I have been to Mass three times today. The first one was a standard* weekday Mass at 8.10am. It lasted about 25-30 minutes in the school chapel, one reader, one altar server, no homily.
The second one was a funeral Mass, three hours later. The lady who the Mass was for was Tamil. Two priests who were friends of the family were there, one presided the other preached.
Apart from the first reading and the bidding prayers the whole Mass was in Tamil, even the hymns. Understanding this I chose not to deacon, and I think the priests were happier with that. Mass was in the ordinary form, so I knew where I was and what was going on at any given time.
The third Mass was a Missa Cantata for the Epiphany at 7pm this evening. There were in fact only two singers, but my word they did a good job. Three Masses, three styles, two forms. Did I feel any of the masses gave me more than the other? The answer is no.
I was grateful that I had been able to be at the funeral Mass to offer support to the family, getting back in the car afterwards, I reflected on this. The fact the Mass was said in a language I have absolutely no knowledge of did not detract from it in any way, rather like going to Mass when you are on holiday and you’ve taken the opportunity to know what readings will be used. It was still Mass.
Walking home this evening (yes, I walked from home to an EF Mass, read it and weep bubbas) it struck me how lucky I was that this was the case. I know of people who hate specific types of Mass and would avoid them like the plague, perhaps being a little unkind about those who do not share their sensitivities, but for me, I was happy with each style.
This does not mean you can throw any old rubbish at me in a liturgy, I don’t want dancing, I don’t want things being acted out, I don’t want extended congregational participation in the homily. But some do, I have to accept that, I am ordained to serve everyone, not just the ones who like the same things as me.
The main thing that has been driven home to me today is summed up in the words of a priest in the early 70s who I recall counselling people upset by the Vatican II changes, “The Mass is the Mass is the Mass”.
*No doubt I’ll be told off for calling any Mass standard, forgive my lack of eloquence.