Sunday, January 8, 2012

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A-Mass-ing Evidence

My husband and I went to Mass Saturday evening, January 7, 2012: the Solemnity of the Epiphany.
I will report, as objectively as possible, what we experienced.
The entrance hymn was "O Come All Ye Faithful", sung a cappella by the congregation, led by the priest as he processed to the sanctuary with one acolyte.
The offertory hymn was "We Three Kings", sung a cappella by the congregation, led by the priest.
The Communion hymn was "O Little Town of Bethlehem", played on a CD player that was placed on the altar.
There was no incense. The acolyte read the first two readings.
During the opening remarks, the priest noted that we were celebrating the feast of the Epiphany, and that this marks the day when the three Wise Men arrived at the stable to present their gifs to the Baby Jesus. And indeed, the figures of the three kings had been added to the Nativity scene in front of the altar. No mention of any other epiphany themes was made.
During the homily, we were informed that the Greek word for "epiphany" means "to show off".  Father suggested that when we look at the myriad of Nativity scenes around us – whether in paintings or displays with statues – this is what we see: Mary and Joseph are simply sitting or standing, gazing at their baby in admiration; proud and happy, they just can’t get enough of Him. They are there greeting their visitors, admiring the Babe, and "showing him off" to the Magi!
We also learned that the Magi represent us – you, me, the whole world. And just like us, when the Wise Men got to the stable, they were strangers, but then right away they “became family”.
Near the end of the homily, the priest entered into a little humor/entertainment mode by telling us what it would have been like if those wise men had been wise women.  Three wise women would have asked for directions instead of following a star; they would have arrived on time – before the birth of the baby; they would have brought a casserole, or arranged for a potluck to be held for the Holy Family; they would have brought diapers, a crib, a pacifier, formula, etc. They would have tidied up the stable and helped with the birth.
As the final note of the homily, the priest prayed a little prayer for us for the new year; it started out with something along the lines of “May you have enough tears to keep you warm and compassionate”, but I was unable to remember all the rest. So, upon returning home, I googled “enough tears to keep you compassionate”. I arrived at this site, a create-a-wedding-ceremony website, which included this option for a “benediction”:
…May God give you enough tears to keep you tender, enough hurts to keep you compassionate, enough of failure to keep your hands clenched tightly in His, and enough blessings to make certain you walk with him…
Yes, I think that’s very close to what Father prayed for us.
After he concluded his homily, Father said he wanted to make two announcements about news from the Vatican. First, he mentioned that 22 bishops/priests have been created cardinals. He said that two were from the United States, and he named them. Then he mentioned that there was one from Father’s own native country who is 85 years old and who lives in Rome, but travels often to Father’s native country; he repeated this fact a few times, because, as he also noted, this is only the second time in history that a priest from his native country has been named a cardinal.
Then Father explained about the Anglican Ordinariate. He reminded us that there are priests in the Anglican Church who are married and have children. These married priests, he said, will be able to become priests in the Catholic Church (but not bishops), and they will keep their wives and their children, and still do “the thing that married couples do”. He also mentioned that these married priests would not be able to remarry if their wives died, just like permanent deacons in the Church. He did not mention that the women running the Episcopal church across the street would not be eligible.
This was not a “Children’s Mass”.

The account I have given is true and factual, to the best of my knowledge and ability. I also maintain that the overall quality, content, and tone of the homily described, is representative of the general character of this priest’s homilies, which I have experienced frequently over the past 6 years (though less frequently in recent years, for reasons obvious and not so obvious). The general quality of liturgical practices was also representative, though I have not discussed them in detail here.
Therefore, fellow Catholics, I submit that what I experienced at Mass on January 7, 2012 in a particular parish in Eastern Oregon, is a representative specimen of one of the primary causes of the watering down of the tenets of our faith, and the dissolution of our Catholic identity.
Funny…I barely noticed the new translation…

1 comment:

  1. Totally with you on your final analysis of the Mass. At a local parish, the priest spent his entire Christmas homily refuting the belief in Christ's birth being Dec. 25. I asked if doing so would undermine the faith of some, perhaps not well formed individuals?

    Our exchanges rarely go well.


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