Seemed like old times.
The first parish I ever registered at was St. Olaf in Downtown Minneapolis - that was in the 1980's. I was able to make it to morning Mass there today - the first Mass at 7 AM. Fr. Kennedy celebrated the Mass - seemed like old times because he was newly ordained when I first started going there way back when, for adoration on Thursdays. That was the olden days in the early 1970's - shortly after mu conversion, when hardly any church still had exposition all day - which was usually on Fridays - as at Assumption in St. Paul. Fr. Kennedy always had the reputation of a more 'liberal' priest but I always found him orthodox in homilies and confession. This morning it could have been the Pope giving the homily ... it was excellent.
Notably, the chapel was fairly full for such an early Mass, mostly businessmen in their 30's or 40's, a few older guys, and what seemed to be downtowners - people who live someplace downtown. Like I said - there were mostly men. Everyone knelt for the Eucharistic prayer and at the Agnus Dei. After communion I don't know what happened. I mention this because there is a lot of talk that men don't go to Mass. Just because men were at Mass this morning - and most likely every morning noon and evening at St. Olaf, doesn't mean that observation is wrong of course - but it does indicate to me that men really do go to Mass.
Mass this morning was not effeminate. Fr. Kennedy is a 'manly man' and a serious minded priest and Mass was celebrated according to the rubrics. The men at early Mass seemed like manly men as well. I wasn't on watch there, but I took in the crowd. I prayed and participated in Mass - I simply noticed who was there, what was going on, aware of my surroundings - not looking for errors or lack of formality.
Here's the deal.
Men go to Mass when they believe, when their faith is living, when Mass is straight forward - and straight plays a big part in that - like honesty.
It seemed like old times to me - the daily Mass goers downtown have a living faith - they are not there because of an obligation, nor does their faith depend on the person of the priest - downtown churches get a variety of substitutes during the week. Downtown parishes host a huge diversity of persons. It's a microcosm of the Church I think. It's as different from my rich parish in South Minneapolis, as my parish is to the FSSP parish in North Minneapolis, or the traditionalist 'Remnant' parish in South St. Paul.
There is a distinct freedom of spirit in a living body.
Love casts out all fear.
Years ago when I got caught up in the fear mongering which trails ultra conservative trad-minded Catholics, I ran into a priest at a store I worked at and he asked, "What the hell happened to you?" He asked in passing because he was in a hurry to get out of the store we were in, and I laughed and said, "What?" I just thought he meant I'd gotten a bit older or something. But now I know what he meant. He assumed I'd gone 'back' - that I was one of those people who wanted everything to go back to tradition. I never had. But I worked in a milieu he associated with the St. Agnes cult he had warned me years ago to avoid. And there I was.
I haven't seen him since, but I'd like him to know nothing happened to me. I'm just fine. I never rejected Vatican II or the Ordinary Form of Mass. This morning reminded me of all that.
I kind of think most men don't go to Mass because they don't like church-lady-talk, Mass chat, coffee and donuts gossip. They're not into the Fellini ecclesiastical fashion show of vestments, and grand style. Some may like it - some may not.
In my neighborhood, a lot of guys stopped going to church because of the bishop scandal - which included gay priests and teen boys, adulterous priests and parish secretaries and or female penitents, as well as billions of dollars of payouts in legal funds. That erodes trust - one guy down the street will probably never step in a Catholic church again. I also don't think most guys are all that interested in talk show apologists, dressed up in safari outfits, or talking like post-game wrap-up commentators. Going after men doesn't need to involve chest bumps and back slapping stereotypical imitations of successful mainstream media pop-culture marketing. I don't think you have to try to sell men on masculinity with another spokesman in lace and red satin talking about how feminized men have become.
I might be wrong - but I don't think evangelization is the same thing as marketing.
This anti-Pope thing is so not going to attract more men to Mass either. Talking about the pope and the church in political terms doesn't work. I think most ordinary guys think this pope is great. I know non-religious people do. I'm no expert - just speculating here.
I don't know. Like I said, I'm probably wrong.
It was good to experience downtown again - I miss it in a way. I realized something did happen to me - in some ways, I am different today.
BTW - I never resign St. Olaf's, just stopped going downtown, and they stopped sending me newsletters. I was actually 'involved' with the parish - unusual for me because I don't usually get involved with church people. The people I knew weren't there this morning, and so I expect everyone has moved on or away. Nothing stays the same. You can't go back.
I'm just a single Catholic man.
This may be the appropriate to replace a comment from an earlier post discussing Pope Francis. Today I realized not everyone has a negative opinion of him - thanks be to God.
Yesterday I wrote: I must be an idiot - I just don't see Francis abandoning Catholic teaching. I see him as consistent with his predecessors - a lot more frank and talkative, to be sure, but I do not feel my faith is in the balance because of him. Actually when he calls out Pharisees and the hypocrites I've taken it to heart - I totally accuse myself. If it wasn't so indiscreet to do it, I would proclaim my sins online - just to prove it. Rather than feel put down by the Pope, I feel his call to repentance and reconciliation - to drink deeply at the font of Mercy. I'm not just saying that either.
"If a good man reproves me, it is kindness."
My first waking thought every day is prayer - it is hours later that I even check online - my spiritual life comes first. Neither do I check what the pope has said every day. It isn't my first priority. I avoid those who 'report' on what he said, or how he said it. I believe only what is confirmed by Vatican authority, and if I don't understand it, it isn't for me.
I understand that a priest or director may have need to know what he said, what he meant, to refute what gossip media reports, so I pray for priests.
Personally, I just keep thinking that finally I have a pope, a father who understands me - who understands the outsider - the freak. I don't have to try to fit in with any faction because he welcomes the stranger.
If I feel like that think, of all the people who feel excluded from the Church now feel. Think of all the ordinary people who don't identify with the liturgical class wars and politics. There is hope after all for all the prodigals - while our elder brothers grumble because they have always been good and never wasted their lives on prostitutes.
I can't make excuses for the pope or church people - so that is not my intention here.
I've been steeped in sin since birth - so I dare not try to instruct anyone. Pay no attention to me.
I've always taken my cues from the Church - especially the Pope - be it Francis, Benedict, JPI and II, Paul VI and so on.
It's none of my business who is or who is not in church, any more than it is my business or under my control, who goes to communion or who does not go to communion.
I only have to make sure I go to Mass and I'm able to receive.
Song for this post here.
Song for this post here.