As a long distance truck driver, I find myself attending Mass at different parishes in different states. I have seen it all, from churches that have had the kneelers re-installed with high parishioner participation, to ones where the faithful are barely heard.
Yesterday was one of the worst ones I have been in for a long time. Hardly anyone recited the Nicene creed or sang along with the hymns. At the parting hymn, fully three quarters of those in attendance got up to leave before the first stanza was even finished!
This kind of thing is quite disturbing to me and I don’t understand it. Here we have the joy of having Jesus Christ right in our midst and the only thing many seem to want to do is just to leave as soon as possible. This is a sad commentary on some of our Catholic brothers and sisters is all I can say.
This seems to vary from diocese to diocese. Some are very liturgically conservative, with more “free-wheeling” parishes being the exception rather than the rule. Some are the other way around.
I do not travel that much anymore, but back in the 1970s, attending Mass in a strange parish or diocese was a “Forrest Gump” experience — “you never know what you’re gonna get”. The worst excesses have been reined in and you seldom see them anymore. The advocates of change got what they wanted — communion in the hand, communion under both kinds, lay eucharistic ministers, an effusive sign of peace, and most of all, people receiving communion who in times past would not have received for various reasons — and maybe they’re happy with that. I don’t know. And the 1970s are not commonly thought of as a time when people were inclined to stick with the tried and true, and to resist innovation. Quite the opposite. Much of the culture of that time did not age well. Just think disco, leisure suits, and burnt orange and avocado furniture and appliances. Res ipsa loquitur.
You could always seek out the traditional Latin Mass (what they now call the “Extraordinary Form”) when you’re on the road. These tend to be smaller, closer-knit communities, and the children there — TLM adherents, many of them anyway, have larger families than you commonly see these days — would surely “get a kick out of” seeing a tractor-trailer parked outside the church with a truck driver assisting at Holy Mass. You won’t run into unpleasant surprises at the TLM — just quiet, reverent worship. And people stick around after Mass to pray as well as to socialize with like-minded faithful. Nobody leaves early. It’s just not done.
Its quite common in Sunday Mass at my Of Parish Mass, the Creed is announced and stated where it is found in the Mass book. People then read it out from the book. People choose to leave before the recessional hymn is done. The lack of response or doubt over response is the same with other responses also.
Everyone is at Mass, worshipping God together, that is something to be thankful about
When you see this, it’s highly likely there is a reason why, such as a traffic pattern getting out of the parking lot or onto a nearby main road, or the timing of the Mass being up against something else like closing hours for the local mall or start time for the local sporting event.
As someone who also attends different parishes in different states, it’s best to not make assumptions about the piety of a particular parish if you don’t go there regularly.
Personally, I find I grow massively when I obey a command of God even when I don’t ‘feel’ it. Perhaps especially when I don’t ‘feel’ it. Attending Sunday Mass when I’m not feeling it is part of what keeps me whole and makes me who I am, I think. I don’t see what the benefit would be of ever intentionally sinning (choosing to not meet the Sunday obligation). I can be honest with God while still trusting Him that His instructions are best for me to follow even when I honestly don’t ‘feel’ it.
I’ve found the priest’s attitude during the mass sometimes plays into this. I know of one parish who’s pastor you thought had a tee time at the local country club right after mass and just rushes through this. He also doesn’t sing, so possibly that is why his congregation doesn’t as well.
I also know there are those who would never attend the mass if it were not for the fast mass, drive through mass, McMass, or whatever you wish to call it. They are fulfilling their weekly obligation, but the question I always come back to is at what cost?
I would note that weekday Masses at most parishes I visit only take a half hour, including the homily (which runs about 5 to 8 minutes), and they are just as holy and just as much Mass as the “big production” on Sunday. It sometimes makes me wonder whether it is really necessary for such a long Sunday Mass, although I know some of the longer Sunday Mass time is due to the lines for Communion being much longer and taking more time, and also the inclusion of the Gloria and perhaps using the longer versions of some prayers.
If we are just talking about vocal and musical participation, that really doesn’t mean that the people are not internally participating at Mass.
From what I’ve been told, if the parish is historically Irish, this might have a big reason why they are might be quiet.
Many Irish parishes before Vatican II had a tendency to be Low Mass only parishes because they didn’t have a choir/schola.
At Low Masses, even in the 1960s, the people in the pew would be silent the entire mass. At High Masses (esp in the 1960s), it wasn’t uncommon for the laity to sing the Gloria, Creed, & Sanctus - plus the laity would help sing the “Asperges Me” (the optional sprinkling of holy water on the people at mass).
My point is, one should not judge someone’s love of Jesus based on singing alone. Some people and some parishes were simply culturally biased against singing.
NOW - if it was other things instead of vocal participation, then there might be a discussion.
I pray this helps.
were parts where the laity would sing with the Servers and Choir/Schola
I can see being bothered if large numbers of people are running out before the priest and others serving have processed out of the church. It’s generally considered polite to stay until the priest leaves, and in some churches the priest and procession have to use the aisles that others would be using to leave so if you get up to leave before they have passed, you run the risk of a collision or being in the way.
After the priest leaves is generally when you see many others start to leave. Depending on how many verses the musicians decided to play, the recessional hymn may still be going on, or not.
As our Pastor has said, Please don’t knock me down on your way out. Otherwise, Mass has ended and you are free to leave.
Sometimes our choir will sing 4 or 5 verses. And the priest might leave after the first one. Do people really believe that everyone should stay until the last bit of the song? Heck, our priest would wonder what was going on.
I know - I think going longer than 2 verses on the recessional is always a bad idea. If the organist wishes to play a post-recessional instrumental for anyone who wants to stay and listen to nice music - and there are always a few of us who do like that, me included - that’s fine, but the hymn-singing should end by Verse 2. Many times the priest and procession will pause outside the sanctuary, sing the first verse there facing the altar, then leave the church on the second verse.
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