Friday, June 22, 2012
Struggles at Mass
I knew the moment we committed to coming home from California, that in some ways, this summer was bound to be a spiritual challenge for me. You see, despite the struggles of the last year, I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to attend a Mass that was not, for me, a time that screamed "near occasion of sin."
I didn't have to struggle with distractions or abuses that made me grate my teeth and I didn't have a single person glare at Mae just because she was a baby entering a Church.
More than that, I am embarrassed to admit that I did struggle with the idea of going back to the Ordinary Form.
Now before anyone is offended, let me explain myself. I know that the two Masses are equal and wonderful and beautiful. But I also know that my own human weaknesses are more often on display, at least to myself, and then later to everyone on the blog, when we attend the OF. It seems to me that no matter how hard I fight it, I find myself angry for the rest of the day after a blatant liturgical abuse. I find myself even more angry when someone does something blatantly disrespectful to the priest during Mass. Especially when the rudeness is the result of the priest correcting a liturgical abuse. It makes my blood boil and is my greatest pet peeve.
I'm sure that in many places this particular problem isn't an issue. But I've experienced it, over and over again, and it makes me angry and sick to my stomach. It causes me to begin writing out long winded rants in my head, only to catch myself doing so, stop, refocus on the Mass and then found I've begun again.
At the beginning of this summer I made myself a promise. No rants about Mass. No matter what happened, I would appreciate the beauty of what was occurring before my eyes and shut out everything else. I knew that the chance of my actually being able to shut everything out was low, but I promised that I would begin, again and again, taking a deep breath and focusing on that altar and on what was happening on it.
I returned home to a wonderful surprise. The abuse, which I've written about here so many times (and which you may remember if you've been around the blog for more than a year... but which I'm using all of my self control not to link to), had ended.
I stood, sat and knelt, my heart light within my chest as the Ordinary Form blossomed before my eyes. I stumbled through the changes to the Mass that we had yet to learn (I'm batting 500 right now with successful responses... and while that's awesome in baseball it's not so awesome in Mass...), and yet I loved them, loved the reverence, loved speaking the actual words that Jesus taught us when he taught us to pray, and not some more musically appropriate version that someone felt was better than the original (okay, I'm slipping there. Descending into a rant. As you can see, I have quite a way to go in eliminating this emotion. Let's see if I can't get back on track...).
For the first time, in a long time, I saw the beauty of the Ordinary Form without the haze of annoyance clouding my gaze. And it is beautiful.
That taste of perfection was not to last. We arrived in the midst of change. And the beauty of the words I love quickly reverted to my number one pet peeve.
So now I'm trying to recognize that I've been given a new opportunity. I'm trying to let go of the anger and annoyance I feel at liturgical abuses that I can't change. I've tried. I've written a letter. I know that others have as well. I've been angry and annoyed. I've let it effect me far beyond what it should. There is nothing more that I can do, but pray.
I'm trying to remember that, for whatever reason, these personal changes that have been made to the Mass, are very well loved by those who have made them. They obviously feel that they are important and wonderful and beautiful. They are not trying to desecrate or destroy. Their intentions are good. They likely feel the same way I do, when they perceive what they feel are changes to the Mass, even if that is the Masses actual form.
This summer I have been given a beautiful gift. I've been given a new appreciation of what the Ordinary Form can be. And I've been given an opportunity to offer up my greatest pet peeve. This summer I want to see the good through the things that bother me. I want to love past being irritated and past being "right."
And I pray I'll be able to pick myself up and start over when I fail... and delete any rants that begin to form in my mind and replace them with a prayer for love and patience.