Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Translation Tuesday: Christmas Hospitality

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.


Andy said...

I understand what you mean about the Mass settings. As someone who converted to Catholicism, and who now oversees the chapel music at a Catholic college, I always include the music for the Mass setting in our worship aid, and for Masses that have lots of visitors or infrequent Mass goers, I will often even put in when to stand, kneel, why certain things are done, etc.

PatGLex said...

I agree with your comments about unfamiliar Mass music. I visit my childhood home every summer, and attend Mass at my former parish, and I have yet to figure out the Mass setting they use. Like you, I am frustrated, being a cantor and choir member at my current parish and wishing to participate. I've quit flipping through the hymnal and worship aid to figure things out, since nothing matches what they're singing.

Liam said...

Parishes that do not provide the ready means and resources for People From Away to sing the ordo and psalter are grossly negligent, period. There is NO credible excuse, and I've heard tons of attempts to excuse or justify this.

This not only applies to Christmas and Easter, but equally to ritual Masses.

Scott Pluff said...

LTP's Sourcebook had a good suggestion. Rather than the usual Lessons & Carols before Mass, alternate carol singing with explanation of the new missal and rehearsal of the new acclamations. That's what we are planning for 5pm and Christmas Day. I've made the assumption that most people who attend Mass at midnight are more regular churchgoers, so at that Mass we'll just have an ample announcement about the worship aid at the beginning of Mass.

Alan Hommerding said...

I've grown increasingly uncomfortable with the term "hospitality" for providing this sort of assistance at Mass. There are visitors (maybe even quite a few) at Christmastime, to be sure, but if we use the model of being hospitable to guests, then we risk communicating that this place is "our" home and - while you are welcome - it's not your home. Any baptized Roman Catholic crossing that threshold is a member - actually any baptized Christian is a member of the Body of Christ gathered there in the Holy Spirit.
We should definitely be attentive (and definitely NOT be INhospitable!) - but perhaps to think of this ministry as empowering or enabling or even facilitating the prayer of those who are at Mass could lead us more in the direction of communicating "this is yours" "you DO this" "you are a celebrant" ...

Anonymous said...

I am actually hoping that there will be a lot of people at the Christmas mass that I attend who will use the old responses. I feel more comfortable using the old responses (which I prefer) when a lot of other parishioners use these responses.

Regarding mass settings, I have purposely chose which parish to attend mass at based upon which mass settings that I like better. I like that there is variation of mass settings, as well as in the music of the church. The reason that I started going to my "main church," for which I have been actively involved, is because I liked the style of music there. This church is a lengthy commute from my residence, but I have found this church to be my community and that the hours of commute over the years have been worthwhile.

I have wished that parishes would post the names of the mass settings that they are using online, or put it in their bulletin. I would definitely like the opportunity to chose which parish to attend mass at when traveling based upon their mass settings. Some parishes post this type of information, but most do not seem to.

peregrinus said...

On the bright side, this may be the first time those visiting will feel right at home with the regulars - reading through the responses in the pew cards etc, in the USA at least.

In my region, we have been using the new texts of the Order of the Mass since September. Most of the regulars have got them memorised, even the elderly folks that people were worried would have difficulties learning the new texts - I've noticed some of the loudest responses come from the elderly. The choir director at the Cathedral still reminds the congregation the texts can be followed at page whatever at the start of each major section, but I'm not sure how the other parishes will handle this when visitors who are unaware of the changes are in the pews with the regulars who have already got the new text committed to memory.