I’m an evangelical inquirer who attended his first Catholic Mass since I had the privilege of attending Midnight Mass in Rome in 1978 with some Catholic friends of mine while studying in Europe. Other than that, I was not aware of what to expect except for what I have gleaned on CAF from you kind folks.
– I definitely felt God’s presence. It was palpable, especially during the Eucharist just like folks on CAF had said it would be.
– The reverence of God was also shown by the faithful by bowing, kneeling to pray, and by keeping quiet when they arrived in the sanctuary. This contrasts with my current church environment at which people chat and laugh in the sanctuary before service like they are at Starbucks or something.
– The priest appeared to be genuine and at ease in his homily about the Holy Trinity and I could relate to what he was saying. I was expecting stiffness, pomp and circumstance but got a heart felt talk from what I perceive to be a genuine servant of God who also officiates the various other stuff during the Mass.
– While on my way to Mass (20 minute drive), I was concerned it might be an awkward experience and that I wouldn’t know anyone. However, I discovered that I actually knew the head usher who was also the greeter. I had worked with him at one point in my career and he had been my supervisor for a time. We always got along well. He was pleasantly surprised to see me, as I was to see him. Small world, huh?
– Another man that I knew from work saw me sitting alone on the back row and he and his wfe came and sat next to me.
– At one point, when they had the congregation lay hands on all the fathers in attendance on behalf of Father’s Day tomorrow, a lady saw me without anyone laying their hands on me and she came over to put her hand on my shoulder and pray for me which I thought was very thoughtful, especially since she had to maneuver her way around a bunch of people to get to me.
– At times I had trouble concentrating (and I think other parishoners did too) due to a couple of loud crying babies whose parents tried unsuccessfully for several minutes to keep them quiet before they finally took them out of the sanctuary. I wasn’t used to this because at my church it is mandatory for parents with babies to put them in the nursery or go to a “quiet room” with audio where they can hear the proceedings from the sanctuary. This was no biggie, just a little annoying.
– I actually saw a teenage girl dressed in gym shorts and sandals. I realize it is summer and Christ is more concerned with the heart than our dress, but that seemed a little disrespectful to me. But then again my sons sometimes tell me I’m an old fart who needs to loosen up more.
– During the Eucharist, I noticed a couple of altar boys were offered the cup but did not take it. Two of them did but two others didn’t. I wonder why?
– I noticed that there were a few different chalices from which all the faithful would drink. In between people, and there were lots of them, the servers would wipe off the chalice for the next person to drink.
What happens if someone is sick? Are they excused from the Eucharist or is some other provision made? Otherwise, it seems possible that colds, step throat, etc could get passed around easily from this method. I realize this is a pretty mundane question and concern, but it made me wonder a little bit. At my church, everyone gets an individual little throwaway plastic cup. Not as ceremonious, but more hygenic, I would think. Once again, no biggie – just curious.
Overall, my first Mass in a long time was a positive experience. I plan to go to Father’s Day with my two sons tomorrow at my regular AOG church, at which I am an usher.
Thanks, everyone, for your prayers. It was a lot less stressful than I had imagined. Plus, I was impressed by all the readings from Scripture. In a way, it was sort of like a protestant service with more bells and whistles (literally, more bells). I remembered bells during the Eucharist.