A scene from The Country House. via

In the days before the Second Vatican Council, the ordinary practice for Catholic priests celebrating Mass was to stand with their backs to the congregation, facing the altar, the idea being that the priest was not putting on a show for an audience but leading a community in worship. When that changed, and priests fell into the habit of facing the congregation, the act of worship was transformed into an act of theater—the folk guitars and interpretative dance and horrible sub-“Kumbaya” hymns were subsequently inevitable. A strangely inverted version of...

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