Monday, February 14, 2011
on active participation...
... have you ever had to give a speech or presentation to a crowd of people, more than half of whom would rather not even be there? No matter how well you prepared it will always throw off.
Now imagine you are a priest trying to perform your priestly duties and you look out into a sea of bored faces. Imagine you did this every week, multiple times a day even. Certainly, over the course of a year[s], this would have an adverse effect on the priest and the way he celebrates mass. Naturally.
Of course I can not speak from a priest's perspective. From observations on any given Sunday at any given parish and from conversing with various members of the religious community, I can surmise this. I have eyes and ears, and I would like to think a fairly coherent brain that sits between them. My ears. Not my eyes.
Whenever I read a blog about some pathetically served mass, in their opinion ... because you now they have apostolic authority to make these critiques... I always wonder how that person responded in that mass. *Did they tune out the minute they heard some clappy hymn with back up vocals and tambourines? Does anything but fiddlebacks and brocade vestments make their eyes glaze over and charity shut down?
I can understand the zeal and desire to have the most holy sacrifice of the mass celebrated with all the smells and bells. I appreciate that thirst for reverence and tradition. God deserves the best, yes. I agree. What He also deserves is for us to be fully present, mentally and spiritually, during this celebration.
You don't go to some one's house for dinner and insult the hostess's dress or the decor of her home. If you wouldn't behave boorishly at a dinner party than why do you think it acceptable to behave in that manner during mass?
For every priest who half heartily celebrates mass I can bet you his congregation half heartily participates in mass. From his perspective he sees everything; every teenager on their iPhone, every bored fidget, eye roll, yawn, butt scooted kneel and ... are you swatting flies or making the Sign of the Cross?
So Vatican II wants you to actively participate? Then do it. Prayerfully participate. Your "Amen" is a yes, not a mumbled response with no meaning. Listen to the homily, really listen, not just take mental notes so you can bitch about how bad it was on your blog. Open your heart to the Gospel reading, not just stand there switching feet wondering if you can sit down now.
How do I know you do this? Because I have, at some point, been guilty of all of the above... some even at the same time! I know.
I have a little prayer I say to myself in preparation for mass. "Lord, help me not jump to judgement or criticism. Help me, Lord, not get irritated with those around me." Or something along those lines. Nothing fancy but it does the trick. In fact if you can find me a better prayer I'd be much obliged.
*The Crescat has never, nor ever will, condone the use of tambourines in mass. I even doubt the validity of the tambourine as a musical instrument.