Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Sunday Mass: can't help but not go (obligation), others look forward to going. The subject of an article in Bible & Life written by a priest who spent 40 days on a silent retreat at a Benedictine Monastery where the monks go to Church four times daily: early morning, before noon meal, before evening meal and before going to bed at which time they sing the Liturgy of the Hours.
The article mentions the numbers of Catholics who come from different parts of the country to spend time at the monastery and attend the liturgy. The large church is often filled. On feast days the Mass is sung in Gregorian Chant; visitors are given books with Korean lyrics below the Latin, with the strange musical notations, few are able to follow.
The Mass usually lasts about one hour and half, and on big feast days two hours, yet they come long distances to be present at the Mass. There is nothing extraordinary about the Mass except for the singing which many fine moving and helpful in directing their minds and hearts to the altar.
The priest who is from Seoul sees a big difference in the way those who come to the monastery for Mass and the way some of his parishioners are quick to leave after communion and some after the last blessing even though the Mass on Sundays only takes 40 minutes. After the Mass is over at the monastery the 70 monks process out which takes time for them to leave the sanctuary, all the visitors wait in their pews.
He has spent some time in the country parishes and notices a difference in the way the city and the country parishioner attend Mass. It is not possible to say that the country people have more time on their hands; they are also busy. The difference is not, country and city however, but the way we look upon our spiritual life, and the importance we give it.
The future will without doubt see greater distractions and reasons to be occupied with our daily cares. Advances in technology more common, and we will be more attached to our smartphones as a 'vade mecum' (something useful that one constantly carries about), which already is the case for those both in the city and country. We are already finding it difficult to address the question of smartphones and liturgy for many will see it as a help instead of a distraction but this is an area where we need a great deal of personal discernment and discussion.
Some remember to set the phones to vibrate so the ringing will not distract others but at Mass should not we be so intent on what we are doing, that God and what he wants to say to us is all important. On our part we do everything we can to diminish the distractions, smartphones and even watches distract. We need to see the time spent at the liturgy as the most precious time of our week and not do anything that will take our mind off the Mass.