Ah, the final "New Translation Tuesday" before Christmas 2011.
I know that there is some anxiety out there regarding the throngs who will appear at our doors for the Christmas Masses. Some will know that changes in the Mass texts have occurred; many will not.
As I have traveled around the country over the past two years or so, I have asked people to consider seriously the commitment to hospitality during the Christmas Masses of 2011. For the majority of "regular" parishioners, picking up a worship aid has become a habit over the past four weeks. Those who are not "regulars" will not have developed this habit and will certainly be a little more than confused as they come to Mass this coming weekend. In order to be a welcoming parish, we'll need to be sure that these folks know that there have been changes. We'll need to ask them to use the worship aid for the entire Mass. Perhaps at Mass the First or Second Sunday of Advent, your parish priest reminded people to pick up the worship aid at various pivotal points during Mass. I believe that practice needs to be put in place for all the Christmas Masses as well. Greeters might remind people who enter to pick up the worship aid and take a look at the changes in the texts. Remember that the majority of these non-regular parishioners will not have had the benefit of months of catechetical preparation. Is there a simple announcement that can be made before Mass that simply outlines the reasons why the texts have changed?
Have you ever attended Mass in a parish that used a musical setting of the Mass with which you were completely unfamiliar? Most parishes simply do not give any indication to visitors regarding the musical setting. Perhaps it is in the parish's hymnal or missal; perhaps not. Being a frequent Catholic "visitor," I always think that there might perhaps be something at the doors of the church alerting visitors to the place where they can find the musical setting. It's so uncomfortable for me, a singer, to sing the hymns and songs at Mass in a parish but to remain silent for the acclamations. Perhaps this is a good thing to remember as Christmas approaches. Let's do everything we can to be sure that our visitors are given everything they need to celebrate the incarnation of the Lord.
Have you made additional plans for extending hospitality to your visitors this coming weekend?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.