With the arrival of snow comes the end of another wondrous fall here in God's country, Minnesota. We hardy folks in the northland have gathered the crops, filled the freezers with wild game, and have begun to sharpen our ice augers. Across the land of 10,000 lakes the ice continues to thicken while I write my first post in a very long time. Despite my absence in posting, I have still read every post and look forward to reading them on a daily basis.
This blog has seen a good deal of discussion and opinion regarding the Mass and the way it is celebrated here in Minnesota. My parish consists of conservatives, charismatics, a few liberals, and everything else in between. I have lived by my parish for 13 years and been immersed in many facets of the parish. I have heard some fascinating comments. Too much incense! Why the Latin? Do we need drums? What’s with the bowing! Stop clapping!!!! How dare he talk about contraception!!! The church is too fancy!! The church is too plain!!! I could go on and on and I bet many reading this blog can relate.
I am personally guilty of timing our ultra long Gloria at the 6:00 P.M Mass. We musically repeat the simple prayer about 20 times accompanied with drums and electrical guitars and bass. The music and the prayer finally conclude after five minutes have passed. Petty of me? I don't know what to think about it but realize I am really no different than all the rest who complain about a part of the Mass.
This past Saturday morning I found myself sitting in a tree with my smokepole (musket). You see in Minnesota I get to hunt deer with my bow, then a shotgun, then a rifle, and finally with a single shot, pack the gunpowder down the barrel and hope things don’t get wet muzzleloader.
As I waited for bambi or even better his mother or father, I thought about the Mass here at home and all the comments I have been hearing. I will be never confused as a liturgist. My knowledge of the Norms for Mass are minimal at best. As I was thinking and trying to make sense of the matter, my thoughts suddenly shifted to one of the greatest Mass stories of all time. Grab a cup of coffee, a beer, or if you are Servium a pink can of Tab, and take the time to read this simple but true story.
It was two years ago and the surviving deer of Minnesota River Bottoms had almost made it through yet another Fall. My three oldest children and two great friends had just finished a successful and enjoyable muzzleloader hunt. We had shot a nice buck and were driving back to civilization to eventually return home. A cell phone rang and we’ll call the owner Paul. His wife was calling and had just found out that her cousin was in the area and hoped to stop by to see their new home. We had planned to attend the 6:00 p.m. Mass by our home but that was exact time the cousins planned to arrive.
MassTimes.com showed that in the great town of Willmar a 12:00 o’clock Mass awaited Paul leaving him very little time to pack. We all helped him stuff everything into his car and off he went. Paul did not have any church clothes packed and so was unable to change out of his thick white and red wool flannel shirt and pants. He looked like... well…. Paul Bunyan. Arriving at the stroke of noon he raced up the stairs and burst into the back of the church hoping to slide in behind the procession.
Paul quickly learned that the date was December 10th , the Feast Day of Guadalupe. When his eyes adjusted to the color filled church he quickly noticed that he was at least eight inches taller than anyone in the entire church. At six foot four and full of muscle (no, the Men at Work song about that guy who liked vegemite sandwiches was not about this particular guy) , Paul has always been an intimating sight. Much to his surprise his white skin, dark hair, dark stubble, and wooly garments did not faze the parishioners of this beautiful church. You see Wilmar has a very large migrant worker population and Paul had joined them for an all Spanish Mass celebrating the Miracle of Guadalupe.
Paul quickly tried to sit down but the parishioners welcomed him and ushered him to be a part of the procession. I am sure this marked the first time that a man who looked and smelled like Paul Bunyan had ever joined the faithful Spanish speaking population of Willmar, Minnesota. They quickly ushered him to the front of the procession and the music began. Paul processed in with the priest and the faithful. He was encouraged to join in the dancing as they celebrated joyously their love for the Blessed Mother. Paul has never been a very good dancer and let us be thankful that this occurred before the emergence of Utube.
Mr. Bunyan was given the front row and welcomed as a brother in Christ. After a two hour Mass in Spanish, Paul was able to receive the same Body and Blood of Christ with the many millions all over the world. After the initial shock wore off, Paul was able to really appreciate and enjoy the different culture and their celebration of the sacred day. The Mass was different but Paul walked away with an appreciation for the fact that we are “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”. What a wondrous gift to be Catholic and know our faith spans the globe to every culture.
You might be wondering how this story relates with our personal critiques and grumblings of the Mass. The American culture is changing. Let’s face it, the American middle class Caucasian family is a majority of the past. We are barely replacing ourselves while other cultures and nationalities continue to lap us with children and immigration. Our catholic churches will be forced to adapt and meet a wide variety of needs. If changes in worship get our undies in a bunch, what will be left to get in a bunch when things really change.
In conclusion, I plan to be more like Mr. Bunyan and focus on the Eucharist and look for the fruit in different kinds of worship. We are “One Holy Apostolic Church” and let’s face it, our country needs some spiritual revival. I plan to get out and try to win more souls and spend less time complaining or policing others. Have a blessed Christmas!!!