Sunday, August 8, 2010

This wasn’t MY Mass (or was it?)

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.