Tag Archives: mass

Unnerving

faith

This morning I went to 8 am mass.  We joke that this is the “old people mass” because many of the people there are elderly.  I went alone, kids were still sleeping and Dave was playing soccer.  I sat in front of a man around my dad’s age, I have known him since I was a kid.  We acknowledged one other with a polite hello and mass began as normal.

During the second reading, as we were sitting down I noticed a man enter the church and walk down the center aisle to a pew where two young girls, (college aged it seemed,) where sitting.  They seemed to recognize him as he joined them.  I took notice of him because he walked in so late for mass.  I shouldn’t judge, but it always bothers me when someone arrives late for mass and then walks down the center aisle instead of just sitting in the back where it doesn’t make a scene.

As Father Mitch began his homily, this man stood up, walked down the center aisle with both arms in the air as if he were praying to God and walked straight up to the altar, up the stairs and turned around to face the congregation.  He stood there for about a minute like that while everyone at the mass looked at each other uncomfortably wondering what was going on.  Politely, Father Mitch asked him to return to his seat and the man responded, with his arms still raised in the air “I do not like buildings” (or something to that affect…I may have his words mixed up.)  He said it slowly and meaningfully.  At this point, probably less than two minutes had passed, and the ushers seemed to be getting ready to head down the aisle to remove him but it was just so out of the ordinary, I don’t think anyone knew quite what to do or what was going on.  We were all looking at each other as if expecting someone to do something.  Finally, he stepped down off of the altar and walked slowly back to his pew.  He barely sat for a moment when he got back up and walked back out the same way he had sauntered in but this time with his hands high in the air.

Father Mitch made light of it, causing nervous laughter in the crowd but it was very unsettling.  Especially when I noticed the two girls who he was sitting with walk to the front of the church down a side aisle and began whispering to each other for a few minutes.  I am not sure how many people noticed that, but I know the people around me did because we were more focused on them then on the sermon.  Then, the two of them quickly headed down that aisle and out the doors of the church.  Seconds later, a young man dressed all in black with his head down headed down the opposite aisle next to the section I was sitting in and also left.

My hands were shaking.  I wasn’t sure if I were cold or nervous or both but I couldn’t get them to stop.  All I could think about was how often I have practiced code red/yellow drills in school.  I actually felt confident that I’d know what to do, but what would all of these elderly people do if something really was wrong.  I could run, evacuate if I had to, but would they be able?  When I go home, I told Dave and the boys that I seriously sat there contemplating how we’d get out if the doorways were blocked.  Would we be able to break through those beautiful stained glass windows?  Could these elderly women climb up to get to them?  Would I help them get coverage under the pews?  My boys and Dave asked me why I wouldn’t just run if it got to that point.  How could I ever leave all of those people?  It is like my class.  I wouldn’t run and leave them behind.

Fortunately, whatever it was that caused this “blip” on my radar, turned out to be nothing.  Everyone was fine.  Nothing happened.  Everyone was safe.  It rattled me a bit though.  It just makes me so sad that we have to even think this way.  That the thought even crossed my mind.  I am NOT an alarmist.  Things like this never bothered me before but there is just so much craziness out there these days, you just never know.  There were many people at the mass.  Was I the only one thinking this way?  Have I been conditioned to think this way?  I hope not.

Tithing

giving

Today, I had a busy, emotional, stressful day. It must have shown because Dave joined me for 5:30 mass!  To get Dave to go to church, something pretty major needs to be happening!  His biggest reason for not wanting to go to mass is because of the money hungry, hypocritical, mumbo jumbo that goes on at church.  I get it. I see it too, but usually I am able to get past it.

My good friend Maureen was sitting a few rows back.  She has known Dave longer than I have and I am sure she was wondering just what brought Dave to mass today.  At the very end of mass, we were all asked to sit down for a few moments.  Two speakers came up to talk about how important it was for us to increase our tithing this year.  I could feel Maureen’s smile coming from behind me and I turned to look at her and of course she started to laugh silently.  Dave comes to one mass in months, and the one where they are begging for more money is the one?!?!

One of the “stresses” I am dealing with right now is a reduction in my salary due to some things going on with the negotiations in our contract.  This is not only me.  It is all of the teachers in our district.  It has been a difficult time financially, especially after the summer.  We are on a ten month contract in our district so we don’t get paid in the summer, so expecting a raise in our paychecks in September and then not getting it, was a major disappointment.  Not only that, more is being taken out for benefits and pensions so our salaries are even less than they were in June.

Getting asked to give more at church after all of this was ironic, the icing on the cake after a really miserable day.  After mass, the three of us just laughed about it. It is all we could do. She’s a teacher in the district as well so we are all dealing with the same thing.

I understand how important charity and giving is.  It is something near and dear to my heart.  I also know that it doesn’t always have to be monetary.  I give what I can each week when I go to mass but there are so many ways to give other than in dollars.  That is how I do my tithing.

Condolences

condolences

Last night, my dad and I sat and went through all of the mass cards, sympathy cards and flower cards that people have sent over the last week.  Tonight, I tried to organize all of them for him on a spread sheet so that he and my siblings and I can divide up the thank you notes so it is not too overwhelming for anyone.  Thanks to all of these people,  my mom is going to have prayers and masses said for her all over the country.  I know that this would make her so happy.  She had to stop going to church awhile ago because she just wasn’t able to get through the whole mass with all of her breathing difficulties.  I know that was hard for her – not just her breathing, but emotionally as well.  I know she enjoyed mass.  She always sang louder than anyone there, so for her funeral we chose all of her favorite songs.

I have had so many people come up to me over the last week to offer their condolences.  A lot of them knew my mom.   Some did not, but after reading about her and all of the great things she has done for the community, many of them realized that they actually knew who she was.  Whether they knew her as “The Duck Lady” or” the lady on the bench who talked to everyone,” she was a presence around town.

Her death has made a lot of people sad and although we may not understand why sad things happen, I know that what is helping me, is knowing how much others cared about her.  Her kindness towards others was evident and as more and more people tell me how special she was to them, the more uplifted I become.