Monday, June 28, 2010

Mass in Thirty-seven Minutes

Monday greetings to you all.

My parish, St. James, here in Chicago, does not celebrate a Saturday vigil Mass. I decided to find a parish in my neighborhood with a vigil Mass on Saturday afternoon. Having found a parish nearby, I drove into the neighborhood at about 4:50 for the 5:00 P.M. Mass. When I walked to the front of the building, the priest told me that it was really hot in the church and that I should find a seat near a fan. It was pretty warm in the building, but not stifling.

The music consisted of these pieces: Sing to the Mountains, (no Gloria), Psalm from the hymnal, A Gospel Acclamation,  The Summons at the Preparation of the Gifts, Eucharistic Acclamations from Janco's Mass of the Angels and Saints, Only This I Want at Communion, and City of God at the closing. The opening song, song during the preparation, and the closing all made me feel like it was 1979 again. The homily was very brief. The entire Mass lasted exactly thirty-seven minutes. At the conclusion of Mass, the celebrant apologized for rushing through the Mass, but he did so because it was so hot. He said that he had hoped for Mass to be under thirty minutes and promised that if it were this hot next weekend that the Mass would definitely be under thirty minutes.

Honestly folks, I felt so detached from the celebration. I recalled that Sunday Mass the weekend before at Saint James lasted nearly an hour and a half. Too long? Yes, but due mostly to a very protracted homily. Did I feel totally connected at that liturgy at Saint James? Absolutely.

I was left feeling sorry for the people at the Saturday parish. My hope was that their usual experience of the liturgy is so much better than what I experienced. It did leave me thinking about people who attend Mass in parishes where the liturgical life is just like what I experienced on Saturday. It just seemed to me to be the kind of place where you get your card stamped saying you attended Mass and then you came the next week and did the same.

Do you have experiences like these? In your own parish? When you are traveling or on vacation?

Lastly, I had the chance to sit on the roof deck last night and do the Sunday crossword and watch the sun set. Here you go:

Thanks for listening, and I hope you have a great week.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


byte228 said...

There is a parish near me that has a 30 minute or less policy for Mass. I went there once with my in-laws and found that there should have been a warning sign on the pew that read "Keep your hands and arms inside the Mass at all times." I felt like I had received liturgical whip lash. Everything was recited except a 1 verse opening and 1 verse closing song.

Diezba said...

This sort of Mass breaks my heart. I think this priest needs to read what the Holy Father said in his homilies around the end of the Year for Priests.

Does anyone still remember the "source and summit" business? How can a rushed Mass with everyone focusing on the heat by the "source and summit" of anything?

For reparation to our Lord Jesus Christ for the disrespect shown to him by half-heartedly and hastily celebrating Mass: Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Chase said...

Just some thoughts on the music... I've experienced this several times as well, where a parish's repertoire consists of pieces written mainly in the 1970s. I think this has very little to do with anything theological or ideological on the part of the parish. Rather, in most cases, it seems that the 1970s was about the last time new music was learned in the parish. It's a shame, really, but I'm not sure how one handles a parish without the commitment or resources (talent and desire, mainly) to actively maintain and cultivate a vibrant music ministry.

Anonymous said...

That is the sort of Mass where you just have to work all the harder to join your sacrifice to Christ's. And, after experiencing a Mass like that, I always find that attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form really restores my spirits!

Paul said...

That's really sad. There was a parish close by that had mass which lasted only 28 minutes. The priest would tell the musicians "Let's bag the Gloria" His homilies lasted no more than two minutes. Everyone thought he was soooo cool. He is no longer with us...died at a young age in a accident which includes circumstances that cannot be documented here. Why be a Priest if you don't want to celebrate the sacraments? It's your "job".

Mary said...

I'm guessing it was the style rather than the actual songs that brought back 1979. (City of God published in 1981, The Summons 1987). With only one visit, though, you don't really know what pastoral concerns or personnel issues might have prompted those choices.

37 minutes would invoke 1979 for me, though, and since changing countries I have had back-to-twenty-years-ago experiences like that too. I've though and prayed a lot about it, and come to the conclusion that God has me here for a reason (modelling different behaviour than what folks in my new country are used to). That said, I work very hard to avoid places where I know that I can't cope with the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet liturgy.

In your case the reason is different: maybe it's a good reminder of what parish people outside of the "main" Sunday Mass have to work with.

Jeffrey said...

The fact is, such Masses exist because they are both possible and they are allowed.

I doubt you have ever witnessed a Mass said which skipped the Eucharistic Prayer or which substituted ice cream for wheat hosts simply because it was hot in the church (not allowed)...

...or one which actually sung all of those parts which are supposed to be sung, proclaimed all readings and prayers, and included a well-written and meaningful homily, all in under 30 minutes. (not possible).

But as long as cut-n-paste liturgy is possible (the Missal certainly makes it possible), and mediocrity is allowed by Bishops, pastors and others, this will be aproblem.