Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mass "Attendance"

A dreary Tuesday has dawned here in Chicago. I remember my first year here, after having lived in Florida. At our parish's Thanksgiving Day Mass, the priest began his homily with these words, "One wonders why we are so thankful on a day like this. We haven't seen the sun in 29 straight days!" Ah, Autumn in the Midwest.

Thanks to those who commented on yesterday's post. As I reflected more on my experience at Mass on Sunday with Bishop Trautman, it dawned on my that—to use the cliche— "it takes two to tango." At Sunday Mass, even if the celebrant does all he can to pray the prayers with conviction, if the assembly is not actively listening, waiting for the words to sink in, then the meaning of the prayer can be lost. And if the assembly is actively listening and the celebrant moves through the prayers with little enthusiasm an with a mechanical style, the meaning of the prayer can be lost as well.

Active participation in the liturgy is a holy and a human partnership. I constantly remind Catholics to expect a miracle every time they attend Mass. We should approach the celebration of Mass "tingling," waiting for God to touch us, to shake us out of our stupor, and to speak to our hearts. This is often hard work, because Mass attendance can be just that: attendance. "I attended my son's graduation." "I attended the spring luncheon." "I attended the lecture on air pollution." "I attended the 9:30 Mass." 

For us, "attendance" means so much more than showing up. And this is where the real work comes into play. God's always at work; we know that. We just need to do our part to see and feel that work. Greeters, lectors, cantors, psalmists, choirs, instrumentalists, celebrants, deacons, extraordinary ministers of holy communion, and every member of the gathered assembly must realize that God is at work in every holy gesture, in every sacred word and action, in the assembly itself, in the transformation of bread and wine into Christ's body and blood. This takes work. But, at least for me, the benefits are plentiful.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Diana | TeamRCIA.com said...

Perhaps we could think of "attendance" more in the sense of "attend," as in these definitions from the Random House Dictionary:

6. to listen to; give heed to.
7. Archaic. to wait for; expect.

Thanks for the thoughts! Please pray for the FDLC as we gather next week.