Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Smells, Bells and Yells

Among the things I love most about being Catholic (the Eucharist, Confession, mass!) are the rituals we've developed over 2 millennia, ways of worshipping, of celebrating, of sharing sorrow, of joining together as a community. I love the pageantry inherent in a religion where the higher up you go in the leadership, the more flamboyantly you dress.

It's not just the extravagant vestments and gilded trim that attract my eye. I love what all the pageantry says about our worship: this is sacred, this is special, this is not "just another moment" in time. We are worshipping the Creator of the Universe, I Am Who Am, He Who always was and always will be.

My favorite masses include incense wafting high into the rafters, holy water sprinkled on the congregation, lots of bows and songs praising our God. I love intricately embroidered vestments and altar servers dressed in cassocks and surplices. I love the ways we Catholics mark our worship time as different, as sacred. I love that we dress differently, that we chant (sometimes in Latin), that we bow and kneel and stand and sit. I get caught up in it all; I lose "me" amidst the smells, the bells and the yells. My ego slips away, for just a little while, and my focus is solely on Him.

I know that not everybody will agree. My husband gets annoyed with the pageantry, thinking we spend too much focus on outward and not enough inward. The incense always makes Princess sneeze. But, I love it all the same.

I was away from the faith for about 10 years. Between college and BigBro's birth, you rarely caught me inside a church unless I was attending a wedding or funeral. When I was pregnant with BigBro and we began shopping for a parish to call our own, I took great comfort in the ritual of the mass. It was exactly the same as it had been the last time I'd attended... ten years earlier. I remember crying during the Nicene Creed, when I realized that I not only remembered the words, but still believed them.

Our mass is set to change at the end of next year. There are a lot of strong feelings, both pro and con, as we prepare for those changes. Me? I'm mostly excited. For a while, at least, we're all going to have to pay a lot more attention. There will be no rote chanting of prayers, no mind-wandering during the creed.

And, maybe, when we set aside the labels we place on one another and let the words of the prayers wash over us, we'll remember once more exactly why we celebrate the Eucharist: we "do this in memory of" Him.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful. I hope you enjoy the new changes.