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And now a word about the Field Mass…

Last week I took a page from “cassock and surplice” Anglicanism–the funeral of World War I flying ace Manfred “Red Baron” von Richtofen–to show what “1662 BCP” Anglicanism looked like in a celebrated event.  The significance of my slighting the alb was well understood.  So I guess a little “equal time” might be in order.  (Well, sort of…)

The “field Mass” is part and parcel with Roman Catholics serving in the various armed forces they do.  In years past and in countries such as Italy and Austria-Hungary, the field Mass was an important part of their military tradition.  (We also see it in our own armed forces as well).

The photo at the right is one reason this is so.  It shows a field Mass during World War I for Italian Alpine troops in the Tyrolean Alps.  Italian Alpine troops were some of their nation’s finest, as were their Austrian counterparts.  Superbly trained and fighting in the most difficult conditions, it was a special duty for a chaplain to minister to them.

In the years immediately following Vatican II, American Catholics were told that, before that watershed event, the Mass was “vertical” in focus, i.e., towards God, while afterwards it was more “horizontal” (community) in emphasis.  Be that as it may, this photo shows the most vertical Mass I have ever seen.

As was the case uniformly before Vatican II, the priest is facing the altar and behind it.  Generally speaking the congregation in its turn is behind the priest.  But, in these conditions, the faithful had to view the elevation of the Host from whatever place they could stabilise themselves in.

We’re still waiting for Anglo-Catholicism to rival this…



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