Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Say the Black, Do the Red
I recently read the article “10 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong at Mass.” As someone who can get grumpy at a sloppy mass, I enjoyed this. People talk about Catholic mass being hard to understand and involving a lot of movements, but really, it's mostly applied common sense. And if someone is confused, there's a handy-dandy Order of Mass that outlines all the words and movements. Pair that with a catechism that explains the beliefs behind the words and movements, and you've got the keys to not mucking up mass. A lot of these are points I have wanted to talk about before. Since I certainly hope my blog doesn’t become me legalistically complaining, I’m going to quickly hit all the points in the article instead of making them separate entries.
1. Changing posture early.
I haven’t actually seen this one a lot, unless I count the people that lower the kneelers with their feet several minutes before kneeling. The only time I can think of this being a problem is during the Preparation of the Altar when the priest says, “Pray my brothers and sisters…” and the people respond, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice…” Seriously, when do you stand? It seems no one knows, varying from parish to parish and sometimes pew to pew. The rubrics say stand before the priest speaks, but no one does that. Sometimes it’s as the priest starts (what I try to do), and sometimes it’s as late as halfway through the people’s response. Stand, then speak makes more sense than stand while speak, and it grates on me when I’m one of only three people standing.
2. Leaving before the Mass is over.
That’s just rude. And unless you have to work at 9 a.m. on Sunday, I don’t get why people can’t wait all of six more minutes. I loved the article’s term “Judas Shuffle.”
3. Genuflecting toward the altar.
I didn’t know this was an issue for a long time because my church’s tabernacle is at the center right behind the altar. Kneel to Jesus—thought that was obvious. Then I started attending the campus center, where the tabernacle is far to the right and set a bit back. People would walk right past it and genuflect toward the altar.
4. Nodding your head instead of a proper bow.
There are lots of oldies at the mass I attend, so I get that sudden, deep movements aren’t always possible. Plus sometimes twentysomethings get dressed fast in the morning and don’t realize how short their skirts are until they are already at church and feel self-conscious about motions that would pull the material up any more (not from my summer wardrobe experience or anything). So if someone nods or slightly bows instead of profoundly bows, I feel like they might be doing the best they can to acknowledge their reverence. But at least do something. I’ve seen a lot of people who clearly have no idea about bowing in the middle of the creed.
5. Standing in the Orans position during the Our Father.
This includes holding hands! We can play Red Rover after Mass. If you reach out for my hand, I’ll hold hands with you, but I’ll count it as an act of charity on my part—forgoing prayer to help a poorly-catechized person feel happy for a few seconds.
6. Walking around at the Sign of Peace.
I haven’t experienced this much; most times everyone makes the tiny circle where they are standing. Just don’t use my captive attention to hug me.
7. Not saying “Amen” before receiving Communion
I don’t really paid attention to other people receiving, so I don’t know if this happens around me. I thought the priest just stood waiting for you to say “Amen” before giving you a host; I didn’t know silence was an option.
8. Not singing.
Well, I fail at this one a lot, but that is because the music is horrible. Horrible as in weird 1980s melodies, hard to follow time/key changes, and words I theologically disagree with. But when it’s a good 1700s hymn, I sing! I sing because it’s beautiful music, expressing how I feel about God and Church, and because I want the music director to know that if he wants congregational participation, these are the tunes to stick to.
9. Not saying the responses.
I haven’t noticed this. But of course, say the responses! That's what makes it responsive.
10. Arriving late.
Even though I’m a five-minutes-early-is-getting-there-just-in-time person, I have more patience for this than leaving early. Still, mass is the same time every week, so habitual lateness makes no sense. Jesus is there; run to him!