Lanternarius Press

HOW LONG IS MASS?

I guess that our pastor must be reading the catholic365 website! His sermon this weekend could have been taken from these essays! I live in a resort area. We have three seasons: summer, snowmobile and mud seasons. Right now we are in summer and the place is packed with campers, hikers and water park enthusiasts. There are two churches in the township: one at the north end and one in the middle of the village, half an hour drive apart. Apparently, quite a few Catholics attend Mass while on vacation, which is admirable. In the summer, one priest has to say five Masses in less than 24 hours, to in addition to the back and forth driving. Needless to say, by the fourth Mass, he is getting tired.

When our overworked pastor gets annoyed with something, he eventually needs to vent. And he did, with a degree of charity. His peeve was how his parishioners seem to be neglecting their relationship with Christ. It is wonderful that so many hundreds of people attend Mass regularly, but do they know what they are doing?

Let us look behind his worry. The Mass is, among other things, a visit with the physical Jesus. It is also a sacrifice, a learning experience and a time to connect with others. We can add a whole list of other things that describe the Mass. A visit is a reinforcement of a friendship. In the case of the Mass, we are reinforcing our relationship, our friendship, with the God Who is Jesus. We come, we tell Him how sorry we are for acting like a bunch of humans who suffer from original sin. You know, the lies, the snide remarks. Then we listen to the words that have been dictated by God over the centuries. We watch the perpetual Sacrifice, receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Then we are blessed as we leave for the day. That is the visit. We can remain on our knees to pray further, should we wish. One hour a week!

Apparently, some people cannot possibly stand such an invasion of their time. They chat, read their emails, chew their gum, even….yes…drink their coffee that they got at Starbucks down the street because, heaven forbid, an hour without coffee would be so much worse than Jesus dying for us!

Others just can’t get over the fact that 45-60 minutes a week is the minimum expected for a visit to the Lord. As soon as they have stood in their McDonald’s like line to receive their weekly host, they have to get out of the place for fear that they won’t be the first in line for brunch at the restaurant down the street. Or, perhaps, they figure the good part is out of the way and why bother with the rest.

The Mass is a contiguous event. The beginning, middle and end are all important in their own rights and should be seen as part of a whole. Missing part is like showing up for a nice dinner party and leaving before dessert because you’ve had enough. No “goodby”, just leave! How rude to the host/hostess!

The same thing pertains to those who perpetually show up to Mass about the same time as the Gospel is being read. They have eliminated a very large part of the instructions set down by God all those years ago. Of course, there is always car trouble or a cranky child who took extra time. Those occasional problems are not the ones addressed. It’s the same people who show up month after month at the same time: 10 minutes late. This is simply a demonstration of lack of respect.

To those who do this, I want to say: You are dealing with another Person, there, people! Can you truthfully say that God can’t be insulted by your actions, or do you not care?

Half an hour or less after the sermon, the people in front of us left immediately after Communion. I couldn’t believe it!

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