This morning I attended Mass at the local parish church.
- I wasn’t greeted at the door, welcomed, given a worship aid or shown to a seat.
- There was no music.
- The pews were oddly arranged and MOST uncomfortable (not a bit of padding to be found).
- At the time to start Mass, an elderly gentleman rang a bell and everyone stood.
- The priest was not blessed with an orator’s voice, it was more of a monotone drone.
- The sound system was not very good.
- The lighting system was not very good.
- People were streaming in (and out) all during Mass.
- Did I mention no music?
- I think the older man next to me fell asleep once or twice.
- The priest prepared the altar and went right into the Eucharistic Prayer while the collection was still being taken. The collection finished about halfway through the Eucharistic Prayer.
- No one held my hand or attempted to hold my hand during the Lord’s Prayer.
- At Communion time, those who wanted to receive just kind of sauntered up to the front, there were no organized lines and no ushers.
- When Mass ended, the priest went back into the Sacristy.
- No one said anything to me as I left.
- No coffee and doughnuts were offered after Mass.
- And lastly – THE MASS (including the readings and homily) WAS IN A LANGUAGE I DID NOT UNDERSTAND!
All the things that I’ve been told that are so essential to the “proper” celebration of Mass were missing – there was no “community” feeling and no encouragement from the priest to make us more of a “community.”
So did I really attend Mass?
Some would say that I didn’t really attend a “good” Mass, or I couldn’t participate in the Mass, or I should stay home or shop around for a “good” parish that has that community feeling.
One little detail – I’m in Italy right now, and the Mass was in Italian at the local parish church – which happened to be built in the 1400’s.
I have to tell you, I did attend Mass. I gathered as the Church tells me I must (CCC 2180). I participated – by interiorly lifting my heart and mind to the Lord, and offering the responses as best I could. I received Holy Communion with great joy. I offered thanks to God for so great a gift as His Son given freely to the world and to me a sinner.
I wasn’t entertained, I wasn’t crooned to, I wasn’t fawned over. I attended the Mass of the Roman Catholic Church, I received our Savior through the Word of God, and through His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion. And I look forward to next Sunday’s Mass, at the same place, at the same time. It is, after all, the “source and summit” of my life, even when I’m not entertained.