“Compelled by the Good News of Jesus Christ, we are committed to growing in a deeper relationship with God and with one another. We strive to become a more vibrant parish by inspiring an atmosphere of belonging, of welcoming, and by promoting opportunities to share and spread our Catholic Faith, so that we may be more united as one parish community.”
March 10, 2019, 1030 AM
Wow, these Catholics have worship down to an art. Maybe because they’ve been doing it the longest, or maybe because they are the world’s largest Christian church–whatever the reason–they’re good at it.
I entered the doors at 1025 and was handed a huge bulletin by the greeter. It’s twelve, 9×11 pages, covering everything you need to know about the church–its’ staff, ministries, schedules, collections and prayer list. For good measure, there are also four pages of advertisements. Yes, four pages to learn about attorneys, doctors, senior living, lunch options, funeral homes, heating and cooling, roofing, insurance, marble and granite and other companies. It’s a great way to multi-task, both for the church and for the parishioner in church.
There had to be close to five-hundred people attending mass in this bright, well-lit sanctuary. Some folks kept filtering in fifteen to twenty minutes into the service. We started by singing the opening hymn, and I was pleased to see they had a woman leading the singing from the front. With a beautiful voice in the lead, it’s so much easier to sing along, although no one around me seemed to sing. They had to put up with my singing, but I figure church is meant for sorry singers like me. Another pleasant aspect of the worship is that women did all the readings. They didn’t have on the nun outfits, so I think they were part of the laity. Responsive readings were both spoken and sung. We said the Nicene Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. The homily was good and not too long. The priest gave us just enough to chew on.
Then, without even announcing it, the ushers came down the aisles with baskets attached to long poles. This way, no one needs to touch the offering plates, we just plop the money in as the basket glides by our faces. Very efficient. Even more efficient, the priest prepared the communion meal while the offering was happening. So, we moved right into the sacrament time.
It was interesting to note that this church, perhaps all Catholic churches now, did not have altar boys. Only adults assisted the priest. And once again, they proved amazingly efficient in dispensing the communion. The priest gave out somewhere between ten and fourteen chalices to lay people, both men and women, who took up stations at the front, middle and back of the church. At the appointed time, again somehow everyone else knew when, we all stood and went to the station closest to us. I was prepared to stay seated and not receive communion, since I always heard that non-Catholics should not take communion in the Catholic Church. But because I was in the middle of the pew, I would have blocked the path for everyone else in the pew. So, I decided it was more Christian-like to go get the wafer. Besides, I was baptized as a Catholic when I was an infant. And I am a Christian.
A couple other observations: the woman next to me held a rosary throughout the service and I think she was crying. I wanted to reach out and comfort her but decided against it. I saw another woman worshipping with her arms stretched out, palms upward. The man in front of me guided his son’s finger along the words as the scripture was read. His other son used his own finger to read along. The priest was so far away from my spot, I couldn’t really see him. But at the end when walked down the aisle, I saw that he looked like he needed a vacation or at least a personal trainer. Maybe he spends all his time taking care of everyone else at the expense of his own health. Finally, I saw another woman wiping away tears in the parking lot.
I’m not a Catholic. I’m not sure I could ever become a Catholic. But I really liked this church. I liked the order, the routine, the use of music, the inclusion of children in the entire mass, the feeling of emotion and sacredness. Even the “pass the peace” time was well done–everyone greeted the folks around them without leaving their pews and crating “mass chaos.” Unfortunately, that perfunctory time was the only greeting I received. Therefore, this church FAILED the WELCOME TEST.