Life

Praying

When your mind is full of Many Things, it helps to do cardio. And pray.


Cardio?

Yes, simple, mindless jogging and walking, so that as you move, as you develop a rhythm, you get an endorphin high ( that woo hoo feeling….would that all of life was lived on that high)….and you have time to pray.

I prayed my rosary each day this week while doing walking and jogging workouts.

Prayer without ceasing.

At the RCIA group , we talked about the Catholic Church, the faithful, the role of the laity. And thus of prayer.

The New Testament leaves us in no doubt that we should pray regularly. Our Lord taught, by word and example, that we should pray continually and never lose heart ( Luke 18:1). St Paul and other writers of the New Testament re-echo Our Lord’s teaching that we must “pray constantly” (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:16)

For this reason, the public and communal prayer of the faithful has always been considered among the first duties of the Church. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that from the very beginning the baptised ” remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” ( Acts 2:42)

One thing I have learned is that prayer throughout the day sanctifies my day, makes me aware of God and helps me to worship Him throughout the day.

And so I pray the Divine Office, in the morning and in the evening. I pray at Mass. We pray the Angelus, and grace before meals as a family.

But more than this, I find that I can pray throughout my day, while involved in otherwise mindless tasks. That jogging and walking or junk mail delivery walking, for example.

We shared at the RCIA programme how to make a simple prayer part of our day, part of our activity.

A morning offering perhaps.

Joy..

Yes, joy for me in spending that time in a fitness walk or jog, with Our Lord. Sometimes, I am passionate. I pour my thoughts and concerns for others into my rosary and into my walk/jog. Sometimes, I am dry and dusty. I meditate on the rosary in an almost mechanical rhythm , attuned to my feet jogging and or pattering in sequenced unison.

Regardless of feeling, I pray.

I join in with the centuries of Christians who have prayed the rosary and meditated on the mysteries of Christ’s life. I pray because Our Lord, and the Church, has asked us to pray. I pray for others; I pray for joy, to be almost surprised by joy, as C. S. Lewis described. A sometimes uncetain joy, a joy not always felt, a joy that comes, sometimes, in the midst of pain or discomfort or sacrifice for others ( pain and sorrow in life, discomfort and sacrifice in the discipline of making myself get up early and workout and walk and jog and not think of Other Things, physical pain in that sometimes aching heel).

Joy and pain and prayer.

“If you are joyful, it will shine in your eyes and in your look, in your conversation and in your countenance. You will not be able to hide it because joy overflows.

Joy must be one of the pivots of our life. It is the token of a generous personality. Sometimes it is also a mantle that clothes a life of sacrifice and self-giving. A person who has this gift often reaches high summits. He or she is like a sun in a community.” ~ Mother Teresa

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Life

What is a Catholic priest?

What is a Catholic priest?


And what do I, a laywoman and a convert, know of the priesthood?

Not a lot. But I am learning – through reading Church teaching, through books like In Good Company, The Priest Is Not His Own, Many Are Called. Through the encyclical Mediator Dei. Through St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. Through my dealings with priests – during Mass, before and after Mass, in parish life, as friends.

Why learn about the priesthood?

Because , What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God — a man who is invested with all the powers of God’ ….St John Vianney .

Or, as Fr Hardon has said,What is the Catholic Priesthood? The Catholic priesthood is that institution which is absolutely necessary for Christianity. That’s a large statement that the Catholic priesthood is absolutely necessary for the Church. So that without the priesthood there would be no Christianity left on earth. Remove the priesthood and you remove the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the world. Remove the priesthood and you remove the sacrifice of the Mass from the world. Remove the priesthood and you remove Holy Communion from the world. Remove the priesthood and you remove the sacrament of reconciliation from a very sinful world. Remove the priesthood and you remove the sacrament of anointing from the world. Remove the priesthood and you remove the divinely assured teaching of God’s revealed truth from the world. In a word without the priesthood Christianity would be a memory but no longer a reality. It would cease to exist on earth in this admittedly, difficult valley of tears”.

I think there can be a tendency to see priests as administrators, as those who head a business (the parish) and administer the sacraments and pastoral life in a corporate fashion.

There can be a tendency to see the Church, the parish, as a numbers game – people in pews, money given in the collection.

Pope Benedict XVI, in this week’s letter to seminarians, has warned against this style of thinking. The Holy Father has encouraged seminarians to put their relationship with Christ first; to do what is right, first

“It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The priest is not the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand.”

And what can I, as a layperson, do to support priests? For, if there is no Church without our priests and sacraments, there lies a responsibility for all. For priests, to maintain their relationship with Christ, properly ordered, and then to serve. For laypeople, to pray and sacrifice for our priests, so they will be encouraged and supported in their vocations.

To pray and sacrifice for all priests and religious but most especially for those whom we know, for those in our parishes, for those from whom we have received the sacraments. For those whom we love, those orthodox self sacrificing, compassionate priests… and also for those priests who are, perhaps, misguided and who may be less of an example than they should.

And to pray and sacrifice for vocations to the priesthood and to religious life, so we may build up the Church as a shining star, an example, a beacon to our often secular world.

religion, Unschooling

Today’s Unschooling Examen


Unschooling examen? See here.


I am grateful for A quiet morning, after work …and I and my youngest two sons are doing our own thing, peacefully,blissfully, before appointments and tackling the To Do List..one of the advantages of unschooling..just having time to be.

I am grateful for The Internet… reading about unschooling this morning :
(Cooking with what’s in the bag“It reminds me of cooking,” she said with a smile. “You can start out ahead of time with a recipe and go to the store to get the ingredients for what you’ve planned to make. Or there’s the CSA bag model, where you get your bag of vegetables from the farm, look in the bag, and go from there. Your kids are like the CSA bags, and you figure out what to make from what they give you.”)

….. and reading the treatise of St Peter of Alcantra :
( On prayer and meditationwhen a spiritually minded person rises from deep devout prayer, then straight away all his good resolutions are renewed, together with fervor and determination to do good; the desire then to please, and to love, a Lord so good and kind as He has then shown Himself to be, a willingness to endure fresh troubles, and chastenings,”)

Today my kids have learned via reading.
From me – reading and sharing a bit about St Peter of Alcantara
…and from their own reading.
Anthony – Gone With The Wind, Encyclopedia Brown, Of Mice and Men.
Thomas – About Chemistry, Spanish With Your Favourite Movies.

Today I saw God’s grace …In the life of the saints, in reading of the saints and in reading the writings of the saints. Models of how to live, of God’s Love for us, of Faith.

If you would suffer patiently the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer. If you would gain power and strength to overcome the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer. If you would mortify your will with all its affections and lusts, be a man of prayer. If you would understand the cunning devices of Satan, and defend yourself against his deceits, be a man of payer. If you would live joyfully, and with sweetness walk in the path of penitence and sorrow, be a man of prayer. If you would drive out the troublesome gnats of vain thoughts and cares from your soul, be a man of prayer. If you would sustain your soul with the richness of devotion, and kept it ever full of good thoughts and desires, be a man of prayer. If you would strengthen and confirm your heart in the pilgrimage with God, be a man of prayer. Lastly, if you would root out from your soul every vice and in their place plant the virtues, be a man of prayer, for in this is obtained the unction and grace of the Holy Spirit who teaches all things”. ( St Bonaventure)
Life

Silence

“It therefore becomes clear that care must be taken in the choice and execution of music if the sacred liturgy is indeed to reflect its innate splendour. It makes one wonder why we so often settle for second best: insipid tunes with lyrics of questionable theology, lifeless pre-recorded hymns, and secular songs that hardly raise one’s heart and mind to God. In these instances, a sacred silence would surely be preferable to such banal distractions. ”


And so concludes an article I read the other day, an article in a Catholic magazine. One I receive periodically.

You know, we don’t often hear a lot about sacred silence, in our busy lives, and in our often busy Masses.

What is sacred silence?

Psalm 46:10: Be still, and know that I am God

In praying the mass, in praying with the priest, in being silent with Jesus as we receive Holy Communion, we can be stiil…..not a self-centred stillness…..not navel gazing stillness…..but the stillness of intimacy with God, the stillness of contemplation, of worship.

This is sacred silence.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal,says ( number 45) .

“Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times. Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts. Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.”

Sacred means to be set apart for a holy purpose.

Silence becomes holy during Mass because silence at Mass is particularly set apart for God and worship.

Sacred silence during Mass, then, is a gift.

We should practice this sacred silence in our Masses. Practice becoming closer to God.

Hopefully, we will be encouraged in this by our priests in their celebration of Holy Mass. Hopefully we will not have to experience those “banal distractions”; the ones mentioned by the writer above and other distractions in the form of large or small extras; extra phrases and actions added to the Mass.

There is a time for silence, then,sacred silence, in our worship and liturgy.

There is a time for silence in our life, too. So we are not always at the beck and call of our phones, our texts, our Facebook notifications..So that we do not always have a lot of talk and a lot of music..but also some quiet times, in our lives, in our families.

We acknowledge this need for silence.

However, there is a time, there are times, when we should not practice silence.

Sacred silence is needed in our liturgy. Some quiet, set apart time is needed in our lives. But, sometimes, to be silent is the wrong thing.

Sometimes, instead of silence, we need to speak out. Speak out, in small ways, in big ways, as we are called, against things that are not right.

Against euthanasia, for example. Against abortion.

For chastity.

And, as lay people in our Church, in our parishes, sometimes we should not be silent about false teachings and practices.

We should speak out against these things; in Christian charity; perhaps simply by example. (Receving Holy Communion reverently so that others may know our belief that this is the Eucharist is Jesus).

Perhaps we should speak out by sharing books. Books about liturgy. About the teachings of the Church.

Perhaps we can make our comments, in a friendly ,casual manner as topics come up in conversation. With our smiles, with our hellos, our goodbyes, our social niceties.(“Wasn’t it lovely to see those little ones do that dance after Communion?” “Was it really?”).

A simple statement. yet better than silence ( Silence is assent, says Paul Scofield as St Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons). Better than facile agreement. better than a full blown argument.

Perhaps, too, we can speak out by blogging. Sharing the teachings of the Church, sharing the liturgical legislation, sharing experiences with others.

For to be silent about these issues is not to be sacred or set apart. It is to be remiss.

It is when people who know better are silent, or worse, move from parishes to other more orthodox parishes,. that less than stellar practices are allowed to continue. in our liturgies and in our Church.

The role of the laity is to pray, to live the Good News, to take the Good News to others. We are not to be arrogant. We are to be pious in our worship. ( The Holy Father has said that, fulfilling the lay vocation involves working to “give expression in real life – also through political commitment – to the Christian view of anthropology and the social doctrine of the Church..”).

But we are to be educated. And, once having been educated in what the Church teaches and why, especially with regard to the public liturgy of the Church ( for how we pray affects what we believe..lex orandi lex credendi..), then we must not remain silent. We must share our faith and knowledge and practice of prayer with others. In love. In big or little ways.

Each to his own.

What I desiderate in Catholics is the gift of bringing out what their religion is — I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity.

So wrote Cardinal Newman, Blessed John Henry Newman, in 1851. He went on to say…

I have no apprehension you will be the worse Catholics for familiarity with these subjects, provided you cherish a vivid sense of

God above and keep in mind that you have souls to be judged and saved. In all times the laity have been the measure of the Catholic spirit; they saved the Irish Church three centuries ago and they betrayed the Church in England. You ought to be able to bring out what you feel and what you mean, as well as to feel and mean it; to expose to the comprehension of others the fictions and fallacies of your opponents; to explain the charges brought against the Church, to the satisfaction, not, indeed, of bigots, but of men of sense, of whatever cast of opinion.

So, let us practice sacred silence in our liturgy. Let us savour some modicum of silence in our lives.

But also let us speak out in love when the situation demands it.

In our parishes. In our lives. In our example. In our discussions.

And, as the Holy Father has encouraged, via the new communication, the new media, the communication of our times – the Internet, be it in a public forum or on Facebook or a on a personal blog.

“Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication” .Pope Asks Bloggers To Give Internet A Soul

religion

Our Parishes


“It is in the parish that we learn to live our own faith solidly. This enables us to keep the rich tradition of the past alive and to re-propose its values in a secularised social environment which is often hostile and indifferent.” Pope Benedict XVI


The Holy Father has hit the nail on its head, hasn’t he? It is in our parishes that we have a chance to pass on the Faith..the true faith, not watered down sentiments or popular thought but the real teachings of the Church…how to live.

And it is in our parishes that we should exemplify the qualities of a life of faith…adoring Our Lord first and then sharing this with others.

Be it by good works, prayers, a smile, a chat… We are all called to serve Christ differently in our parishes and in different seasons of parish life…We are called to share our faith even by keeping that veil of Christian courtesy…so that we are polite , without envy, to all….even if some of our fellow parishioners are not those we would have as close friends, keeping the social niceties of a hello and asking about the day , rather than glares and gossip, is not being hypocritical…it means that the parish can function without malice or unnecessary upset.

I have written before of social capital.

An idea that refers to the connections between individuals and entities that can be valuable for a community. Social networks that include people who trust and assist each other can be a powerful asset. These relationships between individuals and organisations can lead to a state in which each will think of the other when something needs to be done. Along with economic capital, social capital is a valuable mechanism in growth. Social capital describes the value created by elements, intangible elements, such as trust, reciprocity, communication, community.

Social capital, when used to encourage others, when jobs are shared amongst many, when people, in a community, in a parish, are encouraged to help out, to talk, to be friendly, is a good thing. An example of living our faith.

Social capital, however, in our community and in our parishes, can also have a negative effect on living our faith. When it is marked by exclusiveness.

Social capital is A Good Thing when it works in an atmosphere of goodwill. But the possible negatives are Exclusion of outsiders; Excess claims on group members; Restrictions on individual freedoms; and Downward levelling norms.

In the past, in parishes, I have seen a safeguard against these negatives. The safeguards have been others, laypeople, priests, religious, who choose to serve without personal gain; who serve without hidden agenda; who choose not to form cliques but to invite others to join. And to help out.

Indeed, some of the new people are there simply because of the welcome of others…others who saw the positive outcome of social capital and thus included these new people..And so we must guard against letting our emotions or likes and dislikes negatively affect this social capital.

We learn to “live our own faith solidly” in our parishes, parishes where there is a positive growth of social capital. We are enabled to keep the “rich traditions of the past alive.”

How? At the risk of being repetitive, we learn to live our faith and to keep the rich traditions of the past alive through our liturgy, the public worship of the church, as a community.

I write, again, of the hermeneutic of continuity.

Yesterday, for example, our parish had a rosary procession. As we walked around the grounds and down the local footpath we prayed the rosary as generations have done before us. We prayed together. We were, perhaps, a witness to others..that man watering his garden, that girl riding her bike.

This is one way of keeping our faith alive, of keeping the traditions of the past alive.

And we do this, also, strongly, in the main, when we pray at Holy Mass.

I was lucky yesterday. I prayed at Holy Mass celebrated with care for rubrics and with reverence. I heard a homily, tying in the life of Christ and thus the mysteries of the rosary, with the current debate on life, on euthanasia, here in Australia. I heard the teaching of the Church; I heard the words of the Gospel; I received Jesus in an atmosphere of silence and awe.

The sad thing about my statement above, however, is that I feel I was lucky to have experienced a reverent mass.

It really shouldn’t be considered lucky to have reverent mass experiences in parishes; if we are to take the Holy Father’s words seriously, then reverent masses, keeping alive the traditions of our faith of the past, should be the norm so that, along with social capital, we can “re-propose” the values of the past, of the Church, of our Faith.

We re-propose these values when we pray at Holy Mass; when we are lifted out of our every day concerns towards God.

‎”What is the House of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among their dogs?”

From The Lord of the Rings…and quoted to me by a son after a mass that paid little attention to rubrics but much attention to things, to activities, added to the mass but that were extraneous to the mass.

A sad commentary; and sad that this sentiment, this quote, had to come to the fore after mass.

But this is what happens when we forget why it is that we celebrate Holy Mass. When we forget why it is that we celebrate together in parish communities.

The rubrics of the mass are there for the priest to celebrate the liturgy as the Church describes.

Simple, really.

Yet not always experienced in parishes.

I was lucky, yes, am lucky to have Holy Mass celebrated with attention to the sacred, to reverence, to awe, to wonder, to Our Lord…in my parish.

Others are not so lucky…

Years later, I would be ordained to the priesthood in another diocese after completing my studies and formation in a kinder, saner seminary. I remember saying to my first pastor that, if I had an “agenda”, it was to celebrate Mass according to the liturgical legislation of the Church as documented in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM). It didn’t occur to me until a few years later how truly radical — even allegedly “pre-Vatican II” — such an agenda would be thought to be….The purpose of liturgical legislation is not to encourage “rigid rubricism” (that would be difficult, anyway, given the number of options permitted by the GIRM); it is to promote the noble goal of reverence and unity in Catholic worship.

The rich theology of the Mass, unfolding in ritual over the centuries, becomes intelligible, both to young priests and to parishioners, gradually; by a familiarity that comes with repetition and with careful and consistent observance of the liturgical norms. If this is neglected, if the norms are ignored, a powerful means of transmitting the Church’s teaching about the meaning of the Mass is lost.

This is why the Second Vatican Council teaches that “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (Sacrosanctum concilium 23). …On Rubrics and Divisions

It is, then, in our parishes that we learn to live the Faith; to keep the rich traditions of the past alive; to re-propose the values of Christianity in an often secular world.

As the Holy Father has said.

But this happens only in parishes where we see the growth of positive social capital, not exclusiveness amongst people and groups…and in parishes where the main focus of parish life is the prayer of the Church, the public liturgy of the Church..Holy Mass celebrated according to liturgical legislation..so that we adore Our Lord, we receive Him with reverence, we think of Him…and we take this faith in practical ways, small or large, to the wider parish life.


Life

I walk the line…

I walk the line…. Strains of that Johnny Cash song run through my head.

Well, I also have the tune of Lady GaGa’s Eh, Eh in my mind … And Bruno Mars’ Juat The Way You Are.

But it’s Walk the Line that I want to write about . Because it describes the blogging experience .

I blog to share with family and friends. I blog about our life, as unschoolers, hence the title Living Without School. It is my personal blog. I write of our life , my life , our experiences, my experiences, our interests, my interests.

If you check the 1, 222 ( now 1,223!) blog posts since 2005, you will see a variety of posts on a variety of topics. Reflecting current interests.

In recent times, that interest has been the public liturgy of the Church.

I post our every day stuff, the liturgical year, to friends on Facebook. I tend, since the advent of Facebook, to publish D & M stuff only here on the blog, and daily stuff on Facebook…. D & M as in Deep and Meaningful. For me. As much as I can be deep and meaningful I guess.

And so I walk the line. How much to post? How much of me to share?

But, ultimately, the fact remains that this is my blog.

It is not a public discussion forum. It is not an online debate.

It is, pure and simple, my blog .

You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. Or if you don’t like the posts. Or my writing style.

Read other blogs if not mine .

It’s okay.

I will continue to blog. To share my life without school. To share my interests.

To try to walk the line.

religion

Fast Food and Holy Mass

Have you ever eaten a meal at McDonalds? Come on, ‘fess up!

I have. Today actually.

And what do I find? Well, at first, I ate the pancakes with Vegemite because I was physically hungry after mass and a workout. And they tasted good. And then I ate the hash brown because I was feeling sad and food helps.

And then, that pleasantly satiated feeling moved to a queasy stomach feeling.

And, later, I felt hungry again. For real food. A piece of fruit. Some pasta. Anything that would fill that emptiness.

That emptiness caused by the fast food…too many calories in too short a time, fast food that fills you up, temporarily. But doesn’t feed you, satisfy you, sustain you…it leaves you wanting more.

Leaves you searching for something else. Something more real.

And it occurred to me that this was an answer to a question I heard yesterday.

The question was asked over morning tea. The others present had been to morning mass in their parish. And talked with surprise at how the innovations to the mass that their new parish priest had instituted had not brought more people to mass.
These ladies had been all in favour of liturgical dance in mass, giving out pens; handing out baptismal certificates as part of mass for all the children baptised that month; having children receiving the sacraments this year wearing a stole so they are noticed and feel important, and having a commitment card signed each Sunday…to get the families to mass.

Yet, no-one turned up to mass to receive their certificates. They had their babies baptised. They had been to mass and to the classes. They weren’t interested in being forced to come to mass again, forced to be part of a false man constructed community just to receive the certificates.

Mass maybe was not that important to them. Or perhaps the false community building and false enforcement irked. (It would irk me).

The co-ordinator (a woman of course – God forbid that we have priests make announcements) apparently read out the myriad of names. Welcomed everyone to the community. Everyone who…was not there. Everyone who did not attend, do not attend mass, that is.

And then , at our discussion, the ladies said they were flabbergasted . ‘You were right”, they said.. “Getting kids to have a commitment card signed doesn’t bring them to weekly mass as we thought. They just tick the box” .

“Why?” I asked, however. ( Why was I suddenly right?)

After mass, one woman said that she saw a family pull into the church car park of their parish. Mum and daughter got out, dad turned the car around in the car park. Daughter was wearing the purple stole, showing she was one of the candidates for first Holy Communion later this year. Mum and daughter ran up to the priest, who was chatting to people after mass …and they had their commitment card signed. To say that daughter had been to weekly Sunday mass. They promptly ran back to the car and left. Without attending mass.

The priest signed the card – how was he to know, in a very large parish,. who had or had not been to mass? Although he was the priest who instituted this signing of cards in the parish, saying it had been a great success in his last parish. A great success in collecting signatures?

And so, these ladies , over a cup of coffee at Gloria Jeans, told me I was right when I said that we don ‘t get people to come to mass by making them tick boxes. They tick their boxes while they have to and then they leave.

The ladies asked – “How do we get these people to mass? How do we make mass more interesting?”

To be honest, I think that question is part of the problem.

We are not fast food purveyors, needing to change and add innovations to our menu and market ourselves. Our parishes are the Church. Christ’s bride.

And sadly, sometimes in these people’s parish, and in many parishes, this fact appears to have been forgotten. Instead, the people are fed junk food, with me-centred liturgies and banal homilies and modern, pop culture hymns ( although we have a hoard of centuries of sacred music from which to pull hymns…but that is another post) …and people leave, barely fed, certainly not sustained, still searching for real food.

The very sad thing is, we have the real food. We have the Eucharist, the Real Presence. Yet, in some parishes , the Eucharist is not the main focus, God is not the main focus of the mass….in many parishes, the homily is no more than an Oprah-style monologue , the focus is the priest and the lay people at the altar, the jokes, the laughter, the schmaltz ( “Wasn’t it lovely when Fr told that story about the baby? There wasn’t a dry eye in the house???”…..I’m sorry, dear, but I can have a good cry over an excellent romantic comedy and I get better music, too).

People come to mass, many times, searching or struggling. Perhaps it was a struggle to get there, to get the baby ready, to rush there before work. Perhaps, in their busy lives they are looking for some solace. They come with their joys. They come with their sorrows. They come with their hassles.

They are looking for something more. They are fulfilling a Sunday obligation.

Astonishingly they come, in spite of the liturgy that, in the parish my friends discussed, is often trivialized and banal…akin to a sad re-run of bad sit-coms. It is stultifying. It is uninspiring.

It is even capable of sapping your faith.

Just as a diet of junk food fails, ultimately, to feed us well, to meet all our nutritional needs, to develop our palates and help us discern flavours and textures..so, a diet of brain zapping, me centred, almost anything goes liturgy fails to satisfy. The focus becomes less on God and the Sacrament of the Eucharist and more on me, on you, the priest, on innovations, on being relevant…and, in trying to catch up with popular culture and in trying to force community, it fails.

Fails us by not creating real community, built on love of God and neighbour and natural bonds. Fails us by not being as good at pop culture as the rest of the world ( I last heard that song, Morning Has Broken, in the 70s and it was played much better then. By Cat Stevens. You know?) .

Fails us by not reminding us of Whom it it that we receive and why He died for us and why we receive Him and why we should go to mass.

Ultimately, the fast food, junk food mentality of many liturgies in this day and age, in our Western culture, leaves us wanting.

And this is why people don t go to mass. Well, one of the reasons. Why drag yourself out of bed to face banalities and a priest in polyester vestments telling the same jokes over and over again ( “I’ve heard the peanut one three times now, Fr” ), why listen to popular music , why hear what Dr Phil has to say from the mouth of that laywoman . Why push yourself to get to mass to hear talk back radio sentiments from the priest…unless we really, truly, believe that Jesus is present on our altars.

He is.

But not many know that any more, as that speck of the Eucharist on the altar has become just that..a speck, hardly noticed in the general hoo-ha of the happy, clappy banal liturgy.

So, they don’t come to mass. Unless they have to.

How, then, do we get people to go to mass?

Not by jokes.

Not by making them come to receive certificates.

Not by having cups of tea after every mass, every week ..

Not by making them have commitment cards signed.

Not even by having multicultural processions.

But by prayerful liturgies. By offering something different to that which the world offers – silence, reverence, prayer, good music, adoration of God. Answers. Sacraments.

By following the rubrics carefully, for heaven’s sake. So people know, without a doubt, that Jesus is present under the appearance of bread and wine. That He died for our sins, so we might receive eternal life. That He is there to heal wounds, to love, to forgive sins.

We get people to mass by prayer and education.

By being counter-cultural.

By being what we are..

The Church. Christ’s bride. The Truth. Love.
We get people to church by being the Church and not impressing them with our egos ( me, me, it’s all about me!).

This morning I went to mass. I prayed at mass. A reverent, solemn mass for the feast today, St Francis of Assisi. Careful attention paid to the rubrics. Careful attention paid to the liturgical arts. Gold vestments. Great homily on St Francis, and on his love and obedience. On Christ’s humanity.
With the focus of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, on Jesus coming to us, on the altar, under the appearance of bread and wine.

Reading the words of St Paul to the Galations in my missal, I thought of this mass and the mass described to me yesterday.

One glories in Our Lord; one, sadly, almost glories in man.
But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.
Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen Galations 6:14-18

To my mind, people need masses that speak to the whys of life (glorifying in the cross) and they are tired of more fast food , in their masses..and in their diets.