A special tradition for the feast. Sine dominico non possumus: Dying to go to Mass. Johnny Gold-mouth says his piece. First Communions: a notorious sinner (of seven years’ age…) and two Episcopalian-convert Roman Catholic priests. A quick trip to the 17th Century, and then: to the moon (with Buzz, not with Alice). “Therefore we, before Him bending….” — Dom Gregory Dix sums it all up.
This homily was preached by Fr. Jürgen Liias June 7, 2015 (Corpus Christi).
The lines quoted by Father Liias appear in a sermon on the Gospel of Saint Matthew Saint John Chrysostom preached in Antioch while still a Presbyter; you can read the passage here. In 2001 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote a letter to his clergy on the 1,600th anniversary of the death of the Saint which contains a good biography and appreciation; it is reproduced in full here on the website of Silverstream Priory, a Benedictine monastery from Oklahoma which moved to Ireland in 2011 under the direction of a remarkable Abbot who is responsible for most of the writing on the site. You can learn more about Silverstream Priory and Dom Mark Daniel Kirby in this interview on the New Liturgical Movement.
The Trappist monk Thomas (later Father Louis) Merton wrote many books; but the one Father Liias quoted, his autobiography THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN, is perhaps the most famous. You can purchase it in several formats from Amazon here.
Several Communicants from our elder sibling in the Anglican Patrimony the Congregation of Saint Athanasius attended Father Liias’ reception into the Catholic Church including Stephen Cavanaugh, long-time editor of the very useful Anglican Use News. If you were not present you can watch his video of the Mass (Father Liias’ first Communion occurs around 52:00).
The lines quoted by Father Liias are the final couplet of George Herbert’s THE AGONIE, published in 1633 as part of THE TEMPLE; you can read the whole poem here. An extensive and good biography and appreciation of this metaphysical poet and Anglican divine is to be found on the website of the Poetry Foundation.
The passage from Alan Paton read by Father Liias is the poem MEDITATION ON A YOUNG BOY CONFIRMED, not in print and difficult to find a copy of or online. It was first published in the August 1958 issue of the journal THEOLOGY. It is quoted in this work on GoogleBooks. A short biography of Paton can be found here.
Buzz Aldrin’s Lunar Communion was not made public by NASA in 1969 and is still not widely known; religion had already become an issue and NASA was embroiled in a lawsuit brought by proto-aggressive atheist Madeline Murray O’Hair over the reading of a passage from Genesis the previous Christmas Eve by the crew of Apollo 8 while they orbited the moon. The story was first published in Norman Vincent Peale’s nonsectarian inspirational magazine GUIDEPOSTS in October 1970. That article is now available on their website (the section read by Father Liias is its conclusion).
A PDF version of Anglican monk Dom Gregory Dix’s 1945 tome THE SHAPE OF THE LITURGY is available online here. If you prefer a copy on your bookshelf you can purchase it from Amazon here. If you don’t care to take up Fr. Liias’ challenge to tackle Dom Gregory’s hefty tome and prefer savoring the book’s final meditation all by itself you could do far worse than to head towards the cyberhome of our own John and Pam Covert and read “This Do.” (you’ll find much else of interest while there).