The past few months I’ve had the opportunity to attend mass at different parishes. It doesn’t matter where I attend mass, I find God present. He welcomes me home with the familiar gift of the Eucharist. Often I become absorb in my thoughts and desire to be consumed by Jesus.
There are times however, that I am easily distracted. One of those times was recently. I sat several pews behind a family; a father, teenage daughter and mother. The entire mass, even during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the father and daughter laughed, made fun of choir members and the priest. This made me both angry and terribly sad. Based on their behavior it appeared they didn’t believe God was present with us. It was like he was some distant being that they must please through the obligation of attending mass
The next weekend I attended mass at another church. As I listened to the homily a grown daughter and her mother came in. They noisily scrunched pass people in the pews and found themselves near me. I smiled and continued to focus on God’s word. They continued to chatter so loud that no one nearby could hear or concentrate on what was being said. This continued throughout the remainder of the mass. As I sat there, my mind no longer able to focus on the Word, I observed people getting up, talking, coming in and out without regard to what was going on.
As I thought about both my recent experiences at different parishes it made me wonder what happened to the reverence of mass. I will be the first to acknowledge there are times my mind is a million miles away. However, I don’t believe I take away from someone else’s time with God. Perhaps others share this thought as well. These experiences have helped me re-evaluate mass.
Attending mass allows us to give one hour of our week to God and to let go of all else for that one hour. That’s hard to do. How can we come into God’s house and give him our undivided attention? As I pondered this question a thought came to mind. I thought of visiting a friend. I thought of how I would feel if I visited a friend and they ignored me the entire visit. What if my friend not only ignored me, they talked over me, talked to others and just got up and left while I was mid sentence? How would I feel? I would feel sad and wonder why I was visiting, unless there was something urgent going on. I can’t help but believe that God must feel the same. It probably saddens him to see so many people come to mass and so few truly give him that one hour. Unfortunately, no one escapes from being that person at one time or another.
I think the next time I go to church and find myself distracted I will think of God, of his sacrifices for me. I will no longer be concerned with what those around me are doing. After all, this hour belongs to God and God alone.
Copyright 2010 Lorrie Lane Dyer
About the Author
Lorrie Lane Dyer is a facilitator for the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation with the University of Dayton as well as religious education and parish coordinator. She is working on her Masters of Leadership Development, with a focus in Military Chapel programs at St. Mary of the Woods College. Her faith provides her with inspiration for many of her poetry collections, columns and short stories.