My husband and I are 55 years old. We converted to Catholicism 8 years ago.
I grew up Evangelical Protestant, so I was used to worship services that included dynamic music, enthusiastic congregational singing, and at least 45 minutes or more of thoughtful, interesting preaching. (If the pastor preached less than a half hour, we started wondering if perhaps he had “gone carnal.”)
Then came the 1990s, and the worship services started getting more and more trite and theatrical. It seemed that the pastors and worship leaders were going to extremes to try to “surprise us” each week. I remember one worship service where the ushers solemnly marched in with a casket, and the pastor preached about new life and at the end of his message (at least 45 minutes long), he opened the casket and several dozen red balloons floated out (and got tangled in the ceiling fans). I didn’t get the point. It seemed silly for grownups, more like something I would do in a VBS for little children to teach them about God.
And the music became centered around “P and W,” which is very nice, but it displaced the beautiful traditional hymns and shuttered up the organ. Again, I like a lot of P and W and contemporary Christian music, but what I was seeing most often was “boomer rock,” a P/W team consisting of several middle-aged rockers, and it was all pretty mediocre.
Now don’t get me wrong–I LOVE participation by non-professional musicians, and I think it’s really too bad when people don’t sing along. The problem with the P/W worship team approach is that the congregation stopped singing along, and just stood there. That’s because much of the P/W music is written as solo music, and when a group tries to sing it, it all goes wrong because the melody line is vague and the blue notes and rock licks are hard for the average person to do.
OTOH, there were “Tryouts” to be involved with the Evangelical church music programs, and people were actually “rejected.” I remember talking with one of my old friends from my childhood church, and asking if she was still singing in the choir. She said, “No, I didn’t do well at the tryouts.” I was shocked!
But that’s nothing compared to this story–TRUE story, I should say. My sister-in-law wanted her 3-year old son to be in a Christmas pageant, so she took him to the local non-denominational megachurch to try out for their pageant. She was asked for his “portfolio.” He didn’t have one, of course. And he couldn’t sing or dance or speak well. He didn’t get a part, and my sister-in-law was told that they were only interested in children who had theatre experience. We’re talking 3-year olds here!!!
When I grew up, every child got a part, and if a little one was too scared to stand in front of people and listen to the pianist play “Jesus Loves Me” while one girl or boy sing very loudly while all the other children waved at their parents and pulled up their dresses–well, then the parent was encouraged to sit with their little one during the pageant!
All too often, the sermons about the Word of God were so trivial and based not on theology, but on personal experiences and opinions of the pastor.
Finally, the two ordinances of the Evangelical churches (baptism and communion) were never practiced. We were in an Evangelical Free Church in America for seven years, and during the last year, we never saw even one baptismal service, and only had one communion service. This was alarming to us–we found ourselves wondering when “marriage” would be discontinued!
So we were not particularly happy with the state of the Evangelical church “worship services,” and that means we were more disposed to like something “different” like a Mass.
Our first Masses were OF Masses at the parish down the street from our house, a very modern parish. We felt like we had stepped back into time into the medieval times.
We were quite lost, and the only thing that sounded familiar to us was The Lord’s Prayer and the readings from the Bible.
Some people on this board claim that the OF Masses are too “Protestant.” Nothing could be further from the truth, at least for Evangelical Protestants. Maybe mainline Protestants find Catholic Mass “familiar,” but to Evangelical Protestants, it’s totally, completely different than anything we ever experienced in our fellowships.
The “modern” hymns (we didn’t know at the time that many Catholics despise them) felt ancient to us, like oldies from the 1970s.
What I really appreciated about the Mass is that is was slow and quiet and not very well-done and many of the people seemed bored and disconnected. In other words, the Mass wasn’t a “show.” We were used to a show at the worship services. I play piano, and I can testify that "backstage "before a worship service was like being “backstage” at a show–the “director”, usually the pastor, would give us all our “notes” and make sure all the “special effects” were ready to go.
But Mass isn’t a show at all. I liked that a lot. I liked the genuineness of it, and the history behind it.
But we were very confused about what was going on, and so what we did was make an appointment with the priest in the parish, and ask him to explain the Mass to us. He did so, spending over an hour with us, and this was immensely helpful. He also recommended the parish Apologetics class, which was wonderful.
I suggest that you get hold of a great book called The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn. This book does a great job of explaining the Mass. Dr. Hahn is a convert to Catholicism from Presbyterianism.