Daily Mass is a strange and beautiful thing. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s different than any Christian community one might regularly attend. Ideally, if you go once, or every day, Mass is all about community, hence, communion and eucharist. The idea that, whether you know it or not, you show up and it is community. You are in.
I attended an evangelical church in Boston for a year. I lived next door to a regular attendee of this church. No one there really badgered me until, my neighbor noticed me there. Now, I’m not annoyed that I wasn’t badgered to “get involved” in church earlier, but there is this weird sort of feeling being in and out. In Evangelical church it is kind of expected that you get what you put in. You build community. You are building community. But in Catholic church, the community is already there, built, through all space and time, and you are always welcome and well-regarded as a part of the community.
That’s not to take away from real relationships with people in a church that are built in the present. But it’s important to recognize the different emphases. Relationships in real time do take time, that is a fact of life. But God is beyond time and space, so how God “builds” relationship and communion are beyond our comprehension.
I also go to daily Mass. I’ve done this for over a year now. I go maybe 3-5 times a week to Mass. Eight a.m. weekdays. When I started, it was in St. Mary’s Chapel at Boston College. This chapel is a beautiful chapel on BC’s campus. It’s big, and very narrow and long. The back of the church feels very far away. It always felt like a lot of people were there. The priests were never late or no-shows to Mass because they also lived in the building. Well, soon after getting used to being in there, we got relocated (due to renovation) to a repurposed library transformed into Chapel in Gasson Hall. It seems like about a third of the size of St. Mary’s.
A lot of people stopped showing for mass when the community moved. Or it seemed that way. I still am not sure, because I was never sure how many people were in St. Mary’s.
Welp, it got real awkward in Gasson real quick. There is tight seating. There is no way to avoid walking by across or through the very front of the altar. The sacristy is awkwardly placed, and there is no rhyme or reason to the order of how eucharist is done. And priests regularly stand us up and flake! This depends on the time of year and the weather. This week, the first week of the year, and one week before class, there was no priest. There are like a hundred priests within 2 miles of this chapel, but that’s far and it’s cold.
The stress, anxiety, whatever you want to call it, of sitting in the chapel waiting. Watching people come in late with Mass not started. A couple of the usuals get antsy, check the sacristy, whisper things to a couple other people, walk in and out of the chapel semi-frantically… Seriously, what is Fr. Punctual doing? There are more Jesuit priests in Boston than anywhere else in the world! And we can’t get one here at eight a.m?
Enter, something beautiful. Most of the time the priest is just late, flustered, and flies through Mass. But this week, there is no priest at all. What do we do? Communion Service! Basically, there is already some left-over Jesus in the tabernacle, so the community does the intro, mass readings, our father, sign of peace, eucharist, and benediction. What?! So the priest is just there to make the Jesus magic happen.
Even though this sort of service is on the fly, and due to lack of priest, it really shows how willing everyone is to pitch in and make something happen. This is why there are so many loopholes in the Catholic church—because what if there are no priests?! What if all the males die! What if there are aliens!? Stuff like that. They really have their “what if’s” down.
Back to sermon writing…