What’s something positive that shocked you at a Mass? I remember attending a typical Sunday Mass at a typical parish out of town a number of years ago.
Everything was pretty mundane/average except the altar boys – four of them plus their dad who pretty much acted as an MC. They were superb – really as good as I have ever seen.
They were militarily precise without being severe in any way. They were so good, they were shocking to me. I’m used to far less.
They had a coffee social after Mass and I asked the father of the servers how they pulled it off? He smiled and said they “drill.” They just take it very seriously and make the effort to practice.
They were immaculately vested in white albs, white cinctures, shined black shoes, the works. The dad wore a black cassock and a white surplice. They took it very seriously and it showed. It was also appreciated.
I attended a Mass a few years ago that was filled with students from the local Catholic School.
Father incensed the altar and then incensed the students, teachers and others assisting. It was a beautiful way of underscoring lifting up and offering our hearts to Our Lord.
They were not drilling during Mass. They drilled outside of Mass so that they could beautifully serve Mass. I think about that experience a great deal when I see young servers struggling in the sanctuary because no one has ever taken the interest or made the investment to properly train them, or when someone is trying to “direct” them from the front row for the same reasons.
In the end this father and his sons did their very best to serve the priest who was celebrating the Mass. To suggest that’s an “obsessive compulsive ritual” is highly offensive and incorrect.
Just this last Sunday, right after mass, I told the priest how much trouble I was having with gas, work scheduling, and finding a way to get to confession within prescribed times. I also told him about how sometimes work gets in the way of Sunday mass. His response was to tell me of a parish not far away where confessions were heard 7 days a week and also to inform me of the Prayer of Spiritual Communion. This last thing blew me away! He said that going to mass and receiving communion on the wrong day of the week and reciting the Prayer of Spiritual Communion on Sundays wasn’t as good as attending Sunday mass and receiving communion then, but if there was no other alternative, it was a good substitute. Color me pleasantly surprised for once!
Actually, it was a low Mass (O.F.) and it was a first for the students.
I visited with some of them outside of church later.
They were used to seeing the gifts being brought up and not necessarily thinking of their hearts as part of that gift being offered.
The incensing affected them deeply.
May God bless them and their priest.
At my wedding my young nephew served as an altar boy for the first time. The priest took him over to the closet and let him pick his own cassock. He choose red. He was so proud of the honor of serving that he sat devoutly during the Mass looking like a young Cardinal or Pope. This was a highly spirited boy who usually couldn’t sit anywhere for long. Also, the elderly sacristan took him under his wing and coached him on what he needed to do discreetly. That also inspired me.
At a funeral for a second cousin elderly missionary priest, my first cousin stayed behind in the pew at Holy Communion time because she couldn’t receive. Her father had her and her brothers convert to Russian Orthodox at a young age. She knelt in the pew with her arms crossed and a beatific look on her face. Even though she couldn’t receive, she devoutly recognized she was in the Real Presence of Jesus.
Sadly in contrast, my Roman Catholic or rather fallen away Roman Catholic aunts snickered
and made jokes outside our cousins’s Russian Orthodox wedding regarding a posted dress
code. They were very disrespectful regarding some very reasonable requests.
Last Sunday, a visiting priest at the Mass I chose to attend gave a fundraising sermon for a Catholic mission group. And it was a really good sermon. He was witty and he got the kids in the congregation involved. I was shocked and impressed by his speaking skills. I believe one of his main tasks is going around raising money for this group and he was quite masterful at his craft.
Years ago when I used to serve Mass as an adult, we used to have “Heritage Masses” once a year. I was scheduled to serve an early Mass the following month when I got a rather abrupt call from the “Heritage Mass Committee.”
They wanted all servers to wear cassocks and surplices. They asked if I had a red cassock (which used to be in common use at my parish many years before.) I said no, I had a black one though. That wouldn’t do! I said they should have a child serve the Mass and we ended the call.
They I got an email demanding the maker (Almy) and size of my black cassock. I sent that to them and the parish actually bought me a red cassock. I told a lady about this at Mass whose late brother had been a priest, as she always liked when I wore the “black and whites.”
She gifted me with one of her brother’s AWESOME cassocks. It was way over the top lacy, but the look in her eyes mandated a wear it. The day of the Heritage Mass came, I put on all the garb, and went outside to pray a decade or two of the Rosary before Mass.
Some kids with their parents approached and one of the parents said “cardinal, will you please give us a blessing before Mass?” I explained what was going on and then introduced them to the pastor.
That was good for a 5 minute laugh – just the thing, just before Mass!