On a Sunday in July, it was very hot in Calabria, in southern Italy, so Don Mattia Bernasconi decided to celebrate Mass in the water, facing the beach. He said bluntly: “It was 10:30 a.m. and the sun was scorching, so we decided to head for the only comfortable place: in the water.”
The following is an editorial by Fr. Alain Lorans.
The Church admits that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass may be celebrated outside a consecrated place of worship, due to exceptional circumstances, for the good of souls. One thinks of those heroic military chaplains saying Mass on a cannon carriage for Poilus who would soon mount an assault, at the sacrifice of their lives.
Here it is for reasons of “comfort” that this 36-year-old priest decided to celebrate Mass in a bathing suit on an inflatable mattress, an altar-air mattress. This obvious loss of the sense of the sacred manifests in a flashy way the spirit of a liturgical reform which is usually intended to be more discreet, less shocking.
The fact remains that this reformed liturgy has itself led to sacrifice the sense of the sacred: in the name of comfort, it adapts to the meteorological and ideological climate. The altar-air mattress is floating, like doctrine and morality, over the waves that follow one another, without a firm anchor in Tradition. And the new liturgy is regulated by the ambient temperature.
The prosecutor's office in Crotone, where this aquatic mass took place, admittedly launched an investigation into the celebrant in swimming trunks, for “an offense against a religion.”
But the Archdiocese of Crotone-Santa Severina was content to recall that it was “necessary to maintain the minimum (sic) of decorum and care for the symbols required by the very nature of liturgical celebrations,” recognizing - with the pastoral indulgence in vogue today – that “in certain special cases, during retreats, school camps, holidays, it is possible to celebrate Mass outside a church.”
The diocese added that it is “always necessary to contact the ecclesial leaders of the place where you are, in order to advise each other on the most appropriate way to carry out such a Eucharistic celebration,” etc.
It makes you wonder whether the archdiocesan authority would not advise calling on a ceremonial lifeguard in the future.
In reality, Traditionis Custodes and Desiderio Desideravi promote the exclusive use of the Mass of Paul VI, and ipso facto favor the permeability of the liturgy to the spirit of the modern world, brandishing the need for an “inculturated” pastoral. This is why these two Roman documents so aggressively denounce the imperviousness of the Tridentine Mass to current fashions.