[quote=Alissa]On Christmas Even I visited a RC church just to see what it was like. My impressions:
- Tone/atmosphere: My church (Espicopal) - formal, reverent. This RCC -like many protestant churches - modernish, more like a social get-together.
- User friendly? Hmmm… No programs to follow, no missals in the pew.
- Sermon - generic (“Love your family”), 97% of it could have been delivered in a temple or a mosque.
- Ratio of parishioners to priest: Pack 'em in, say the mass, move 'em out. Then another mass with another huge crowd.
- Bored or distracted people (a higher % than in most Protestant churches I’ve visited).
- Attitude of priest: Seemed very overworked, in need of a long vacation.
Because of the liberal positions of the overall Episcopal church, I’ve started reading and learning about the RCC. Why should I leave an oasis (my own local church, which is not liberal) for a desert (my first impression of this local RCC)? Even if I should someday come to an intellectual agreement with all that the RCC teaches, what are the chances that other RCCs (twice as far away) would be the same?
I’m in RCIA. My responses to your points (same #s):
1. Years ago I used to go to an interdenominational meeting about once a week. Each week had a different pastor (but no Catholics). I really liked the Episcopal pastors. When I visited an Episcopal Church I was surprised to see how much they seemed to be like the Catholics.
2. I think the missal content can change every few years. In my local RC church, there is a section of the hymnal that has the Sundays’ missal material. So maybe the missals were there. And a lot of Catholics who like missals get a monthly subscription to “Magnificat”. It includes morning and evening readings along with mass readings.
3. Same here. What do you expect on Christmas Eve? The pastor is probably only trying to get people back into coming each week. Our local parish pastor is about my age (50). He loves to talk the Redskins. But his homilies are good. However, if you heard a mid-week homily, you would find their homilies to be more specific and not so generic.
4. That is Christmas Eve for you.
As for the crowd, you went to church at the most crowded time. Christmas is a day of obligation, and most like to get the obligation over with on Christmas eve. At my RC church, on the way out we feared to even genuflect in the aisles because one might easily get trampled. Similarly, I found that there was no time to bow in the lines for the Eucharist. That experience was a first for me – usually it isn’t that way even on mid-morning Sunday services.
There is much less of a crowd if you go during the week. And this is what I love about the Catholic Church. Any day you think you might like to go to Church, you can. And during the mid-week services there is no offering collection (unless it is Christmas or some major holiday). It is at the mid-week services that I find myself more relaxed and very able to receive the word and the homily.
5. Again this is because they are obligated to be there. And perhaps some of them only come Christmas Eve or Easter. If you come to a mid-week Mass, you would find it much different. If you really want to see a hard-core group of enthusiastic faithful at my local RC church, come to a first-Friday evening (1st Friday of each month). Or come to the 7:30am Sunday service.
6. Maybe he was overworked. After all, this Christmas was a bit hard on Priests. Christmas Eve services (Friday). Christmas Day services (Saturday). Both because Christmas is a day of obligation (attendance at Christmas Eve counts as Christmas Day). And then Sunday services (Sundays are also a day of obligation). At my local RC church, we also had simultaneous Christmas Eve services at a local school auditorium in addition to services at the church. So everybody could get through.
In some parishes, a Priest may be handling more than one congregation. Can you imagine how the Christmas weekend might be for that Priest?
This weekend is also another big deal. January 1st (Saturday) is usually a day of obligation and the next day is Sunday. There are also Friday night services that count the same as going to Church on Saturday.