Sunday, February 11, 2007

What's happening at the pews???

These past few Sundays I have been going for mass at the various parishes I was posted for my pastoral before. Since I was not on pastoral so I decided to attend mass dressed a ‘civilian’ (not with my clerical shirt or any identification that I am a seminarian). It was a good experience and I think all priest and church leaders especially youth leaders should do it to see what is happening among the parishioners especially the youths while mass is going on. They can also understand what the parishioners are going through while they sit at the altar.

The first parish I went, I had an encounter with a girl who was chatting with her boyfriend throughout the mass. I hinted by giving her signs that she was loud, she still kept on talking. Then I turn to her and said “Excuse me” but she could ask me back ‘What?” and louder she continued chatting. For your info, the readings were being read at that time. So instead of LISTENING to God’s Word she was SPEAKING. And I too couldn’t LISTEN to the Word of God because of obvious reason!! So I turn back to her and gave her and her boyfriend a big stare…but no… she didn’t stop!! During the offering of the sign of peace, the both of them didn’t want to return the sign of peace to me. After the mass I was told by my fellow seminarian who was sitting next to me that the guy was making funny signs at the back of my head. I think the boyfriend was not a catholic because I heard him asking during the announcements what the station of the cross is and moreover he didn’t receive the Holy Communion. What a bad role model!! The girl bringing a non-catholic and has shown him that’s its okay to talk during the celebration and be rude to people and they can treat the church like going to the cinema (hey even in cinema we get annoyed when people talk during the show). I wanted to speak to them after mass but they left before the recessional hymn could end.

Today at mass in a different church, I sat at the loft with my cousin. (Loft is the famous place for the youths to sit during mass, especially the back). I saw a youth sitting with his friends. I have seen him in a parish ministry distributing rations for the poor before. He was chewing gum. Yes, throughout the mass!! During communion, I saw him standing and lining in the queue to receive Holy Communion and he was still chewing gum. After receiving the Lord in his hands, he put the sacred host in his mouth while chewing gum. Now, I am sure some of the particles of the Holy Communion will be stuck in the gum. Do you think he will swallow the gum or throw it out? I had no opportunity to stop or correct him, we were sitting far apart but I could see him clearly. I thought when the mass end I will go to him and speak privately. But unfortunately, just like the previous youth, he also left before the mass could end. He left during the thanksgiving hymn. I hope to meet this guy when I go for mass there in two weeks time.

Now where is the reverence for the Holy and the Sacred? How do our people relate to God? What is in the mind of our people when they come for mass? Do they know what they are celebrating? Do you?