Fr. Michael White is the Pastor of Church of the Nativity, the Roman Catholic Parish in Timonium, Maryland. As they mention on their web-site, they “are a growing group of disciples, orthodox in our Catholic faith, dynamic and creative in our commitment to the “New Evangelization.” Specifically we are all about reaching out to “de-churched” Catholics in our north Baltimore community with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. ” Their motto is: “Awakening the Faithful; Reaching the Lost; Making Church Matter.”
Christmas Eve used to depress Fr. White. “It seemed like everyone left early. Anyway, I was talking about the problem with a friend, and I said, ‘It is so disappointing, we put so much effort and time into Christmas Eve and people just rush out after communion, what is that all about?’ And my friend, who runs a very expensive restaurant told me the same thing actually happens at his place. ‘People make reservations weeks in advance; they spend a lot of money. Early in the evening the place is packed, but then everybody rushes through his or her dinner and the place is deserted before you know it.’ Why? My friend said, ‘Michael, they just want to get it over with.’
Father White posted a Christmas blog about the above-mentioned phenomenon. (It can be found here) He mentions that perhaps the reason people come to Mass
late and leave early has to do with HOPE (or a perceived lack thereof). HOPE was an important aspect of the papacy of Benedict XVI, important enough for him to pen an encyclical about it entitled, Spes Salvi.
Over a period of several weeks, I did my own, informal survey. According to our most recent “October count,” on average, about 200 people come to worship at St. Monica during each Mass. On average, I counted how many people arrive at St. Monica after the Cantor finishes the announcements and we begin the Opening Hymn. The number: about 139 people (70%).
Why is that?
Austin Faur is a seminarian in Third College from the Diocese of Raleigh currently studying at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia. He is one of a number of seminarians who write for the blog, Seminarian Casual. He talks about Mass as “The BIG GAME” on Sunday!” During football season, you know how you’re talking about the strategies, the “keys-to-the-game,” the anticipation as Sunday approaches? And after the game there is the “arm-chair quarterback” analysis, the opinions, the second-guessing. And in between is the exciting roll-out of the actual event. Austin says that “Making Mass Meaningful” has the same components. Read what he has to say about “Pre-Game/Pre-Mass – Game Time/Mass time – Post Game/Past Mass.” I think that you’ll find it interesting, informative and helpful.
It is certainly easy to criticize people whose worship style seems to be a bit minimalist in practice, as Father White laments. But perhaps we need to look deeper and see that this might be a “symptom” instead of the actual “problem” and address the hunger for HOPE in our parish so that everyone is prepared for the REAL “big event” on Sunday.