(still having trouble with finalizing each reply without losing info so please bear with me). I’ve removed bullets this time to see if that was doing it.
**A NEW EXPERIENCE IN A TRADITIONAL PARISH **
Several things seemed odd to me and I must confess that my first thought was, “Oh-no! I’ve landed in the 1950’s”. Of course, I wasn’t passing up the symphony (a non God-Centered attitude with regards to the Mass). What struck me as odd, dropping into this? Here are my thoughts before God turned on the flood-light and to an unknowing or untrained eye, it seems cold, but it is far from that as I will explain later. There are exceptions, but the rules apply below and I’m sure I’ll recall more later and add them as we go along.
There is no talking inside the Church - I mean, it is absent.
There is no eye contact, even walking the corridors along the confessionals or elsewhere. I walked passed many people with Rosary in hand, or saying other prayers, or just in deep reflection and it’s like I wasn’t there.
There is no touching of anyone during mass - no exchange of hands during the sign of peace, but also just in general. I could see no one sitting there with their arms around a spouse or even around a child. I saw one exception this past Sunday of a mother with her arm on the shoulder of a boy that was maybe 4 or 5, but there was not an inordinate amount of attention on him and he seemed pretty well content, not squirming and restless.
Several families sitting in front of me with young children sat attentively during the Mass. The kids needed no special attention, hugs, discipline, etc. They appeared content just to sit there. There were no toys that I could see, and no cheerios even by the smallest of kids within my view.
When people walk within the Church it is slow and meditative. Even small children walking seem to have a deep sense of reverence as they walk past the cener of the church, genuflecting with purpose.
Genuflecting in general is deep, mostly to the ground for those capable (and it seems even the handicapped and elderly make a concerted effort to go as far as they can).
Gestures of bowing within the mass, and striking the breast are prevelant - something I had not witnessed since living in a European country in the 1980s, but even there, bowing was absent. Bowing is deep and held long.
In the Mass or other public prayer, all of the priests I’ve observed appear “dry” at first - a clear misconception as you will see later. They are not dynamic by any means. Afterall, aren’t they suppose to jump up and down and get our attention? Not quite, once again, as you will read later. The priests that I’ve seen thus far seemed to have tuned everyone out - as if there are no people in the Church.
Communion, which is done at the rail, on the tongue (you won’t get a chance here to get it in your hands), was the biggest dose of culture shock. The first day it was awkward, the second day a little more comfortable and you’ll learn what happened by the third day in m later post. No Extraordinary Ministers here, but there are lots of priests as there is the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross residing on the grounds, as are the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Somehow, I don’t think their absence and reduced numbers of priests would change the manner in which communion is distributed.
I suspect I will never see children at the altar at any time - such as that seen in many parishes on the day of First Holy Communion or other times.
People walked with babies at the back of the Church, but they were really focused and don’t mean on the baby. As I stood for a portion of the Mass at the back of the church, several parents passed me by and as I attempted to acknowledge their offspring with just a smile, they walked right past without any eye contact.
There is a very heavy sense of prayer before, during and after the Mass. A fair number of people remain quietly within their pews continuing to pray and the Church is silent enough for them to do this. It is inviting to prayer.
To be continued…