[/LIST]Before I became a priest, I noticed that the more devout I became, Sunday Mass became more difficult. I wanted to go to Mass to pray in community, to experience Christ's presence, to be present at the sacrifice, and receive communion. However, I often felt the choices made for how the Mass was offered didn't lead me into the prayer I craved. In fact, I increasingly experienced that rather than leading me into prayer, I had to fight the liturgical choices in order to be able to pray.
I wanted to hear the beautiful, scripturally based antiphons used, the ones that the Church gives us in the Roman Missal. Instead, we always sung hymns, which often had nothing to do with the Mass of the day. I didn't usually find the hymns drew me into prayer and recollection, and I craved prayer. When I looked around I often saw listless faces, especially among men, who often just sat there without singing. There was little silent time in the Masses I attended, and I craved time to just pray, without singing.
After years of this, and studying the options, I decided we would be better off to make our Masses prayerful by using silence where it is allowed, and singing the Mass (dialogues, antiphons, ordinaries) rather than singing at the Mass ( hymns). Then the time that was now filled with hymns could be used for silent prayer and recollection, and now we could still sing, but we would now sing the Mass parts, the actual prayers! I am so excited about this idea, and it's all doable with the right choices in the OF of Mass!
So yea, Sunday Mass doesn't need to be fancy. It just needs to be prayerful, first and foremost. Nothing must be allowed to get in the way of this, we need Our Lord, and we find him in a prayerful Mass!
I've shared some of these thoughts in other posts, but I'm wondering if other people have experienced something similar.
Please do not misconstrue this as an attack on the OF Mass. It is not! The OF has many, many options and choices. But most of them are never used.
So I'm curious, where do you see opportunities for your pastor to make Sunday Mass a truly prayerful experience?