Hubby and I recently attended an early Saturday evening mass at a parish away from home. One doesn’t expect a rousing choir or lively liturgy at 5:30pm on a Saturday. After all, many of us are there just to get our Sunday obligation checked off the weekend do-to list; freeing up our Sunday for sleep-ins and fun in the sun.
We entered the half empty church expecting a quiet, simple mass. Instead, we experienced a loooong, drawn out liturgy and rambling homily. I looked around at the blank faces, and heard an audible sigh or two. Sadly, we have attended too many masses like this in the past, and they always leave me guilt-ridden. I begin lecturing myself about the core value of the mass; the parish is more than the priest; we can’t expect each and every liturgical celebration to be an uplifting and inspiring experience. But, it seldom works. A good parish mass – whether you are a member or a visitor – should nurture and nourish. It should not feel like an hour of penance.
Patrick T. Reardon has written a wonderful essay for the National Catholic Reporter titled A parish, like a family, is made of woven lives .
The warm description of his own parish community in Chicago sounds like a touch of heaven on earth. His words are filled with love and gratitude for the woven tapestry of lives that fill the pews; lives that come together each Sunday as a real communion of souls. Oh, if only all parishes could be like this….