See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Sunday, August 02, 2009

My excellent Catholic adventure...



Sunday Mass.

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I attended early Mass this morning - but I will not tell you where and don't try to guess either.

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The parish has a deacon - I like deacons - especially when they wear dalmatics that match the priest's vestment - as they do there. The deacon acts with perfect decorum, and when he preaches, everything is good. He's very good. I appreciate married deacons very much.

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This morning the priest gave the homily. It also was good, he's very good. He's newly ordained. I remember once when I first met him and my coworker John and I - never mind.

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Anyway - he began Mass with an intro to the penitential rite mentioning the beautiful morning and directing our attention to God and what we were about to do. Forgive me for saying this but it seemed like an opening monologue one is accustomed to on television - Father was enthusiastic. He was very deliberate with pronunciation as well, adding much emphasis on various words of the prayer. He was connecting extremely well with the audience - err, congregation. Especially at the Eucharistic prayer. He's a good priest. Very sincere.

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So what's my point? Is something wrong with that, you ask? I'm not sure about training for priests, or exactly how it promotes presentation and communication skills with the assembly, but I know there is training for this. I know there is a big emphasis on engaging the assembly, inclusion and active participation - all of those buzz words. This morning Father got an A+ for his performance. Don't get me wrong - he said Mass prayerfully and devoutly and was yet able make eye contact with the worshippers. Nothing wrong with that, right?

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I don't know. It seems stagy to me - too much like a TV special, too much like a performance - too protestant. Some thing's off. Maybe it's just me. it could be that - I'll take the blame. I'll close my eyes or look down during Mass and try to participate recollectedly - oh right - I already do that. I'm going through the dark night maybe? Because I'm having a great deal of trouble with Sunday Mass extravaganzas. I've flat lined... I don't like watching the priest - and that is what one does when he is facing you. And you get distracted by how he looks, how he speaks, how he gestures: "Did he look at me just then? Remember when he was a seminarian and came in the store?" But wait a minute, wait a minute - Mass is so not supposed to be about the celebrant - right? (Maybe I'm wrong, so next time I'll wave back.) Seriously, it seems as if lately when I go to Mass, I fight and wrestle with these interior distractions, not to mention the stress and frustration I experience in trying to assist, to fully participate - and now it seems, just as soon as I receive Communion it is all over and Father is rattling off a litany of announcements.

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It is me, I know it. I'm an awful Catholic - I'm bad. I'm weak. I shouldn't say these things. It is my problem, why discuss it publicly? Perhaps, come fall, I will start going to St. Augustine's - the Extraordinary Form is celebrated there. I've come to the point where I think ad orientum is the way to go for Mass - I just do not need to make eye contact with the priest during the penitential rite or the Eucharistic prayer. I also think not ad-libbing or adding to the rite is better and more prayerful - it's more focused that way. I just don't know why priests have to add to the prayers of the Missal in the Ordinary Form - are the prayers wanting in some way?

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To be sure, I'm just grateful to be able to attend Mass at all, and to have so many churches to chose from. I pray for our priests and bishops.

14 comments:

  1. There is a way to do the OF right- it just doesn't seem available to you.

    At my parish, Msgr. ___ disappears (except during the homily), and he is just a priest, offering the sacrifice in our name and in the name of the Church. (My only gripe is ad orientem, but our Holy Father is working on that, I think.)


    So in my mind there's no need to go to "extraordinary" lengths to "connect" with the Mass. If you have to, parish shop until you find what you want. But I daresay that everything you need can be found in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. (The Mass that the Pope prays every day.) :-p

    Peace.

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  2. I'm sure it is just me Thom - pray for me - I really need prayers. (I've never been more serious.)

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  3. I'll be posting about my "Sunday adventure" a little later. Muc more...um...bile inducing, to say the least.

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  4. Your tale reminds me of a priest I've seen lately. The first time I visited him in confession, after all the normal expected elements, he said "have a nice day!" All day I then pictured a smiley-face in a Roman collar. I wanted to tell him that he may presume penitents will have a nice day, once their sins have been forgiven and they do their penance.

    Same priest? Has it totally backwards. He thanked us for going to Mass last time I saw him. Shouldn't we thank him for giving his life to God, being there day after day for Mass and Confession, being there for Adoration at its appointed times?

    In any case, I'll pray for you.

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  5. fr ray7:04 PM

    Terry: your talents are so many, that I am sure that the Father is well pleased with all that you do.

    I really appreciate being the proud owner of st. sebastian. I know I don't deserve it.

    everytime I look at it, I ask the Lord to bless you. sometimes I think I hear him saying: "Stop it I heard you the first time."

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  6. Fr. Ray, I appreciate your kind comment very much. Thank you.

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  7. I fight the same thoughts at Mass, Ter. It's the same everywhere, unfortunately. It would be nice to just pray and participate at Mass without such distractions. Only a few times in all my life have I not been accosted with the interferences. And most notably were the Novus Ordo Masses I attended at Catholic Familyland in Ohio. It was in an auditorium, and the lights were turned down in the congregation, and all the spotlights were up at the stage (sorry to use that word, but that's what it was, a raised platform). It worked great! The kids in the congregation were all so quiet, all eyes focused on what was going on, on the altar. There were no chances of "eye contact" because the Cardinal (Arinze) and concelebrating priests could not see the congregation cuz they were sitting in the dark, so they were also very focused on the Sacrifice! Loved it!

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  8. Terry--this is precisely why I love my parish so much. Besides the fact that 90% of the masses are said either at the high altar, or in the Lady Chapel, both facing east, and that the santuary itself is so far away from the nave, behind the Rood Screen and past the choir, the priest is the priest and not the MC of a show. But he's his welcoming and engaging self at the back of the church after mass or at coffee in the parish house, when he should be.

    Prayers for you--

    John

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  9. Anonymous9:35 AM

    I totally get where you're coming from -- the same things have been eating at me for years now, to the point where I've stayed away from Mass for extended periods when I just couldn't take it any more. I've resumed regular attendance, but as you've said it's tough to ignore the "showtime" aspects of the liturgy. Add frustration with showboating on top of guilt for missing Mass, and it's no fun. But FWIW, you have my prayers, and you know, I've come to realize that prayer is "it" -- not debate, or anger, or hissy fits, or sulking at home on Sat. eves/Sun. AMs -- we need to humble ourselves before God and pray. After all, what we go through is small potatoes compared to Our Lord's sufferings. God bless you, and keep the faith.

    Regards from Canada,
    Patricia

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  10. +JMJ+

    You told me not to try to guess where you were, Terry, but it might have been in my parish!

    Impossible, I know, but the celebrant where I was opened Mass with a monologue about "possibility" that really would have been better off as part of the homily (especially since he had us standing for about five minutes before he even made the sign of the cross!), and he had an "unusual" way of distributing Communion. All very, very distracting.

    That was the first time I've experienced this priest as a celebrant. The next time I see him, I will brace myself and (I hope!) be less distracted.

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  11. I couldn't agree more.

    I went to one of these parishes two weeks ago in Colorado. I kept screaming inside of my head.... I WANNA BE A CATHOLIC CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHERE I CAN BE A CATHOLIC !! PLEASE ANYBODY.... but no Mr.Terry I seemed to be the only one in the room with issues.
    That was the best Protestant show that I've ever seen. Can someone please tell me why Catholics don't want to BE Catholics.

    I want to be a good wife and mother and I want to be a Catholic. I don't want anything else from life I'm a simple girl, but darned if I cant even have the simpliest of things.
    ................................
    I pray for you often.

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  12. Terry--just sit in the back--then you won't be able to see the priest so up close and personal--and close your eyes during the readings--to help you concentrate on the readings rather than the priest.

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  13. Hi hon. A post on my blog to help you laugh!

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