September 13, 2007

Hospitality Gone Wild!

Below I talk about how hospitality can be a part of helping someone who may be unfamiliar with the Mass or the form used in your parish (there could be Catholics who are unfamiliar with the ordinary form because they only attend the Tridentine Mass).

For years I was part of a parish where the quality of hospitality was judged by decibels and the numbers of people whose personal bodily space you could infiltrate-all this during the Mass. The Sign of Peace was a roving frontal Heimlich maneuver assault. Whoever could hug or wave or shout out at the greatest number of people in one minute proved they were a true member of the parish (and very popular!).

The danger of this excessive hospitality is that it can trick the faithful into thinking their sole reason for being at Mass is to fellowship with the other members of Christ's Body. No. The sole reason for Mass is to honor God. Period.

A lot of people who subscribe to the "We are Church" mentality think that JUST by honoring and showing love to each other we are honoring God. I think that, yes, you are honoring and showing respect to His Creation when you give love and respect to others. But, that's still not an acceptable reason for why you go to Mass each Sunday. Or, why you should go to Mass each Sunday. Why you MUST go to Mass each Sunday.

If you think you are just at Mass to see your friends, how easy it becomes to "stand your friends up" in favor of doing something else. Well, they will understand that I have other commitments. I'll see them next week. Or, we are getting together for lunch on Tuesday, that's enough.

When you start to realize and accept that the focus of Mass is to honor and praise and pray to the Creator, doesn't that make it harder to just toss the Mass away in favor of watching football or NASCAR on Sunday instead?

Hospitality can also be used as a way to introduce rubric violations into the Mass. Well, we want to be welcoming to all so we will incorporate some items under the guise of inculturation without bothering to ask the Ordinary for permission like: totem poles in the Procession, or sweet grass for the incense, or dancing the gifts down the aisle, or gongs instead of altar bells. I'm not always sure this is hospitality run amok or colonial guilt or both. Well, I digress here. Someday, I may have a more expansive post on inculturation.


Blogger swissmiss said...

My kids are too little for sports yet, but my nephews never see the inside of a church because they always have hockey or tennis or something on Sunday.

The parish we belong to doesn't usually include many of the things you mentioned, but what bothers me most is when Father thinks it is his job to inquire with everyone before Mass as to how they are, shake hands with everyone during the Sign of Peace, and have everyone raise their hands and, as a group, bless folks who are having a birthday or anniversary that month. I don't think any amount of inculturation or indoctrination or hypnosis is going to change my aversion to that!

September 13, 2007 3:32 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

swissmiss: Oh, yikes! You resurrected the horrifying vision of the group blessing. It always looks like one of those old B&W films of a Nazi rally to me.

September 13, 2007 6:23 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

"roving frontal Heimlich maneuver assault"


I think I'm gonna have to start working on the "Cathy of Alexandria Thesaurus." New visitors to the RDC blog are going to need something to keep track of all your neologisms.

September 13, 2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

My parish still does the group blessing thing, I hate it, but our priests are solid so it must be allowed somehwhere...but we don't have to like it!

September 13, 2007 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Fortunately, my priest doesn't do that stuff.

Here's one of my pet peeves. I usually sit right up at the front so I'm usually one of the first to receive communion. Afterwards, I'm clearly on my kneeler and I'm clearly in prayer after receiving the Eucharist. But that doesn't seem to stop acquaintances in the line from tapping me on the shoulder and saying hello as they go by. They're nice folks but it's a bit inconsiderate interrupting somebody's prayer time, not to mention the fact that the time before receiving communion should be better spent in preparing oneself. There's plenty of time to meet and greet after Mass, just not then.

September 14, 2007 7:02 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

nancy: That bugs me too. I figure they can come see me outside or downstairs in the doughnut line. OR, they can call me. We have a parish directory.

I appreciate the thought behind the tap but it is my private prayer time that is being interrupted.

September 14, 2007 8:03 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Amen! People have made the Holy Mass a social event. I hope we can get the reverence back!

September 15, 2007 10:31 AM  

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