Each morning I wake up and reboot my internal calendar. Cobwebs clear and the day before me comes into focus. With retirement comes a letting go of many daily obligations. It is a joy not to think in Monday to Friday terms anymore. No more work day grumbling and moaning. Life still provides many commitments, but there is a lovely sense of freedom. In the words of Harry Chapin, “I let time go lightly”, relishing this new pace of life with my hubby.
The obligation of Sunday morning Mass attendance remains. And, an obligation it continues to be. I struggle most Sunday mornings to drag myself to church. If not for my faithful and committed hubby, I would probably have stopped going years ago.
I blame my aversion on too many years of putting up with priests who were either anger provoking or less than inspiring. Dysfunctional behaviour is probably worse than mediocrity, but both can be a challenge for us poor souls in the pews.
Yes, yes, I know that it is not the church of the priest. WE are the church. But, as with any organization, the health of the organization is directly affected by the quality of its leadership. Our parishes and worship reflect the clerical-centric structure of the institutional church. The priest has the final word in parish administration; lay councils can only advise him. The priest leads the prayer. The priest breaks open the word at the homily.
Some priests are truly gifted pastors, and blessed is the parish or community that they serve. Some are kind souls, but simply lack liturgical or homiletic skills. Some are overly harsh and judgmental, showing disdain to the less-than-perfectly-Catholic. Some are just too lazy to put much effort into the task of preaching.
I’m not a patient person, and my patience is wearing ever thinner as the years go on. I’m tired of feeling like a hostage on Sunday mornings. I’m tired of going to mass out of guilt rather than genuine desire. I’m tired of leaving the church tired and depressed rather than rejuvenated and nourished.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our liturgical life. It is meant to be a foretaste of the Kingdom, a touch of heaven on earth. What can we do if it feels less than heavenly? What do you do?