Thursday, July 22, 2004

What would John Adams have said about a Novus Ordo Mass?

John Adams (1735-1826), second President of the United States, like the ecumenical George Washington, was known to have visited Old St. Mary's, which later became the first Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Diocese of Philadelphia (1810-38).  In 1774, Adams and Washing-ton were both delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and they once took a day off from their deliberations to visit some of the churches in Philadelphia, including the "Romish chapel" (St. Mary's).  Fascinated and revolted by his first experience of this alien phenomenon of the Catholic Mass, Puritan-born Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail:
"This afternoon's entertainment was to me most awful and affecting; the poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood.... The dress of the priest was rich white lace....The altar piece was very rich, little images and crucifixes about; wax candles lighted up.  But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds!  Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination -- everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell."
Imagine anyone saying that of the contemporary "we are fa-mi-ly" guitar-and-song fest called the New Mass!

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