Monday, November 28, 2011

A Beautiful Mass

Mass yesterday was beautiful.  I’m not sure if it was due to the beginning of Advent or to the new translation of the Roman Missal, although I suspect it was a little of both. 

My husband and I arrived at Sacred Heart Cathedral fifteen minutes early like we always do and it was already so crowded that we took some of the last available seats.  Even though it is the cathedral for the Diocese of Raleigh, Sacred Heart is very small, seating perhaps 250 people and there are usually people standing in the back; however, the pews aren’t usually filled until just before Mass begins and there were considerably more people standing yesterday, filling not just the entrance, but overflowing along the side walls of the cathedral. It was amazing to have the cathedral filled to the brim. 

I’m not sure why so many were there.  Perhaps those that have been away from the Church or who only attend sporadically were inspired by the beginning of the liturgical year and the Advent season to attend more regularly.  My husband thought that the extensive media coverage on the introduction of the revised Missal may have piqued the curiosity of many lapsed Catholics who decided to check out the changes for themselves.  Either way, I will be spending much time this week praying that they will be returning next Sunday.  Looking around at all the people reminded me of the message that was in every Catholic newspaper in our old diocese: “When you’re not at Mass, we miss you.”  So true, their absence will be felt and the cathedral will seem empty if they aren’t there next week.

The introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal went very well at our parish.  In fact, since everyone was following along with the new responses as written in the bulletin, there was even more participation than during an ordinary Mass.  The responses were louder and more clear than usual - perhaps because many Catholics usually mumble the responses because they aren’t sure of the real words, a problem that is solved when they can read along.  Of course, there were several times when the old words could be heard mixed in with the new (especially “And also with you”), but everyone seemed so good natured about it, lightly chuckling and trying harder the next time. 

New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal and HymnalThe new Missal struck me personally as very powerful and beautiful.  My husband and I went to a Catholic store Saturday in search of an engagement present for my brother-in-law and his fiancée and while there picked up a Sunday Missal for the new liturgical year.  We did so for the readings (we previously printed them out each Sunday to bring with us to Mass), but an unintended advantage was that we had the entire Order of the Mass at our  disposal (including the ten Eucharistic Prayer options).  I was able to follow along not only with the responses of the congregation, but also the parts of the priest which have changed considerably as well.  If you are feeling like you’ll have a hard time learning the new responses, imagine how difficult it is for our priests!  Since I was able to read along closely throughout the entire Mass, I could fully absorb the beauty of the new words, especially new Eucharistic prayer.  I encourage everyone to go out and buy their own Sunday Missal so you can follow along.  I also find it helpful to read and contemplate the readings before Mass and to follow along with them during Mass (especially since sometimes I can’t hear the lectors well).  You can buy the New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal and Hymnal online for $4.95. 

Another reason Mass was so lovely was that the Bishop was presiding.  We’ve been attending Mass at the cathedral since our second week here in Raleigh and this is the first time we have seen the Bishop.  I feel blessed to live in the city at the seat of the diocese, as we also did when we lived in Indiana.  It is incredibly moving to have the privilege of attending a Mass said by your shepherd, the Bishop, something that many Catholics throughout the world never have the opportunity to do. 

The Bishop gave a beautiful homily linking the introduction of the new Missal to the beginning of Advent using the concept of change.  Personally, I feel the new Missal has enhanced my preparation for Advent.  In the past, Advent seemed to sneak up on me, leaving me without an opportunity to prepare.  Yet this year, because of all the preparations for the new Missal, I have been keenly aware of when Advent would begin and have been able to make due preparations. 

How was your first Sunday of Advent?  How was your first experience with the new Missal? 


  1. I would always read along with the Eucharistic Prayer (it helped me keep focus) and I noticed a lot more people were doing that this past weekend. Hopefully actively paying attention to those words will help increase reverence for the Eucharist. I love the new emphasis on the soul, spirit, and individual person. I've had a number of friends leave the Church because they say it doesn't emphasize 'a personal relationship with Jesus Christ' and I'm praying the new translation will help lead them back home.

    Overall, I really liked it. There were a few stinkers who didn't even attempt to read the new responses but other than that I haven't even heard of too many negatives. I hope that continues.

  2. Our mass was okay. Not very many people around us tried to follow along with the new missal--and our parish even had a whole liturgy guide printed up specifically to show all the changes in the people's responses (did not include priestly changes). The problem was probably where we were sitting and what time we went to mass (noon--due to a weird nap for G, and on the left side, by the quiet room--incase she got loud).
    I want to get a new missal -- I love following along with the Eucharistic Prayers. It helps me really focus on the important parts, during what is probably the easiest time to drift into a day dream.
    Our homily was also really nice, it made connections between the new missal / new creed and being ready for the Second Coming / our end of days.

    Again, great post Mandi!

  3. That is too funny I go to the cathedral where I live too! The giftshop at the shrine down the street from the cathedral was selling the St. Joseph Missals for $3 so my mom picked me up one while she was there. At our cathedral they don't have missellettes (just hymnals) so I wanted to buy a missal to read along with the readings and new mass parts.

    @Katie I'm like you I like to read along with the Eucharistic Prayer bc it helps me focus better in mass (although I always have a hard time figuring out which one the priest is using)

    I think overtime we'll all get a hang of the new missal :)

  4. All the Churches I went to growing up in CA and CO had missals with the full written readings, but none of them that we've attended in IN or NC have had them - it must be a regional thing? I'm so used to having them for the readings, they help me concentrate and are really helpful when sometimes you can't understand the lector/deacon/priest well, I just can't function without being able to follow along with the readings.

    I really didn't notice anyone that wasn't following along or hearing any grumbling, but I we went to a different parish the previous weekend and they used the new Missal a week early. It was somewhat of a disaster, but I'm not sure how that parish prepared for it and I think a lot of people walked in late and didn't realize we were doing it a week early at first.

  5. Haha, we go to the same church to top it all off ;). I think it was so full because people wanted to see the Bishop preside and introduce the missal, but that's just a guess. I loved it because we got to see Fr. Sal too, who we rarely get to see anymore now that we've switched mass times (we go to the 9am since RCIA is right after that).

    I was one of the ones continually saying "And also with your spirit" even though I would be looking right at the paper. Apparently my brain has merged the old and the new!

  6. I am so jealous you got to hear Bishop Burbidge. I go to Sacred Heart Catholic Church. We are under the Diocese of Raleigh as well. :-)

  7. Well at our parish we've been using the new new Gloria, Holy, and Mem Acclamation since September/October. They added a new one every few weeks. I think it's kind of funny that the new missal was started now and you can't even say the new gloria till christmas :)

    I think the missals have to do with funding/preference. The cathedral doesn't have them but two of the other parishes in our area have had them.

    One thing about the missals depending on which version you have they have to be changed every 6 weeks or so. That can be VERY time consuming if you can't get a lot of volunteers.

  8. I buy a Missal each year with the Sunday readings in it but I would really like to purchase a leatherbound one with Mass readings for everyday of the year for all 3 years. But at the moment it is not within my budget so I will have to wait.

  9. Stacy and Megan, what a coincidence! My husband and I have gone to several churches in the area and we are really happy with our choice of Sacred Heart as our home parish.

    Beth Anne, all the Missals at the churches I've attended that had them were for the entire year, no need to change except once a year, although I agree that the cost probably has a lot to do with it.

    Tricia, I've been wanting to get a subscription to the Magnificat for a long time now so I could have the daily readings, and morning and evening prayers, but unfortunately, that's not really in the budget for us either. I was hoping someone would ask us what we want for Christmas so we could ask for it, but no such luck.


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