Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014! (and my experience at Midnight Mass)

Merry Christmas 2014 to you and yours!

Hey everyone, sorry I haven't been writing as much as before. Hopefully that'll improve.

Tomorrow I will be going to "midnight" Mass at the hospital. They have Mass there every day, but for the eve of Christ's Birth, it's a bigger event. But compared to other services in the city, it's going to probably be the smallest.

I find sometimes the Midnight Mass at my local church to be something of a "show". They have a huge choir that seems to be the center of attention. The priest usually gives a very cheery, Christmassy homily. The people in the congregation are overly touchy feely. Right before Mass actually begins there is a lot of chit-chat. For many, this continues throughout the service.

During the night, I see people whom I've never seen before. You can always spot reluctant teenagers who are only there because of some kind of threat.

Because so many of the parishioners never go throughout hte year, they are not familiar with proper etiquette. For example, there is applauding at some of the choir songs. But this is not completely the fault of those in the pews. Much, or most, of the blame goes to the choir itself. Inevitably, the choir decides to have a solo performance following communion. Normally everyone has already received communion by this point and really the priest should be concluding the Mass.

But instead, once everyone has taken their seat again, you'll hear the piano begin to play Ave Maria or O Holy Night. I do a mental facepalm and wait while the soloist performs his or her dramatic piece. Once it's over, there is silence.

This part is crucial. During this silence, the priest should quickly react by starting the ending prayers. But of course he doesn't. Instead, nothing happens. It is now beyond the point of no return. Applause is inevitable. First a few people will start to clap, as if we are at a concert, and then, as is customary in a recital hall, everyone else will join in. I just sit there cringing.

Some people ask why I'm so negative and possibly mean-spirited. But they misunderstand. I would simply ask what the Mass IS. Is the Mass a gathering of the community to hear pleasant things about Christmas and to listen to some nice holiday music? No. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. We are transported through time and space to Calvary where Jesus gave his life for our sins.

Any music or reading or anything else any human does during this sacred event is only to highlight the life and death of Jesus Christ. Therefore applauding the singer, or the choir, or any other human is missing the point altogether of the liturgy. This is not a concern, it's not a form of entertainment. Applause is the recognition of a human accomplishment. During Mass, it represents a misunderstanding of the purpose and meaning of the Mass.

Bottom line: I will be going to a smaller service in the hospital. Hopefully it will stay true to the real meaning of Christmas.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

You'll never guess who I saw at the airport [Hint: He's a Catholic Answers Live Guest]

On one of my many connection flights from Phoenix to St. John's, NL (specifically the flight from Chicago to Ottawa), I saw the one and only Tim Staples of Catholic Answers Live. Of all the guests on the show, he is tied for first (along with Jimmy Akin).

At first, I wasn't sure it was him and I'm somewhat shy naturally. But then he took off his jacket, and his shirt said "Don't leave Peter because of Judas." Then I knew for sure it was him.

It was awesome getting to talk to Tim in person. He's very friendly. He told me about a conference he was having in Ottawa on the subject of his new book called Behold Your Mother which is a biblical defense of the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church.

After the flight, I had to pick up my bags, as did Tim, so I went to speak with him. I worked up enough courage to ask to take the selfie you see above.

Tim told me his wife just gave birth to their sixth child. What a blessed family.

I hope his conference goes well in Ottawa!