Monday, September 12, 2011

Irritations at Mass

Knowing that we would have to attend an OF Mass (Novus Ordo) this past weekend, I was planning to do a little compare/contrast piece to highlight the differences between them, and discuss how that makes a difference for me personally, spiritually.
That will have to wait. Right now, I find myself preoccupied with what went wrong at Mass on Saturday night. It really doesn't have much to do with the differences between the "new" Mass and the "old" Mass.
Father became very agitated when a car alarm went beeping away on the street just outside the church, and several people got up to see if it was theirs, and to take care of the noise. “Everyone is leaving!” he exclaimed. Twice. “Everyone”? About 5-7 out of 60 or 70. And then, in a dither, he threw up his hands, left the ambo, and sat down in a nearby pew to wait for the people to return. So much for the points he made in his homily on the ills of wrath, anger, and irritation!
Well, of course, we can certainly forgive him for becoming annoyed at the interruption! Such things are annoying and distracting. Let’s move on to that homily which was so rudely interrupted. Besides the wrath-and-anger part, he talked about 9/11/01, of course. He had announced from the start that this Mass was for the 9/11 victims. That’s fine; I have no problem with that, really. But then he said that God had gathered up all those souls who died in the terrorist attacks and carried them to Heaven. God told them, said Father, that the worst was over and they were going to enter into a place much, much better. Or words to that effect.
In short, all of those souls went straight to Heaven.
If that is true, if we really believe that, then why are we praying for them? Why is the Mass intention for them? Why did we take a “moment of silence” at the end of the homily to pray for them? If they are truly in Heaven – every single victim – then they do not need our prayers. We need theirs.
I was horrified at the fate of those victims. Still am. Yes, I think we should pray for them. But I don’t believe that God swept them all up and took them to Heaven. I think that a very large number of them probably went straight to…dare I say it?...PURGATORY. And despite the fact that being in purgatory means a soul is on its way to Heaven, my understanding is that purgatory is not pleasant, and it is certainly not more pleasant than what we are currently experiencing on earth.
At Holy Communion, I was not surprised – having attended this Mass before – that Father placed a cassette player on the altar so that we could hear a nice song for communion (there is no choir at this Mass). This practice seems to me to be a particularly egregious affront to Our Lord.
And finally…just because Father can play a musical instrument and is fairly good at it does not mean that he should perform a tune of his own composition in honor of the 9/11 victims immediately after Holy Communion. In the parish hall after Mass, perhaps…but not during Mass. In my humble opinion.
For a related post by Fr. Z, see "Too Fussy or Righteously Annoyed..."

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