Holy hosts and memorable madeleines. The Mass as performance art, revolt and Proustian moment

Kevin O’Donnell

This article explores the Mass from three angles – a piece of performance art; a revolt, and a Proustian moment (utilising his famous madeleine cake incident). Kevin O’Donnell is a priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and is studying modern spirituality at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

It is good sometimes to step back from the familiar and view it with a new gaze. It then can reveal aspects and dynamics that were only partially comprehended or experienced. This is certainly true of the Mass. The result of such an exploration should be to refresh, deepen and encourage faith as a lived experience. This article will explore the Mass from three angles – a piece of performance art; a revolt, and a Proustian moment (utilising his famous madeleine cake incident). This will develop ideas from the work of Julia Kristeva, the French semiologist, philosopher and psychoanalyst. Kristeva was born in Bulgaria of an atheist mother and a practising Eastern Rite Catholic father. Her primary education was by Dominican sisters. She moved to Paris in the 1960s and befriended writers such as Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. Kristeva is an atheist, and though she writes appreciatively about religious texts, ideas and symbols, they are understood as part of a psychodrama of our inner drives and hopes. Her sensitivity to religion led to her invitation in 2011 to Pope Benedict’s Court of the Gentiles, the group set up to dialogue with atheists. She has also befriended Jean Vanier in her work as an advocate for the rights of the disabled.

Login for more...
ad
ad2