Mr Bloom put his face forward to catch the words. English. Throw them the bone. I remember slightly. How long since your last mass? Glorious and immaculate virgin. Joseph, her spouse. Peter and Paul. More interesting if you understood what it was all about. Wonderful organisation certainly, goes like clockwork. Confession. Everyone wants to. Then I will tell you all. Penance. Punish me, please. Great weapon in their hands. More than doctor or solicitor. Woman dying to. And I schschschschschsch. And did you chachachachacha? And why did you? Look down at her ring to find an excuse. Whispering gallery walls have ears. Husband learn to his surprise. God’s little joke. Then out she comes. Repentance skindeep. Lovely shame. Pray at an altar. Hail Mary and Holy Mary. Flowers, incense, candles melting. Hide her blushes. Salvation army blatant imitation. Reformed prostitute will address the meeting. How I found the Lord. Squareheaded chaps those must be in Rome: they work the whole show. And don’t they rake in the money too? Bequests also: to the P.P. for the time being in his absolute discretion. Masses for the repose of my soul to be said publicly with open doors. Monasteries and convents. The priest in that Fermanagh will case in the witnessbox. No browbeating him. He had his answer pat for everything. Liberty and exaltation of our holy mother the church. The doctors of the church: they mapped out the whole theology of it.
The priest prayed:
—Blessed Michael, archangel, defend us in the hour of conflict. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil (may God restrain him, we humbly pray!): and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust Satan down to hell and with him those other wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.
The priest and the massboy stood up and walked off. All over. The women remained behind: thanksgiving.
Better be shoving along. Brother Buzz. Come around with the plate perhaps. Pay your Easter duty.
I was immediately drawn to the line “More interesting if you understood what it was all about”. I wanted to understand the allusions to the Catholic faith. I think that line may be a directive to the reader to find the parallels. Lucky for me there is a mountain of writting on this subject and according to the Cliff Notes Martha Clifford represents Martha from the Biblical story of Martha, and Mary. Mary is Molly and the celibate Leopold represents the celibate Christ ( source ).
The scene seems to be Bloom remembering his marriage to Molly and the lack of authenticity of it, both on his part and on Molly’s. It also seems as though Bloom found it insulting the way he was patronized by the priests to the point of holding masses for the repose of his soul.