Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The reason the Mass was put into the vernacular it was said was so that people would understand what was going on better. Well, perhaps Catholics have a better running shot, but it seems that Mass confusion is still pretty prevalent. What follows will be a little, non-exhaustive, peek-of-the-mountains tour of the Mass. So put on your hiking boots, pack a granola bar and lets go.

The first directive for Mass actually takes place before the Mass. For the first time the Sacramentary states that silence should be observed before Mass in the church proper and all ancillary rooms.

There is the argument that when people come to Mass they have not had the chance to socialize all week and this is their opportunity to be community. But it is also the case the many people had to fight children getting ready for Mass, left their envelope at home and had to go back and get it, was almost in a car accident with someone trying to steal their parking place, had one of their kids run fall and get grass stains on their Sunday clothes after repeatedly being told to, “Stop that!,” had another announce that they had to go to the bathroom “RIGHT NOW,” just got a cell phone call that you have been called into work later and had a dirty look from the person behind you that you had your cell phone on. From that you are expected to jump into, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The moment of quiet is to become settled, put all of that behind you, focus on the duty you have to perform coming up, and to ask God to prepare you for what you are about to receive. The moment of silence is to ready you for heaven on earth – a hard thing to do when the conversation around you about, “Did you hear Bernie got drunk two nights ago and ran over his cat with his car?!”

Oh well. You fight your battles.

The Mass begins with the opening song. It is not travel music for the priest or a theme song like the beginning of a television show. It is our first opportunity to worship God and to unify in ritual the congregation. To be late for the opening song is to be late for Mass. To not participate, at least in heart, is to forgo an opportunity to praise God publically and in community and to side step being part of the community in this way. When you wanted to play a silly game growing up there was always that person that said, “Nah, I don’t want to.” Despite the prodding, “Oh! Come on. It will be fun. Join us!” there was simply nothing you could do. And though you played anyway it was less because one of your band was not participating.

So next comes the Sign of the Cross. We state that what we are about to do is in the name of our One True God, a Trinity of Persons, as we trace the Cross on our bodies which is the symbol of the mystery of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and the sign of our salvation. It is almost like an oath before continuing. It explains Who gave us authority and direction to do this, to Whom we are loyal, and why we are gathered.

Well, so much for mountain tops. This is already long. This post may turn into a four parter. At least I won’t have to think about posts for a while!


Mikki said...

This is great! Please keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

I know that many will accuse me of being an "old fuddy-duddy" but I do miss the quiet and the time when every child is church was not running up and down the aisles throughout Mass.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Father. You are helping us to "see" the Mass in a different way and participate in a more mindful fashion. Please keep it up.

Gina said...

thank you for this...I've been in a little battle myself regarding the beginning of mass. You've given me here the info I need to make my point. Glad that I wasn't off.

Michelle said...

I read the GIRM as saying that silence before Mass in the Church proper (and sacristy, etc) is "commendable" - but not required.

My preference is for silence, but I have seen other ways used to effectively ready an assembly for devout worship.

Fr. V said...

Actually Michelle you are correct. I did overstate it a bit.


Fr. V

Michelle said...

It can all be a bit confusing ;).