Sunday, September 22, 2013

The parish I attend held a first ever (I'm quite sure, first ever) youth mass this evening. I slipped through the library into the back row, near the Infant of Prague statue. Hanging with the Infant of Prague. Not sure anyone changes his clothes anymore.

Attendance was lighter than a summer Saturday evening, but more than a weekday. With no one sitting near me, I sang as loud as I wanted. It's the youth choir's mass to sing at now. Their practices resumed only last week. They're out of practice.

For the most part, it was the same old, same old. It was billed as being, well not youth-led of course, but heavy with their participation. I expected youth lectors, but no. Maybe no one volunteered?

The homily was too long. It started with, I thought, a reference to Ur. The priest asked whether anyone knew where Ur was. I said to myself, in Mesopotamia, on the Euphrates. Abraham was called outta there. But then the priest went on to say that we've all "been there" and he spelled it out, "ER." An adult asked, "Emergency room?" (See, an interactive homily) True enough. But the comparative "-er" was meant. "Greater, faster, prettier." I mentally supplied "smarter," because that's my thing.

So, I tuned out the longwinded, dumbed down homily and opened to the Gospel text to see whether I could figure out Jesus' parable. I heard two different homilies on Luke 16:1-13 this weekend, and neither of them explained how to extrapolate anything meaningful about a relationship to God from the illustration of the rich man and the dishonest steward. Or what it means to befriend dishonest wealth. It's just a really strange, confusing passage. After, as expected, we recited the Apostles Creed.

It was curious to see who attended. I recognized a Boy Scout leader with his family. Some time ago, he had told me - poured his heart out to me, actually - that his wife had left the Catholic church for pentecostalism. By that, I think he meant just straight Protestantism - some people don't really know the difference - but he might really have meant charismatic. Anyway, his wife was there but initially her body language did not look content. Her arms were crossed. I expected her to run out at any point. Instead, she sent him out for a bottle of water which she drank. I imagined her complaining that in her church she gets to drink coffee during worship. Even the readings didn't lighten her up any. Not 'til the homily - which was a bit "preachy" (exhortatory) - he can get that way - did she take notice. By the time of the offertory hymn, she had her hand waving above her head. The song was about God's love and I guess it resonated with her.

Without the collective cues of a larger gathering, participants forgot when to stand / kneel, etc. Occasionally they neglected to say the responses, like "Amen." They behaved awkwardly. At the sign of peace, I made up my mind to walk across the aisle to shake the hands of a family I knew from Little League rather than merely wave at them from my place and smile. It was a good gesture to make, I think.

The thing about a Sunday evening service is that one can safely close ones eyes in pious concentration and not be mistaken for sleeping!

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