Rome since the Pontificate of Pius XII.... [T]he banalities and translations which have ousted the sonerous Latin and Greek are of a supermarket quality which is quite unacceptable. Hand shaking and embarrassed smiles or smirks have replaced the older courtesies: kneeling is out, queuing is in, and the general tone is like BBC radio broadcast for tiny tots...." (Joseph Pearce, Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000].)

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