By no stretch of the imagination did my mother have a temper so when she was upset you knew that it was for a pretty serious reason. One time my sisters and I were going to throw a party at our house for a large number of our extended family. We told our mother not to worry about a thing. We would take care of it all. And then we left for a day trip.
Now, college students (as I was at the time) have a very different idea of what it means to throw a party than an adult. Even an informal party can require much more behind the scenes than meets the eye. A college student can throw a couple of bags of fun-time snacks on the table and cool some beverages in the refrigerator that they picked up on the way home and call it a party. That was our plan. So we came home to an upset mother who took it upon herself to get out bowls a glasses and service, make coffee for those who would want it, make sure that house is cleaned a necessities were stocked, extra chairs brought out, the bedroom were cleaned lest anybody accidently stray to those parts of the house, and, as I found out in detail, “etc., etc., etc. . .” A lot of effort goes into a party looking effortless.
We never did that to her again.
Church affairs are much the same. It is more than someone standing up in the sanctuary for an hour on Sunday. Hours go into a well celebrated Mass, a lot of effort going into it so that it looks effortless. It also takes a lot of people. The same is for something like Eucharistic devotions.
This past week we had our annual 40 hours at St. Sebastian. This year I tried (as well as I am able) to stay completely out of it and let our young parochial vicar take control of the whole thing from soup to nuts. The actual event lasted 40 hours but it took months of planning and work. Hundreds of people were involved. Consider if you will just the effort to have people in church for 40 hours. We tried to have at least 3 people at any given hour. 40 x 3 is a minimum of 120 people. Then there are the people who coordinate the people. The “out time” when you have to start advertising the event for calendars and so that people can plan what hours they wish to dedicate. Music ministries, servers, speakers, lectors must be sought and scheduled, programming planned, worship aids produced, décor to be decided and etc., etc., etc. . .
The kid did pretty well. My role was very slight. “Did you plan a dinner for the closing night speaker? Did you write a check?” But really it was his deal and it went well with a few hundred hours made I would say.
So, whenever you go to a well celebrated Mass or other service at your parish, bear in mind that it required many people and many hours to accomplish what you enjoy for that one hour. It is the tip of an iceberg of a great community effort.