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Sentiment & Sacramentals

It was clear from these comments that the Team regarded the parishioners hankering after the beautiful marble sanctuary, the main altar, the Stations of the Cross, the Sacred Heart al­tar, Our Lady’s altar and the statues as pure sentimentality. Essentially, this was not only correct but precisely why it was sacrosanct. In fact, the spontaneous and deep-rooted parish sentiment associated with these objects was the unarticulated expression of a proper Catholic theological and liturgical per­spective. Perhaps this was too obvious for the Team.

 “That is the trouble with revolutionaries,” observed Bishop Forester, “they have no sentiments and no nostalgia. They do not love anything and never have … they are incapable of un­derstanding that other people do love and have loved, that the simplest souls are capable of the highest sentiments.”

Fr failed to see in parishioner sentiment the re­flection of reality, preferring instead his erroneous intellectual formula. Bishop Forester, on the other hand, understood that Revealed Truth and its traditional expression as manifested in the pious practices es and reactions of the Catholic faithful, are not easily separated:

A thing can only be revealed if it is expressed: the expres­sion is the revelation. As for the reaction of the faithful, I know nothing more beautiful … than their piety … I love the crucifix worn flat by generations of lips; I love the rosary polished by fingering; I love the Sunday Missal with the binding bursting with countless mortuary cards; I love the artificial flowers around the oleograph of Our Lady; I love the hideous water-stoop held by a Guardian Angel which adorns the bedroom. It is all beautiful – what the revolutionaries do is all ugly because it is presumptuous.4

This arrogant presumptuousness was manifested on countless occasions by the Team and never more so than in the earlier suppression of the Perpetual Novena. It now viewed attachment to mere sacramentals as irrelevant — no more than pious super­stition. Notwithstanding the obvious practical value of sacra­mentals as external aids to prayer, however, even a ridiculous attachment to such ‘incidentals’ at least indicates the presence of virtue: the willingness to believe.