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Archive for the ‘Liturgy’ Category

We left off yesterday with a new plan for my returning to Mass with a view to trying out a new [to me] local parish where I wouldn’t know anyone. I think I had forgotten, or possibly never appreciated, that my faith is between me and God.  I’m not answerable to the church or to a priest, just God. Once I took that onboard going to Mass seemed easy and finally felt right!

So that’s exactly what I did.  Just a couple of days after speaking with Sr M I plucked up all my courage and went to an early morning, weekday Mass.  It was perfect.  No more Mr Nagging Doubt, just me and God.  That was about six weeks ago and I’ve been going regularly ever since.  I’ve also managed a few Sundays when family commitments allow and I go to the weekday Mass as often as possible, which can be up to three times a week and I’ve not really looked back.

Back to the original question of why I go to Mass at all, especially as finding or ‘hearing’ God there is rare, the answer is multi-layered.  Superficially I go to Mass because the Catholic faith expects that of me and it’s kind of what I signed up for, but we already know that’s a flawed and potentially flaky reason at one level and there has to be more driving you than obligation.  There is also the joy of worshipping alongside like-minded folk.  Sharing your faith through group worship is lovely.  We, the people, ARE the church, without the faithful there can be no church.  The church is not just a building or a priest.  As the bible states in Romans 12:5 “We are one body in Christ”.  

I love the physical and spiritual beauty of the Catholic Mass, the rise and fall of the faithful, the bells and smells, the joyful message of the Psalms especially, and the comforting repetition as the liturgical year rolls round reliably and predictably.  I am a girl of routine so, for me anyway, this is all a plus.  Also, given the choice between a swanky new auditorium or an older atmospheric church with stained glass windows etc., I’m going to choose the latter every single time.  It just does it for me.

On a deeper level it’s probably unfair to say that I rarely, if ever, find God in the Mass.  It’s truer to say that I don’t ‘hear’ Him so clearly there, it’s busy with all that standing, sitting and kneeling lol.  However, I often get echoes of previous encounters through the Gospel or the Psalms.  I hear a familiar piece of scripture and I’m instantly transported back to a time when God placed that scripture on my heart during a time of struggle or in response to prayer.  For example, I cannot hear the start of Psalm 138 [Hebr. Ps 139] “O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising,” without breaking into a smile, because that was the Psalm I studied at St Beuno’s [more of that next time as promised] and that message comes back to me afresh each time.  The Homily [Sermon] occasionally gives up gems that feel like they’re meant just for me.  Not so much during weekday Mass as the whole service is shorter and devoid of music or hymns, but Sundays are longer and more time made available for the Priest to share his thoughts on the scripture of the day or a relevant issue.  You can be in Mass and just feel wrapped in a warm presence of love and comfort…surely that must come from God?

Going to Mass is also an act of fidelity, an act of faith.  It’s part of your relationship with a God you love and who loves you, a bit like a marriage.  I never show up and find that God is late or AWOL, He is always there waiting for me.  It’s a two-way thing.  I think people sometimes assume that we do all the work and get nothing back, nothing in return but I have never found it to be that way.  The more time I spend with God the more He does in me and through me.  We’ve come a really long way, God and I.  He has transformed me into someone I actually quite like. 

Sunday Mass is officially the start of the week for catholics, a place to renew and refuel for the week ahead and hopefully you take God with you when you leave.  Faith is not just for one hour on a Sunday morning, it’s really the other six days and twenty-three hours that are the most important otherwise what’s the point?

Finally there is receiving the Eucharist.  The thing that gave me the most angst and heartache in the beginning and for so many years.  Well, what can I say.  It’s a simple process with the most complex meaning.  It comes from The Last Supper and we get to share that meal with Christ every time we go to Mass.  It calms, renews and sustains me.  It’s probably the thing I missed the most in other denominations.  It’s the thing that draws me back because I can’t find that anywhere else.  It’s the culmination of Mass, we show up and so does Christ.  Perfect!

To wrap this up if you’re looking for a place to worship and you’ve no idea where to start then start with prayer and an open heart.  Think about practicalities too, can you get there easily, do the worship times suit your availability?  Don’t set yourself up to fail by choosing a church that you have to drive forty miles to or take three buses ‘cos chances are you’ll always find a reason not to go.  If you’re surrounded by a young family then look for somewhere that caters and welcomes little ones.  Is there a crèche facility and a sunday school?  Is there a ‘Messy Church’ being run near you?  If you go a couple of times and think it’s not a good fit then try somewhere else.  However, remember above everything else, it’s just between you and God and He loves you!  He isn’t really at church at all, He’s there in your heart, always!

 

Sharon xx

 

 

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Hi lovelies xx

A really quick Sunday night post just to share a custom order for some button flowers that I made yesterday.  There are two sets of flowers, one in multi pastel shades and the other in plain pastels.  The plain ones are going off to their new home tomorrow.  These have become very popular for embellishing things, and I’ve used them to decorate my little crocheted bags.  As you can see I haven’t sewn in the ends yet but by the time they leave they’ll be all tidied up. [Click on any photo’ to see it enlarged.]

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all you ladies out there who Mother someone, whether that be biologically or just through the love of someone you care for in a maternal way. May you all be blessed.

Today is also Laetare Sunday in the catholic faith.  This falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent and it is a day of rejoicing [Laetare meaning, to rejoice] and the Priests and Deacons wear rose coloured vestments.  It’s a day when we can relax a little from our Lenten rigours [such as they are 😉 ].  

Take care,

Sharon xx

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The Mass

incense-and-icon

The weight of the door, the solid swish as it shuts.

The faint residual smell of incense and historically extinguished candles.

Flickering candles, the Paschal ~  beautifully adorned and lofty, sporting its flame of Hope.

Neat rows of hymn books, piles of slightly dog-eared mass sheets and crispy-fresh weekly newsletters, free to a good home.

Soft greetings, muted voices, genuflecting and bowing indicating the direction of the tabernacle.

Seats chosen and filled. 

Silent anticipation, preparation, adoration.

“Ting” heralds the start.

The unified rising of the faithful.

Procession of robes filled with men that for just a moment are not just James and Klaus but Priest or Father and Deacon.

Familiar words delivered by a familiar voice.

The faithful rise and fall like a vertical Mexican wave.

Voices join as one ~ in song ~ in response.

Bells ring to indicate that special transubstantiated moment, rich smoke mists the room and replenishes the smell for the next people through the door.

Invitation.

The whole room moves with fluid, well practised ease towards the altar.

Momentary hesitation, meet the Priest’s gaze, receive, gives thanks, move on.

Kneeling, reflecting, worshipping.

Replenished, renewed.

Dismissal.

Thanks be to God.

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