Attending Mass (Visiting Church #5)
When I tell people we’re visiting Christian churches, they often assume Protestant and are surprised our plan includes Catholic gatherings. That’s where we head today, to our first Mass.
The most noticeable difference is an ornate crucifix in the sanctuary. I’m pleased to see many lay people helping lead the service. There’s a nice range of ages present, including children who remain with us the entire time.
I struggle to follow along. There’s many times for the congregation to respond, but we don’t know what to say. Their service is not friendly to the uninitiated.
The lone musical instrument is a keyboard and the keyboardist leads the singing. There’s also a choir. Both the singers and musician are behind us. Removing our focus from them, makes it less like a performance and more worshipful.
The priest leads us in the Apostle’s Creed. I thought this was a Protestant proclamation, but obviously not. We also pray the Lord’s Prayer. I’m aware Catholics don’t say the final line that Protestants do, but I almost say it anyway.
The priest begins his Mother’s Day message with a series of anecdotes about moms, segueing into love: reciprocal love, romantic love, and love-your-enemies as exemplified by Jesus. I wonder how a priest can address the complexities of romantic love, but he does a great job at it. I also appreciate him mentioning Jesus’s death as a love-your-enemies example.
The message is short, followed by communion, what many refer to as the celebration of the Eucharist. The priest calls it “a memorial service” for Jesus. We don’t partake, and I attempt to spend this time in quiet contemplation of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, I’m too distracted to do so.
The priest announces Mass is over. The service lasted one hour, and we head home with much to contemplate.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.