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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Impressions of Mass

I wrote this on my other blog, and thought readers here might like to read it as well:

I have been following Barbara Curtis's trek across the Tiber and was particularly interested in her impressions of the mass. Earlier this year I read blogger Candy Brauer's offensive mischaracterization of the mass. Barb's remarks reminded me and I was inspired to do a comparison between Mrs. Brauer's impressions of mass and some other famous mass impressions.

I will be contrasting comments from Barb and Mrs. Brauer along with those of two other well known impressions of the mass - those of Justin Martyr a 2nd century Christian, and Professor Scott Hahn, well known convert and professor of scripture at Franciscan University in Ohio.

Candy in black
Barb in blue
Justin in red
Professor Hahn from his book Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicismin green.





Question: Have you ever attended a Catholic mass? "Yes. It was so sad and gut wrenching that it almost brought me to tears."

"I find that the Mass puts me more in touch with God."


"After pronouncing the words of consecration, the priest held up the Host. I felt as if the last drop of doubt had drained from me. With all of my heart, I whispered "My Lord and My God. That's really you! And if that's you ,then I want full communion with you. I don't want to hold anything back."



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"I was the only one attending, that I could see, that brought a Bible, and even bothered looking up scriptures. The Bible ignorance in that crowd was astounding me as well. Most of them don't seem to read their Bible"

"We begin by confessing our sins. We hear Scripture straight from the source - Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and Gospel. I hear a humble homily of 10 minutes which encourages me to dwell on the scripture I've just heard."


And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.

I watched and listened as the readings, prayers and responses so steeped in Scripture made the Bible come alive. I almost wanted to stop the Mass and say, "Wait. That line is form Isiah; the song is from the Psalms. Whoa, you've got another prophet in that prayer." I found numerous elements from thw ancient Jewish liturgy that I had studied so intensely. All of a sudden I realized this is where the Bible belongs. This was the setting in which this precious family heirloom was meant to be read, proclaimed and expounded. Then we moved into the Liturgy of the Eucharist where all my covenant conclusions converged. I wanted to stop everything and shout, "Hey, can I explain what's happening from Scripture?



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"they just follow what 'the church' teaches them. Everyone there looked to me like they were wearing masks with no eyes.

We recite the Nicene Creed (which is an affirmation of what we believe) and the Our Father (which Christ taught us to pray). Then - as Christ taught us - we remember him by an ancient tradition of receiving the Eucharist - which people met to do long before they had Scripture to discuss


Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

All of a sudden lots of ordinary people began coming in off of the streets - rank and file type of folks. They came in, genuflected, knelt and prayed. Their simple but sincere devotion was impressive.


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" :-( I suspect that there might have been more true reverence (as opposed to ritual) in a black mass"(however they'd be worshiping the wrong guy, of course)."


And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.


Then a bell rang and a priest walked out toward the altar. I remained seated; I still wasn't sure if it was safe to kneel. As an evangelical Calvinist I had been taught that the Catholic Mass was the greatest sacrilege that a man could commit- to resacrifice Christ - so I wasn't sure what to do.

I watched and listened as the readings, prayers and responses so steeped in Scripture made the Bible come alive. I almost wanted to stop the Mass and say, "Wait. That line is form Isiah; the song is from the Psalms. Whoa, you've got another prophet in that prayer." I found numerous elements from teh ancient Jewish liturgy that I had studied so intensely. All of a sudden I realized this is where the Bible belongs. This was the setting in which this precious family heirloom was meant to be read, proclaimed and expounded. Then we moved into the Liturgy of the Eucharist where all my convenant conclusions converged. I wanted to stop everything and shout, "Hey, can I explain what's happening from Scripture? This is great!" Instead I just sat there famished with a supernatural hunger for the Bread of Life.

3 comments:

Tracy said...

Awesome post Elena!!

KitKat said...

I never feel more at peace than when I enter our Catholic church. I do not understand Protestants who need "preachin' and feedin'" at their worship services. I was raised Lutheran, and I was amazed at how similiar a Lutheran Divine Service II is to a Catholic Mass. The non-denominational, non-liturgical services that I have been to seem almost selfish to me. It as if those in attendance say "This is how I need to worship the Lord" rather than "This is how the Lord wants me to worship". I have friends who are habitual church hoppers because they need to be "fed". I just don't understand. Personally, I love liturgy. It comforts me. I can focus on each part of the service because I know what comes next. Maybe I am just crazy.......

Blondie said...

I remember the first time I read Dr. Hahn's impression of mass, I couldn't wait to go myself. I had been to mass a few times many, many years ago but I was young and really not paying attention to what was going on. One of my best friends was Catholic when I was little, and sometimes I would spend the night with her and go to church with her and her family on Sunday mornings. The other times I was at mass was when I was dating my former (ex) husband, he was Catholic and so I went a few times. (He was pretty much CINO, and eventually quit going to mass all together.) So, when I read RSH, I hadn't attended mass for about 15 years. Reading his book made me so aware of what was going on. I was just in awe the first time I went, and couldn't get enough. I wanted to go daily! And I remember learning that there WAS daily mass, and I couldn't believe it - you mean I could really go every day if I wanted???

Kitkat wrote: It as if those in attendance say "This is how I need to worship the Lord" rather than "This is how the Lord wants me to worship".

This is exactly what I began realizing when I started on the journey home - in fact, before I ever even looked into Catholicism, I began questioning myself after church on Sundays (we were going to a Southern Baptist one at the time): "Is this how God really wants us to worship Him? Or is this how we want to worship God?" The whole service was basically singing contemporary worship songs with a great, professional sounding band and "praise team," and listening to a 45-minute "feel good" sermon. I had no ideas asking those questions would eventually lead me to the Catholic church!