My fellow confirmandees and me


For reasons unknown to me, I was never confirmed as a teen. When I investigated the process to be confirmed in my diocese in the latter 1990’s one had to go through RCIA even if they were a baptized Catholic who had received First Communion. With no other options I joined RCIA in late 1998. I would be confirmed in the jubilee year of 2000 at Easter.

It wasn’t a happy process. Our chief catechist was a Benedictine monk who seemed to have much dislike for then Pope John Paul II. I remember him saying that "the only reason the Catechism of the Catholic Church was created was to benefit printers and the Church hierarchy. Ugh!

The group was pretty cool though – 22 in all. Myself and another non-confirmed Catholic, a converting Russian Orthodox, 5 non-baptized individuals and 14 converting Protestants of various flavors. Our pastor asked if I would set-up and serve a Mass he was preparing to celebrate for us? I agreed – it was the first Mass I served as an adult. When he, the music director and I sat down to go over the details I asked “no smells and bells?” I think those in the class are looking for “smells and bells.” He said no, there was no need and that was that.

Odd as it might sound, other than the Catholic and I, it was clear that none of the others had been to Mass at was to become their new home parish. No problem though, what a great introduction. While the Mass was well organized and precise (better than a local Sunday Mass), it was also utilitarian and sterile (just like a typical local Sunday Mass.) I can still picture the looks of disappointment on the faces of my soon to be fellow confirmandees. I think they wee expecting something far more St. Peter’s. This disappointment would be repeated at the Easter Vigil Mass.

The reason I bring this up is that I ran into someone from the group yesterday. She was the one that sort of kept the group communicating with her emails for quite some time. She said that to her knowledge, I was the only one of the 22 that is still active in the Church. That saddened me greatly.

Like it or not, pomp and solemnity can be extremely important when it comes to the celebration of the Mass. I think the lack of pomp and solemnity around here played a material part in those 21 souls no longer attending Mass today. It you get a chance, please say a little prayer for them.


Sad as the story is, and it is quite sad, I doubt the “smells and bells” would have made the difference. It sounds more like there wasn’t a “true conversion” to the faith. If they really understood what takes place at a Mass and the meaning behind the entire process, even a “badly celebrated” Mass would be beautiful and completely satisfying. Sounds more like the typical “ineffective catechists”.

Have you ever tried to contact the entire group and organize a reunion? Maybe you could find out just why they left (if they did).

Prayers for your classmates. It is a sad story…but not a new story…


If somebody truly wants this, to the point where they are going to leave the Church without it, it’s not exactly hard to find. You can go to the nearest Cathedral or historic church and absorb a great deal from just the surrounding architecture and atmosphere.

Living your faith is a lot more than just seeing somebody swan around on the altar like a Hollywood version of a Catholic Mass though. Anyone who did not get this message during RCIA will certainly get it once they are out in the world trying to live daily as a Catholic with all that entails.

I would hesitate to rely on somebody who was running an e-mail list as the oracle on who out of 22 people was still “active in the Church”. It may be that they got tired of answering her e-mail and unsubbed and she took this to mean they weren’t active.


Whether true or not, this is a very, very troubling statement. No Mass, whether on a Solemnity, Feast Day, week day, Sunday, in Rome or in Jerusalem, or in Anytown, U.S.A. should be viewed as “utilitarian and sterile”.


Someone whose heart is fully engaged in the unbloody sacrifice of Jesus and in absorbing the truths from Scripture is not going to be feeling a Mass as “utilitarian and sterile” even if it is being said in a bare room by a priest in a pair of cargo shorts and sneakers on top of a card table. While nice externals can enhance someone’s experience of a Mass, I would say 90 percent of the Mass experience is internal. Even a Mass that someone doesn’t enjoy for whatever reason (let’s say the Church is cold, the priest is uninspiring, or some kid cried and kicked the seat behind you the whole time) can be a good spiritual experience if you offer up your distractions and annoyances to the Lord.


Definitely will pray for them.


Except when they are celebrated in just that manner.


That’s simply not true.


That might very well be. There was one specific incident that I will never forget.

On the mid-morning of the Easter Vigil, the group met one final time before that evening’s Mass. The Benedictine monk asked if there were any last-minute questions? I’ll never forget the last question – it was asked by a bright guy named Bart. In brief he asked if the Most Blessed Sacrament was indeed the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, or was it simply a symbol? Bart had come from the Episcopal Church.

I looked at Bart in absolute horror. Worse, it seemed like the rest of the class also didn’t know and was waiting for the official answer. Even the cynical monk looked sad as he answered the question.


Indeed. There are those who think a Low Mass is some version of utilitarian and sterile, whether it’s because they prefer the N.O. or High Mass.


OK I agree here with Tis_Bearself: I went to Masses at the Nursing home most when my father was there. It was in a separated space but still part of an open common area. Now picture a LARGE lobby with TV’s, chairs, dining tables, etc. and a little area off of this but with NO closed door, NO partition to block off the rest of what was going on. There were nurses and aides talking and doing their jobs in their normal tones of voices, there were those poor clients who due to their medical situations and mental states had no idea why they were doing so but they were hollering and carrying on, men working on the utilities, etc. All of this was going on and we were all seated there with the movable altar, the priest, the Mass going on and Our Lord present. It was JUST as reverent for me to be at that Mass as it is in my own Church. These people deserved to have Mass said for them as much as you and I do and it has to be said where they could attend which was their home (nursing home). The nursing home couldn’t have a set apart room that would have fit the many who attended so it was held in the common area with it’s only separated space. All of the essential elements were there. Everything was done “By the book”. Candles were lit on the Altar, missals were available, Holy Water was offered to all there to bless themselves before and after Mass, Father came and vested before Mass, he even gave wonderful homilies (even though probably most there couldn’t hear him or even understand fully what he was saying due to medical issues) and most of all Our Lord Himself was offered to those who could receive. It was a FULL TRUE REAL Mass in this most unlikely of locations and situations. But I guarantee you that each and every one of us there including the clients were Joy filled and happy that they had been to Mass. It’s is what WE bring to worship, it is what WE bring to Mass interior wise that matters. I can tell you I’ve used instances like you describe to close my eyes, bow my head and pray for those who may not understand what they are doing and who may not have had the full instruction of the faith we have had. I am just glad they are there and trying. they have room to grow in holiness, WE ALL HAVE room to grow in holiness.


It was an OF Mass. It was celebrated in a utilitarian manner. Not quite as sterile as a burned-through EF low Mass, but close.


That is your opinion/perception. You like things a very certain way and if something or someone deviates or disagrees you have a tendency to slap a label on it as though there is no nuance or variation in how various people experience something.


No, it’s not. Objectively it was an OF Mass that had every bit of solemnity stripped out of it. That’s not uncommon in these parts. From the choice of Eucharistic Prayer #2 to the 2-3 minute homily, it was designed to be quick and utilitarian.


The character of the celebration includes the spiritual disposition of the participants and not just the presiding celebrant. So, if the most Holy Mass is perceived by one, or some, but not by all as “utilitarian or sterile”, we should pray for those who are so weak of spirit that they are easily distracted from the glory of God by what they perceived as an absence of necessary pomp and circumstance they seem to crave.

I have attended many Masses in the military, in many places that lacked the ambiance of a humble parish, let alone St. Peter’s, but never did I not feel the Holy presence of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, which turns the plain and even the ugly into a place of splendor!


Struggle as you will, the choices made for that Mass by the presider made it an extremely utilitarian celebration.


I have. I think it would be very embarrassing for some. That said I think I would try to do it except the RCIA process was so horrible, I really don’t want to re-live any of it.

I will say this. An on-the-ball pastor WOULD have debriefing get togethers of groups that went through RCIA at say the 5 year mark to see how they are doing would be some really great information.

Now Catholics are confirmed after meeting for 4 Saturdays. My Dad did it after I did…


I think there is more to it than 'pomp and solemnity."


Maybe. But the externals do add to the Mass. They aren’t necessary and in many circumstances can’t be done. But they aren’t inconsequential either. The church and Mass being beautiful does draw us to God.


I attempted to revert, I attended 1/2 a dozen different rcia classes, ALL mediocre. I thought that after 2000+ years ‘The’ Church would have the system down pat. I had done years of self study and the faith I had come to relearn was not what was being taught in rcia. It was very frustrating. So much so, the last class I was in, people were dropping out every week. I also gave up trying to revert. However, I found the church where my relearned faith was practiced, an Eastern Catholic church.

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