2011 PRAYER AND MEDITATION: No paragon of these am I, even if at 18 I left home to study them full time.
After two years of it (novitiate), I got my SJ degree, which I relinquished many years later but would rather not go into right now.
Even so, much of it has stuck. At Mass, for instance, I often enter the zone of prayer and meditation, which makes me a poor participant in the liturgy.
Doesn’t mean I think of nothing else (distractions, you know) or that I am superior to the fellow or gal next to me who belts out the songs and other responses.
In fact, you could argue I’m not as good because I seem to reject the communal aspect that characterizes today’s liturgy.
So allow me to hang my head in shame at that, asking only for tolerance, OK? I am what I am, stuff happens, and all that. Bear with me.
However . . .
Do we not exceed the limits of liturgical propriety sometimes when, for instance, we extend handclasp of peace to other pew-sitters far and wide, even getting out of our pews to hug and chat?
Just asking, don’t get mad.
Communion time also. What about our meeting and greeting on way to the communion station?
Ushers do it. They are the souls of geniality as if they were the host greeting you at the door of a party.
And they and others seem sometimes to take it amiss if you don’t participate, like the old gent at Ascension-Oak Park a few years back who stood where communion-goers passed, glad-handing one and all. I didn’t go along, and the fellow was surprised and wounded.
It happens. We get carried away with our communality.
Something missing? Sense of the sacred, anyone? The R-word, reverence?
Communion time at a Mass of burial, an arguably solemn time on an arguably solemn occasion: Worshiper who has participated lustily throughout Mass thinks of something to call to another’s attention, does so.
But the other is in a zone and working on staying there and can only nod and turn back.
Later, returning from communion, same worshiper has to pass others to get to his place in the pew, puts head down and looks straight ahead. Others for whom this is a social occasion seem not sure about this, wondering what gives with this fellow.
I ask you.
Is something missing that used to be there at Mass? What was missing from the Mass of old, a certain on-site communality, has replaced the prayer-and-meditation aspect.
Pious chatter there is, mostly from the altar, where Father feels compelled to comment when once there was silence. Time for some sort of pendulum shift? I ask you.