Sunday, May 20, 2007
BREAD AND CIRCUSES
I spent an hour getting ready for Mass this morning, and 25 minutes driving to church. As we drove up to the church, I noticed the Knights of Columbus standing around and thought, "I wonder why?" But then, I always enjoy the pageantry the Knights bring to a Mass.
Parking the car we noticed that there were a lot more cars than usual in the parking deck, but then, it was the first time we had attended the 10 a.m. Mass at this church, and that could explain it.
We went inside and found a seat, taking note of the full church, and also taking note that a family from our former parish was attending...a liberal family, the father of which claimed that the Roman Catholic Church could keep on functioning without a problem even if we end up without priests. Bad sign.
Up front a group was gathering--not in the choir loft, but up front. Husband and I both took note of the guitar at the same time. Another bad sign. We sat back to await developments. More people joined the group up front. Another guitar. People without instruments. A bongo drum. I looked at him. He looked at me. The music began. It may have been many things, but one thing it was not was reverent. Catchy beat. The keyboard saw to that. I whispered, "Do you want to leave and come back for the noon Mass?" He responded, "Will it keep your blood pressure down?" "Yes." We left before the first bongo beat could accompany our leaving.
Walking to the car we debated what to do next. Drive 25 minutes to get home, only to turn around in an hour and drive 25 minutes back? It would change our plans for the day, but we could work around it. Neither of us said it, but gas is expensive.
I don't remember which of us proposed that our former parish had a Mass at 10:30, and it was on the way home. That is where we ended up.
"I no longer have a church where I can reliably attend Mass," I commented as we were driving.
"Reliably," he answered. "Yes, that is the relevant word."
"Maybe next Sunday I'll try Orthodoxy," I proposed tentatively.
"Well, you'll be doing it without me. The only other place I will consider is that church down the road where they say the Latin Mass," he responded. The church that is not in communion with Roman Catholicism I wanted to add, but bit my tongue.
It was not until after Mass that I finally figured out what the circus atmosphere had been about. It was the celebration Mass for the pastor's anniversary. Had I been designing a celebration Mass for such an occasion, it would have looked a lot more like Benedict's Christmas Eve 2005 Mass which I watched on television. Solemn. Classical. Reverent. The anniversary priest is a man apart. What religion does he belong to?