Dom Anthony replied that those were not the matters principally aimed at by the Injunction; it concerned rather the whole constitution of Christ’s Church, and was a question of the Pope’s or the King’s supremacy over that part of it that lay in England.
Finally the debate was ended by the Prior’s declaration that he could trust no one to preach the enjoined sermon but himself, and that he would see to it on his own responsibility.
It was scarcely an inspiring atmosphere for one who was preparing to take on him the burden of priesthood in the Catholic Church.
SACERDOS IN AETERNUM
It was a day of wonderful autumn peace when Chris first sang mass in the presence of the Community.
The previous day he had received priesthood from the hands of the little old French bishop in the priory church; one by one strange mystical ceremonies had been performed; the stole had been shifted and crossed on the breast, the token of Christ’s yoke; the chasuble had been placed over his head, looped behind; then the rolling cry to the Spirit of God who alone seals to salvation and office had pealed round the high roof and down the long nave that stretched away westwards in sunlit gloom; while across the outstretched hands of the monk had been streaked the sacred oil, giving him the power to bless the things of God. The hands were bound up, as if to heal the indelible wound of love that had been inflicted on them; and, before they were unbound, into the hampered fingers were slid the sacred vessels of the altar, occupied now by the elements of bread and wine; while the awful power to offer sacrifice for the quick and the dead was committed to him in one tremendous phrase.
Then the mass went on; and the new priest, kneeling with Dom Anthony at a little bench set at the foot of the altar steps, repeated aloud with the bishop the words of the liturgy from the great painted missal lying before him.
How strange it had been too when all was over! He stood by a pillar in the nave, beneath St. Pancras’s image, while all came to receive his blessing. First, the Prior, pale and sullen, as always now; then the Community, some smiling and looking into his eyes before they knelt, some perfunctory, some solemn and sedate with downcast faces; each kissed the fragrant hands, and stood aside, while the laity came up; and first among them his father and Mary.
His place too in the refectory had a flower or two laid beside it; and the day had gone by in a bewildering dream. He had walked with his father and sister a little, and had found himself smiling and silent in their company.
In the evening he had once more gone through the ceremonies of mass, Dom Anthony stood by, and watched and reminded and criticised. And now the morning was come, and he stood at the altar.
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