Monday, August 18, 2014


So . . .

I am back from vacation.  When a priest travels he must have a letter of suitability with him if he intends to celebrate a Mass publically outside of his diocese.  I didn't get around to getting a card so I thought it would be fun just to attend Mass someplace and see how it is prayed elsewhere.
So on Saturday my sister and I were going to go to this tiny little church in the woods.  They only have one Sunday Mass and it was on Saturday.  I was very much looking forward to it but the forces that be prevented us from making it on time.  So I figured we was meant to go somewhere else and on Sunday.
The one we knew we were not going to go to was the "big" Catholic Church in the nearby town which looked more like a renovated Kmart - and I apologize for insulting Kmart.  I am sure they have a wonderful, perfectly valid and licit Mass, but I was on vacation and wanted beauty.
So we drove quite a distance to go to a lovely church - beautiful!  We walked in and took a pew and prayed until it was announced that we would not be able to hear their pipe organ as the organist had just called in sick.
Oh well.
Then the celebrant said, "We are a friendly church.  So I want everyone to stand up and introduce themselves to the person sitting next to them."
For various reasons I find this trite and I have written about it in the past.  Not the least reason I don't recommend this practice is this:
My goal was simply to be there and pray with this community.  Once, many years ago, I was speaking with a liturgist after a Mass and he was asked, "What do you think of they way we celebrate mass here."  He raised is eyebrows and put his arms out and said, "I came here to pray with you, not to evaluate."  I think he was lying or insane.
I tried SO HARD to do this but it was an uphill battle when facing this:
Like I'm perfect (or even semi-perfect) right?  So who am I?  But STILL.  ARG!  See??  SEE???  I'm still grinding my teeth over it.  How have I failed my spiritual director?  Oh.

So when I tell people to get over it from now on when they complain about how a priest says Mass, I will try to keep this in mind.  My advice won't change though.  So . . .

It's the end of Mass.  The priest says, "Let us pray."  We all dutifully stand.  He says the prayer and ends with, "We ask this through Our Lord . . . one God for ever and ever."  And we dutifully say, "Amen."  Then he sounds as if he is going into the final blessing  BUT IT'S A TRICK!
So we stand there for his final dialogue with our fingers stuck to our foreheads.  Only the locals know and keep their hands down.  Sis knows I've about had it.  She sneaks me out the side door and flicks holy water on my to calm me down. 

Next year I'm taking my Mass kit.


Stephen said...

Dear Father,

Thank you. I was having a difficult Monday until I read your blog today. Welcome Home. Bishop Lennon called me every day asking, " When is Father Valencheck coming home? I need to know which way is up." I would tell him,
"Patience Bishop Lennon, Fr. Valencheck will be home soon. I will call you when he arrives home." Oh Brother.

Honest to Goodness, when I think you can not get any funnier, you go an top yourself.

"I am going to slap him" is my new mantra.

Happy & Grateful,

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem when Father Leonard is preaching. He pauses, and I think that he is done . . . . then a few seconds later he starts up again. But I have been timing him of late, and he hues pretty close to the ten minute limit.

Karen said...

LOL! This pretty much sums up how I feel when we go on vacation and visit another parish for Mass. The parish we went to while on our last vacation takes the cake. Just before Mass they announced that it was "time to socialize and evangelize" and everyone was supposed to introduce themselves to those around them. At that point my 8 & 12 year olds ask me if I'm sure this is a Catholic church. It was, but it had all the stomach turning feel of a happy clappy protestant church. Ugh! Nine months later my husband is still mocking the whole "socialize and evangelize" spiel they did before Mass began.

Cathy said...

Glad to have you back, Father! When we go on vacation, I always go online and check out the churches bulletins. You can tell quite a bit of where a church is "coming from" from their bulletin. Then we decide which Mass to attend. Usually works out OK.
Attended a Mass at the cathedral in Erie PA. The Bishop was the celebrant!!! What a Blessing! (We just stopped in to be tourists and check out the church. Beautiful!!!)

Chris P. said...

I don't know.

Generally, I'm easily distracted - and when something throws me off I tend to dwell on it and have trouble getting back into the moment (like when we skip Confiteor, although with Deacon Terry's mic broken, when he doesn't go to the ambo, I'm ready).

But I remember a homily once, and I think it was you, (but I could be wrong) talking about your first parish assignment, and how the Pastor there was completely open to all sorts of different styles and how it was a formative part of development. I think some line like "as long as you're operating out of the right playbook, you are free to celebrate mass as you'd like."

And I've tried to remember that homily - and how thankful we should all be to have Chant and Latin and English and Choirs and Bands and Soloists and Minimilist masses and Spanish and Rock music at St. B, and Compline prayer with Jesus on Tuesdays... all these different opportunities and ways to experience all of our liturgies.

So I don't know.... my brain still short circuits when we skip Confiteor, but I feel very lucky to be part of a church that has worked so hard for so long to establish such a solid framework that what we build on top of it can be appealing in so many different ways.