I've been struggling on my work weekends to find a Mass to go to that doesn't leave me feeling bitter. I know that's a horrible way to start a blog and an even worse way to view Mass, but there it is. Either the music is terrible, or the homily is way too long and I'm torn between fuming or leaving after communion, or nobody participates, or there is no sense of community, or all of the above. I decided to try Mass at MPB (Most Precious Blood for those of you not in the know, although both people who read my blog are in the know) this morning. I was a little put off when I walked in to a circular set-up with no sign of the tabernacle and more chairs than pews, but it got better. It was a little reminiscent of St. Vincent de Paul in Omaha, where I hated the architecture but loved the priest and the music and the sense of family.
Granted, the music had the flavor of a 90's charismatic church, and Fr. Pat (who I probably hadn't seen since 1999 and therefore was reinforcing the theme) gave a super long homily. But you know what? The choir and musicians were enthusiastic, the congregation participated, Fr. Pat compensated for the homily by working quickly through everything else so we still finished on time, the homily was relevant and funny, the people around me were warm and welcoming. There were certainly elements that wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but on the whole, I consider it a success. We need more Masses where people leave feeling like they would come back and repeat the experience if given the choice. So on that note, here's a quick excerpt from Fr. Pat's homily (not one of the relevant parts, but one of the funny ones):
"I haven't really slept since the 70's. A couple years ago, I saw a doctor about it and I told him that I can't really ever manage to go to bed until 10 or 10:30, and then it usually takes me 4 or 5 hours to fall asleep. He said 'That's not normal.' One of the hazards of celibacy- how am I supposed to know that's not normal? So I did a study and they found that when I was supposed to be sleeping, there was a part of my brain that wasn't turning on. I said 'Let's stop this study before they find out how much of my brain doesn't turn on."
He also talked about how we need to be less concerned about what the world gives us and more concerned with how much we give and who we become in the process. How we try to give our kids (or get for ourselves) some kind of head start and all we really do is rob them (or ourselves) the opportunity for an adversity that might build character. He said that we need to stop assuming that we are doing things right when life is easy. Christ wasn't on the cross thinking, "boy, I really screwed that up." Maybe when we struggle, it's because we are living life as it should be lived, and the experience is molding us into a person who is closer to who God would have us be. So, I'm going to try to focus on that this week. I hope.