Sunday, December 10


Workers' Mass

I know that a handful of priests read this blog, and so I thought I might make an appeal to those who are parish pastors.

I firmly believe that a number of people in your congregations would go to daily Mass, and that you can take steps to do this. I believe it because of my experience at my parish.

My parish is about 300 families, I would estimate. We have a daily Mass attendance of about 80 people; during Advent and Lent, over 100.

Father’s approach is very simple: enable almost anyone with a job to be able to attend this Mass. Mass begins every day at 7:00am, sharp, with two verses of a hymn played by the organist. There is no homily. By 7:08, Father begins the ordinary of the Mass. By 7:17, I have received communion. At 7:21, the Mass is over with another two verses of a hymn. Perhaps a dozen people stay for a long time to pray; the rest mingle or head to work.

Father is, deservedly, pleased, I think, with the attendance at daily Mass. He suggests attending daily Mass from the pulpit on Sundays, particularly before Lent. People hear him, and people come.

This is very easy, yet it avoids so many, many, many pitfalls which the celebration of daily Mass so often suffers.
(1) Impossible Time. Most daily Masses seem to take place after 8am, which rules out the majority of professional works from attending.
(2) Irregular Time/Place. Parishes almost always move their daily Masses around, having one here at this time and another there at that time. Perhaps the idea is to get more people to come? Yet, all it does is prevent people from making that Mass a regular part of the daily routine. "Is Mass today? Where? When? Oh, whatever, I’m late."
(3) Inconsiderate Length. I have attended daily Mass in the morning and seen priests preach for 15 minutes. No joke. You can see the employees turn red and rap their knuckles, the parents turn jittery, etc. There is no need to preach a reflection beyond a few sentences, if that. We all know why the people are here at 7am on a Tuesday: the Blessed Sacrament.
(4) Funkiness. Often, it seems, celebrants want to jazz up a daily Mass somehow or another, opting not to use this vestment or to break that rubric, as if to compensate for the low-key nature of a daily Mass by making it different or more interesting. And yet, we spend time with our friends every day precisely because we know who they are and like the time we have with them. Spending time with Jesus, similarly, is not dependent on how unpredictable that time is.

I can only give two answers to these concerns that so often prevent Mass from being a simple, quick, and no-frills daily routine: first, the fact that people, in my small parish, flock to it; second, the following reflection from Card. Newman on why a quick, no-frills Mass is not only defensible, but deeply beautiful:

To me, nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Mass for ever, and not be tired. It is not a mere form of worlds,--it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth…. [The Eternal] becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble… Words are necessary, but as means, not ends… they are instruments… of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on as if impatient to fulfill their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick; for they are all parts of one integral action… Quickly they pass; because as the lightening which shineth from one part of the heaven unto the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man… Each in his place, with his own intention, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching it progress, uniting in its consummation… There are little children there, and old men, simple laborers, and students… but out of these many minds rises one Eucharistic hymn!
--Card. Newman, Loss and Gain, part ii, chapt. xx.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?