- I'd like to attend a parish where the priests don't feel the need to ad lib parts of the Mass to improve on it.
- We really wanted to find a place where the Our Father was said (or sung), word by word, without any additions to "improve" the way the prayer "fits the music."
- We were hoping for a place that was kid friendly and where the presence of a child, even a quiet child in their parent's arms, wasn't met with glares because said child has the potential to be noisy.
I have other, lesser requests, like that the tabernacle be in plain sight, in the middle of the church, and that the altar servers not be so completely sulky that one wonders if they're assisting in Mass or assisting in a state execution. But since wishing for all of these things may be asking for too much I try to simply dream of a place that meets the top three requirements.
As a result of our past experiences, I've been a bit nervous about attending Mass lately. Mae's "I want to be down right now" attitude hasn't helped. She's at that difficult phase during Mass that parents everywhere hope just to survive. The words: "this too shall pass" come to mind frequently when I'm baby wrangling in the narthex.
I was especially nervous when we walked into the oratory at the new quasi-parish we were thinking of attending (and now are going to be attending!) and it was so quiet that you could, quite literally have heard a pin drop. Now even on their best days, my children are much louder than a pin. Sadie has the potential to be entirely silent, but as I held Mae Bae I did wonder how I would survive the next hour. There were hardly any children in the building and only five minutes left until Mass began. I took a deep breath and prepared to pace in the back to keep Mae quiet.
Then they began to flood in. Families. They'd been waiting until the last possible moment (I imagine) to bring the little ones inside the silent building. There were at least a dozen families, most with toddlers, many with babies.
I had to take Mae out after about ten minutes, but found that there are speakers in the narthex so that anything I can hear in the church itself (the readings and the homily) I can hear sitting outside. And before very long I was joined by other parents who were trying to keep their little ones quiet.
It was also at this point that I realized that Mae Bae is actually pretty good at sitting still for her age. While she was noisier than I felt comfortable with her being while we were in the church itself, she did sit in my lap for the entire hour. There were definitely parents that had a more challenging hour, and I began to realize that the range of "normal" for a one year old seems to go from much quieter than Mae to much more rowdy. My main goal in the narthex was that Mae understand that she needed to stay on my lap during Mass. And while that wasn't the easiest goal, it wasn't the most difficult either and we survived.
As we drove home, both agreeing that this was most certainly our new parish home, I mentioned that it wasn't the Latin part of the Mass that is actually the main attraction to attending the Latin Mass for me. It's the ad orientem part. Paul was rather surprised by this and asked for an explanation. And here is my explanation:
I've seen so many Masses over the years (kind of funny since I only converted four years ago...) where the purpose of the Mass seems to be less about the Eucharist and more about the mentality that We are Church and that the Mass is about Us. It drives me crazy. And, in my opinion, it's from this sort of mentality that the idea that we can "improve" upon the liturgy in some way or another, arises.
When the priest is facing the altar it's really, really hard, to imagine that the Mass is all about the people attending. The message is clear. We are here because Christ is present in the Eucharist. We are celebrating this great gift, as he told us to.
And as Fr. Z pointed out in a recent post, we should remember towards whom the prayers are addressed.
I love the NO Mass. I really do. When it's done correctly (i.e. it follows the missal) it's beautiful. But the abuses that seem so common at so many of the Masses we've attended drive me crazy. And in an attempt not to go crazy and spend the entire Mass trying not to write blog posts in my head (definite near occasion of sin...) about the fact that the priest made up his own eucharistic prayer, or the words to the Our Father were changed yet again, we're going to start going to the Latin Mass, at least on Sundays (I find there are less "elaborations" during the week). I'd like us to attend a daily NO Mass at least once a week (and ideally more often) once Mae is through the "down, right now!" phase.
And that, in one rather long post, is how we decided on our new parish, despite the half hour commute!