So, since this forum is where I first really began my serious investigation of Catholicism, I thought I would tell you all I actually managed to go to Mass today. It was very good! I must confess I was a little unsure what to do at times, and I didn’t have all the responses memorized, but I don’t think I did or said anything too shocking.
Well, I noticed that people were crossing themselves upon entering the chapel, but I wasn’t really sure how to do it right, so I just walked in and sat down. Some people did some sort of kneeling thing in the aisle too, and I wasn’t really sure what that was supposed to be. Anyway, no one looked at me weird when I just came in and sat down. I saw one of my friends from Basic (who’s in another unit now) there, so I went over and sat down by him. He showed me the Missal book with the appropriate section for today, which definitely helped keep me from becoming too lost. When it came time for the Creed, I had to fumble through the book for it, as I don’t have it memorized (in my experience, most evangelical Protestant churches don’t say either the Nicean or Apostle’s Creeds). Still, I managed to find it before they were completely finished!
I was impressed by the amount of Scripture that was read. Most Protestant ministers I have heard usually read a very short segment of Scripture and then talk about something related to it. I thought it was especially timely for me that the readings were from Isaiah 22 and Matthew 16, which speak of “the keys” and authority.
When it came time for the Eucharist, I was planning to just remain seated, but my friend told me I could cross my arms when I approached the priest and receive a blessing instead. So, I did that. Was this an acceptable action? I’ve heard of people doing this if they were not ready to receive the Eucharist due to unconfessed mortal sins, but I wasn’t sure how that applied to non-Catholics.
Before the Mass was over, the priest/chaplain told us that there were RCIA classes after Mass (though not this week). I have been planning to go when I get back to the U.S., but it appears I can go here as well. I’m not sure how often I’ll get a chance to go, and I’ll still want to go when I get back, but I figure it will be a good opportunity for learning.
So, that was my first Mass experience. My friend told me it was shorter than a normal Mass (we didn’t do any singing and the homily was short), but I guess that’s life in a combat zone. It was a very good experience, though, and I look forward to going again.
I honestly didn’t come away with any objections to what was said or done. I can see how a laymen in the pews could mindlessly mouth the responses and not have them mean anything, but I guess that’s not any different than a Protestant sitting in the pew and zoning out during the sermon. When one speaks the words wholeheartedly, however, they are a wonderful confession of faith. I also noticed a far more reverent attitude in the chapel. As soon as I entered, it felt different. I’m used to going to churches where, as I walk in, the worship band is playing loud, energetic music and people are talking to each other about all kinds of things. I’m not saying this is bad, but I definitely appreciated the quiet, respectful attitude of worship in the chapel, even before the priest arrived.