3/10/2011

Perturbed

Last night, at Ash Wednesday Mass, I was perturbed.  I had to do a lot of asking God for patience and tolerance.  Mass was crowded.  That was the most people I've seen at Mass in a long, long time.  It was almost like Midnight Mass.  The CCD kids (that's "Sunday School" for you Protestants!) and CYO (youth group) kids were all piled in the pews.  That was great...no problem there.

The 8:00 p.m. Mass was billed as a "bilingual" mass.  Okay, no problem, the church we attended in SC used to have bilingual masses a lot.  However, the Eucharistic Prayer (the most important part of the Mass) was always said in English so that the majority of attendees could understand what was being said.  Last night it was said in Spanish.  And, to make matters worse, the priest celebrating the Mass always says that part of the Mass so low that you can't hear it, and with there being so many people in the church, there was no way to hear it.  So...you've got a bunch of kids in Mass, hearing a language that they're not fluent, and a priest that can't be heard.  Amazingly they did a good job in trying to be quiet, but then you've got a bunch of babies talking and crying.

The beginning of the Mass was in English, then it switched over to Spanish during the readings.  No big deal, we all have English/Spanish books so we could follow along.  The Gospel:  in Spanish.  No homily, followed by the distribution of ashes.   Eucharistic Prayer:  Spanish.  The Lord's Prayer:  Spanish.  He switched back to English toward the end of the Mass.  I will have to say:  Hearing the Lord's Prayer being sung in Spanish was beautiful.  Knowing that, this one time, the Hispanic & English communities were in unison almost brought tears to my eyes.  In our parish, there isn't a whole lot of "mingling" of the two communities.  I don't know why, there just isn't.  I'm sure the "bilingual" Mass is one way to intertwine the two, but I had to work hard at not letting my emotions consume the reason I was at Mass last night.  It was hard, I'm not going to lie.  But. I think next year I'll take a half-day off and go to an earlier Mass.

9 comments:

  1. Do you have a big hispanic population there? I wonder if services are more crowded because the world is a rather depressing place in recent days?

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  2. I have to agree with your last sentence, Mary. I can see why they might do a bilingual Mass but for those who aren't bilingual (like I'm not) it would not be a satisfying worshiping experience (at least for me). I would imagien they would want to try to mingle the two communities together, but I'm not sure the bilingual Mass is the way to do it as opposed to fellowship times, picnics, etc.

    betty

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  3. Our bilingual masses are LONG! Everything is repeated in both languages - even the homily.

    Find peace in knowing you received all that grace through the Holy Eucharist...but we have to use it.

    A priest once said that you can all receive grace through the sacraments, but if we do not use them it doesn't matter.

    Take a glass of white milk. Pour some choc. syrup in - don't stir - still white milk. We need to "stir it up" to get that choc milk effect :)

    I always loved that analogy!

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  4. I think I would have been frustrated too from your explaining it here.
    Next year, you'll hit the earlier service and all will be well.
    Take care, Suz

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  5. @That corgi

    Mass is actually one of the best ways to bring both communities together because it has much more draw than a picnic would. At least, that has been the case at my church. Bilingual masses are unavoidable at smaller churches because if there is only one priest, it makes more sense to worship all together as one (and for the priest to say one mass as opposed to several), instead of having separate masses. Keeping communities separate with different masses seems a bit counterproductive to me if you're trying to bring people together in Christ. That being said, there are English and Spanish masses at my church on weekends, but all the special days/Holy days, there is usually a combination of bilingual, English, and Spanish masses to choose from.

    I've been to Spanish mass several with 500 children in El Salvador, and it is simply beautiful. I've also gone to mass that was entirely in Arabic, also incredibly moving. I find that if it's not English, I have more time to focus on what is really going in during Mass, more time for personal prayer, what it means to me...Mass is the same in any language in any part of the world. That's the beauty of being Catholic! :)

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  6. That would bug me too! I also did not realize you had a large hispanic population there. Interesting.

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  7. So sorry about that. I believe we live in the United States of American and English is our language.

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  8. Mary, I can understand your frustration that on what should have been a spiritually rich day, you were distracted but the circumstances around you.

    I will offer that some of the most beautiful worship services I've ever participated in were in languages I did not speak. They were all in some variety of Protestant church, so we didn't even have the "predictable" ritual you have in Catholic services. Unless someone else stood up or sat down, I had NO CLUE what to do! But as you said, hearing certain music sung in a different language, yet knowing what it was -- THAT was worship!

    These services forced me to focus on why I was there -- worship -- and not on what I was receiving. Last year when our pastor was going through a particularly ... um ... dry ... sermon series, I struggled with it again.

    So I started a new practice in the last year or so. When something really irks me (in church or out of it), I try to step back and ask God what it is I'm supposed to be learning from it. Nine times out of 10 God lets me see that the behavior annoying me is one that I do myself to people I know OR worse, to God! Here are some examples:

    Kids not listening to me.
    How often do I not listen to God?

    People driving like they have a death wish.
    How often do I proceed down a literal or figurative path like that and only when I'm in trouble call out for help?

    Please don't think I'm admonishing you in any way -- I'm offering these ideas because I had to learn them the VERY HARD way myself and I'm always hoping other people are smarter than I am! And I'm still learning them...over and over and over again!

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  9. @soutlakesmom: Thank you so much for your suggestions; they are GREATLY appreciated! I will definitely keep that in mind!

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