Long-time readers know that I occasionally drag out this feature, in which I ask readers to share their experiences at Mass, focusing primarily on music, homilies and anything "special" that went on. As much as possible, we try to keep it a no-discussion thread, and simply report.
Why? Because some of us are afflicted with 'satiable curiosity, and in this case, specifically, a curiosity about what Catholics do around the world. On any given Sunday or Holy Day, when we all hear the same Scripture readings...what is being preached? What are the musical trends these days? What was particularly striking? What was lame and awkward?
So, here's your All Saints, All Souls edition. In the latter category you can throw in any particular observances of this month of November in your parish - for example, in a parish I used to belong to, a big board was erected in the sanctuary during November, and parishioners were invited to affix photos and other appropriate remembrances of their deceased loved ones to it.
And remember - all reports are welcome, and not just from Catholic parishes. Orthodox, Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran...let us know!
I took Katie to Mass at the Cathedral on Tuesday - we couldn't do an evening Mass because of her play rehearsals, but the first 40 minutes of Spanish I is skippable. (Block schedule, btw, so she still had half the class left to go when she returned), so 8am Mass it was. No bishop - he usually offers the noon Mass on holy days. It was an Indian priest, one of at least two in residence there. A pianist/organist and cantor provided music which was of the Be Not Afraid/Blest Are They variety.
The homily focused on the three aspects of church - militant, suffering and triumphant - although he didn't use those terms at all. It was a very basic homily.
What struck me though, during the Mass, was this (and I get to do more than report 'cause it's my post):
There were perhaps a hundred of us there. Mostly elderly people, a couple of folks under 40, the local Catholic bookstore owner, Katie and me. The priest was Indian. The lector was an elderly African-American gentleman. A Hispanic woman was the EME. A mentally disabled man sat in front of us - speaking every response and singing every song loudly and clearly - perhaps a mite slower than the rest of us.
I had such a sense of Church - in this quite small congregation in this cathedral in one spot in a very big world - perhaps helped along by the feast itself, of course. Church as not a gathering of folks who sort of believe the same things and get together because they feel like it, but Church in the real sense: the Body of Christ, present and real, not because you or I or a bunch of old guys constructed it, but because it just is - because God is, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and he is the vine and we are the branches, past, present and future, on earth and beyond. To not be a part of that - to try to envision a faith where it's just me n' Jesus, touching base when I feel like it, staying away when I don't, relating to whatever I can imaging God to be in the here and now, getting up each morning to recreate my own church in my head, looking around to find someone who thinks the same, hanging out with them for while until that stops working - it makes no sense. It's something, it's religious, it's spiritual - but it's not the Church.
Two more notes:
PBS’s weekly show, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, covered this year’s Vigil of All Saints and will be airing a segment on it in this weekend’s edition of the show. Broadcast times vary from city to city: in DC, it will air on WETA (Channel 26) on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 10:30 a.m.; on WHUT (Channel 32) on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 9am; and on Maryland Public Television (Channel 67) on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
For your local schedule, and for more background on the show, see the Religion & Ethics Newsweekly website.