Sunday, April 30, 2017

Buona terza Domenica dopo la Pasqua

Yesterday I just felt not very well. I think I was having a bad reaction to the supplements I take. (It's a post-chemo thing.) I forget sometimes that they can irritate if you take them on an empty stomach. Anyway, yuck. Bad morning, followed by a day-long headache, so I decided that being horizontal on the sofa was a better idea than tramping into Perugia on the bus for the afternoon Mass. That made this the Sunday for attending the local parish, ad experimentum. I'm happy to report that the parish in San Martino in Campo is quite a flourishing one, as Italian rural parishes go. People seem to go because they want to, which is good (better than Norcia where you get the impression that no male over the age of six darkens the door of a church if he isn't being carried in by six of his friends and relations.) They've got a good group of Adorers every Thursday in a little chapel that has been rather nicely renovated for the purpose. And the church of San Martino itself is quite lovely. And it really is a good feeling to join the local community for the main Mass. Just going to church, like a normal person, in a normal way, in a normal parish has a lot to be said for it.

The village of San Martino is quite a nice little place, actually. Doing a bit of reading around the internet to discover that it is relatively new. The valley of the Tiber has created a fertile flood plain that is now used as abundantly productive farm land. But until the tenth century it was considered swampy and malarial, and was mostly uninhabited.

"Of fundamental importance for the birth of towns along the Tiber valley, then, was the Benedictine reclamation implemented by the monks of San Pietro in Perugia since the tenth century. It was not until 1163 when Emperor Henry IV received under his protection the bishop Giovanni and Perugia Church, that we will find in a document for the first time of the existence of the church of San Martino in Campo. The small rectory there already belonged to the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, and as evidenced by the title of parish was equipped with the baptismal font, and it had a small land ownership and had the right to demand tithes."

The current church, however, is not so venerable. Though it is very pretty, having been completely rebuilt from 1815 by Giovanni Perugia Cerrini. Originally there was only a little chapel here, suffragan to the older parish in San Martino in Colle ("in the hills," which is the twin village to ours about five minutes away by car). It was built to provide religious services for agricultural workers, and archaeologists think that was some time between the 8th and 10th century. There was certainly a defensive castle in S. Martino in Campo perhaps as early as the 11th century, and I'm guessing this is on the site of a rather posh hotel that takes up the main part of the exact centre of the village, today. The earliest record of the church here being an independent parish is 1382.

This makes San Martino in Campo very new place indeed. (Compare with Norcia, that was settled in the late Neolithic, possibly by refugees from either warfare or natural disasters from Sicily.)

But I'm starting to become fond of it. After a rather harrowing trip home on the last bus last Saturday, I was more glad than I could say to get back to the quiet little village, pick up my bicycle from the bar where I left it that afternoon, and pedal slowly home (in the absolute pitch dark... from now on, I'm going to be taking my reflectors and helmet for evening rides around here... no street lights at all in the country, and lots of potholes!) City life just ain't for me anymore.

One little note about the church: this is true. The local people have a real devotion to their lovely medieval fresco, apparently a survivor from the original church...

"The fresco depicting the Madonna and Child popularly called "Madonna della Scala." Today [it is above] the main altar of the parish church of San Martino in Campo and still revered by the population, it was found on 10 January 1701 during the renovation works carried out in church that demanded the removal of a staircase leading to the house parish, hence the name by which it is known today. This unexpected discovery was the origin of a vast movement of popular devotion, which attracted crowds of pilgrims from surrounding countryside."

And indeed, there it is above the taberncle at the peak of the lovely high altar. And the local devotion continues. At the back of the church, there is a little table and someone has made little wooden folding diptych sort of things with a little reproduction of the icon on one side and a devotional prayer on the other. Small enough to fit in a pocket or handbag. And there's a book. But more people were buying the little wooden diptych things. I'll have to get one.

Here is my "review" of this morning's Mass.

- It seems like a nice crowd, and obviously wanted to be there.
- Good mix of young and old, men and women.
- Very pretty church, and nicely kept up and not at all badly novusordoed. Hardly noticed it.
- Beautiful statues and stained glass (19th century, I think, but top quality)
- Blessed Sacrament reserved in the original tabernacle on the high altar
- Adoration chapel (newly refurbished) and used at least once a week for adoration

- Guitar "choir" that never once gave us an instant of peace, populated by young persons with no musical training...the usual horrifying screeching (though still less screechy than the Cat Stranglers at San Giuseppe in S. Mar.) and has apparently been instructed to ensure that they "cover" every moment the priest isn't actually talking. (No one in the congregation sang along, of course.)
- Pretty sure the priest (nice African guy, spoke Italian with no discernible accent) said something along the lines of "without the community there is no word of God..." aaahhhh, yeah... So from now on I guess I'll just read the Matins homily from the D. Office.
- the usual Italian thing of the "presider's chair" placed in the centre behind the altar and in front of the tabernacle (do they really not understand what message that gives? Is it on purpose? "Pay no attention to that God behind the curtain! Look at meeeee!!!!")
- nearly everyone received standing and in the hand
- Young person serving Mass in a t-shirt and jeans, also doled out Holy Communion with his grubby, unconsecrated paws all over the Sacred Species
- Exactly zero time for quiet prayer after. At the end, everyone jumped up out of their pews and started talking as loudly as possible.


Bearable for those times when I didn't get into Perugia for the MOAT the evening before, as long as I sit in the back and read the readings and get out before the yammering starts.


I've come to treat the novus ordo as a place you go strictly in absolute necessity. A kind of quasi-protestant gathering that barely fulfills the canonical requirements of the Sunday obligation, but at which one does not dare receive Communion for fear of participating in sacrilege, conscious or unconscious.

What a lovely time this is in the church! When you sit in the Mass, rather desperately admiring the pre-revolutionary architecture and art, in hopes of mentally drowning out the cacophony of abuses, heresies and outrages against the Sacred, doing everything you can to resist the urge to stick your fingers in your ears and start humming Palestrina.



Anonymous said...

We also go to our local Novus Ordo only out of necessity. The "choir" in these places is disturbing to say the least. I'm in New Hampshire. We travel 40 mins to attend an FSSP church, usually.

Kathleen1031 said...

I relate! Oh my word. I agree completely with your point about it just being NICE to attend your local parish with a friendly community. I get that now, and I'm not much of a joiner, but I have enjoyed the last 15 years of attending a local Polish parish. There are down sides, but not as many as you are talking about. Still, it's got enough down sides to leave us sad. EF Mass is 40 minutes away.

It's not easy being a faithful Catholic right now. It's getting to me a bit.
I wish you would not ride home in the dark. Too many crazies in the world. For a woman today this is a very dangerous practice. Please reconsider.

Cynthia said...

One should never assist at a Novus Ordo Mass of necessity.It would be better to pray a holy hour,then read the true Mass and afterwards make a Spiritual communion of reparation.