The Mass in literature, part 2

(Part 1 was a quote in this post from W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge.)

The dawn of Sunday did not break at all. The fog that had formed in the night only became a little lighter and more visible as it moved in quiet swathes along the quays, sometimes making silent whirlpools at the street corners, where it met a current of air. The slight increase in light was not enough to wake Dr. Maturin, however, and the two nurses with whom he had contracted to go to early Mass were obliged to beat on his door to rouse him.

He hurried into his clothes, but even so the priest was on the altar by the time they reached the obscure chapel in the side-alley, and crept into the immensely evocative smell of old incense. There followed an interval on a completely different plane of being: with the familiar ancient words around him, always the same, in whatever country he had ever been (though now uttered in a broad Munster Latin), he lived free of time or geography, and he might have walked out, a boy, into the streets of Barcelona, blazing white in the sun, or into those of Dublin under the soft rain. He prayed, as he had prayed for so long, for Diana, but even before the priest dismissed them, the changed nature of his inner words brought him back to the immediate present and to Boston, and if he had been a weeping man it would have brought the tears coursing down his face.

Patrick O’Brian, The Fortune of War, New York:W.W. Norton, 1991 (originally published 1979), pp. 256-257.

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2 thoughts on “The Mass in literature, part 2

  1. Pingback: Mass roundup | Petty Armchair Popery

  2. Pingback: The Mass in literature, part 4 | Petty Armchair Popery

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