Sunday Worship: The Heart of the Matter

From time to time I find myself slipping into ex-M.C. mode when I attend Mass or some other liturgical celebration. Without meaning to, I register confusion or fussiness in the sanctuary or even plain disregard of the rubrics or canon law. I wince inwardly when the lessons are read poorly or the music badly performed; and I have been known to come close to nodding off/counting the heresies during one or two homilies. Quietnun similarly goes into ex-sacristan mode when confronted with ill-chosen vestments or altar linen that hasn’t been washed or pressed properly. If anyone knew, we’d be the bane of their lives; but fortunately, they don’t (you do, but that’s another matter. Please don’t reveal our shameful secret).

This morning’s Sunday Mass was much like any other. There was nothing very much for the critic in us to praise or condemn, but imagine how humbling it was to come home and read this prayer request (I’ve changed one or two details but the gist remains the same):

Dear God,
Please look after my brother, Tom. I’m worried about him as nothing ever seems to go right for him. I know you can take care of him like you’ve taken care of me all my life. Thank you, God. I love you, Chris

There you have it: love of God, trust and concern for others. What could be more perfect? Isn’t that what our Sunday worship should express? It is surely the most perfect praise any of us can give. Next time you are tempted, like me, to groan about the way the liturgy is conducted, or the shortcomings, as you see them, of those presiding or fulfilling various functions, why not remember Chris and simply tell God you love Him? That, after all, is the heart of the matter, but how often we forget!

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5 thoughts on “Sunday Worship: The Heart of the Matter”

  1. A wise vicar of ours used to say that there are never errors or mistakes in church services (especially the Sunday 10am or major feast day Eucharists), only variations on a theme of praising God.
    I appreciated this view even more so during my years as churchwarden. This morning’s stand-in organist did a few variations of her own, but they didn’t detract from the service!

  2. I made a bloopah at Mass this morning. I had taken a lovely lady of 102 to the 8 am service, Something she has done all of her life, but now age and poor mobility has caught up to her and she is reliant on a wheel chair to get around. So, I been taking her regularly. Which takes some organizing.

    At the end of the 8 am Mass, the Priest gave the blessing, but, being so tied up in knots, anxious about making sure that she got safely home, watched the priest process to the main door to say good bye as people left and I asked him – ‘Where was the blessing” as soon as I opened my mouth I realised my mistake, as everyone collapsed in heaps of laughter, particularly my lady, who said that it’s “good to know that I’m not the only one suffering a loss of attention span” she was being polite of course.

    Sure it was funny, but the serious side is that I had momentarily taken my focus and eyes away from Jesus and the Sacraments we’d just received and allowed worldly concerns to distract me from the Blessing, which for me is the opportunity to go out in peace to love and to serve the Lord.

    I’m sure that you will say that it could happen to best of us, but I wondered for a few minutes whether or not I was losing it. But I was back on form when leading the Prayers of the People during the 10 am Mass, and am thankful for that.

    I would say that our Sacristan in rigorous in ensuring that the altar linen, vestments and Sacred articles are in the best of condition. She has been doing so for over 50 years, and has spent some time (and patience) in training me to stand in for her. I’m not sure that my ironing skills are up to hers, but thankfully we have four or five others who also help out, and we’re training a young, 18 year old, to be the future Sacristan. Succession planning, skipping two generations. 🙂

  3. I always go early to service so that I can speak to God alone. I light three candles for the Trinity and two more. One for my late wife and another for all the dear souls lost to me. I ask Him for forgiveness and to protect all those dear to me. I know that this is probably very selfish on my part, but I ask for His help, peace and love for the unknown but downtrodden of the world during intercession. Perhaps I should do this during my candle prayers. But He knows that I care.

  4. thank you for this thoughtful posting. when we were in training, we took part in different examples of the Holy Communion as it changed down the ages, from earliest sharing of bread and wine, to the ‘mumbo-jumbo’ [the Latin Mass which could not be heard by lay people, except for that one phrase which they recounted as ‘mumbo-jumbo’] and through Cranmer’s innovations [a central altar, included!]
    As a result, I find that the whole Sacrament is beyond words beautiful; and would not look at the Service book, but see with full attention every step of the consecration.

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