Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Straw Mass and Feast of St. Francis of Assisi 

Our priest was in good humor at the RCIA straw mass last evening. It occurred to me that he must have been going on fourteen hours or so of work since weekday mass is at 7:30am and the straw mass ended around 9:00pm. Yesterday was also the blessing of the animals for St. Francis of Assisi's feast day. I will try to remember his example the next time I have a fourteen hour day. At times, our priest dove too deeply into the technical terms for different aspects of the mass, including discussion of the Latin phrases behind different items. In retrospect, perhaps that's OK since different people at the straw mass were obviously at different skill and knowledge levels in the Roman Catholic faith.

The main thrust of Father's straw mass is to emphasize thought about what we are doing. Why go through the motions of crossing yourself if you don't do it with thought and with care? Why go through the motions of genuflection if you aren't facing the Tabernacle where the host is stored, if you're not thinking about the presence of Jesus? Why come to church if you only intend to stand silent in the pews while the community around you sings and prays? Remember, your children, all children, are watching your example. If you give no thought or feeling to mass, why should they?

Father said that when we dip our finger in the font and cross ourselves upon entry to church, we are not only remembering our baptism, but we are also dying and being reborn for the next hour as the bride of Christ. The priest is the Groom, is Christ, speaking to his Bride, the Church, the Body. Prayers and responses are scripted to emphasize that we are one body, one bride, responding to her groom. Our priest is a stickler for the rules and said repeatedly that if he doesn't care enough to follow the rules of the church, why should we. On several issues, from the location of the Tabernacle to intinction (dipping the bread into the wine) to the scripted responses during mass to kneeling during service he repeated that too many priests in America take it upon themselves to make their own rules and how wrong that is.

Attendence wasn't outstanding, but it was mostly different people than were present at the last straw mass six months ago.

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