Monday, December 19, 2011

This is Why I Love My New Church.

Okay, so, technically it's a chapel of ease. There are no Masses during the week but that's okay, I can always go to a closer parish for that. On Sundays there are only two Masses that are celebrated, both in the morning.

There are two priests: one (in his 70s-80s) who celebrates the first Mass and another (in his late 30s-early 40s) who celebrates the second Mass. I have never heard two other priests give homilies like they do. It's relevant and they aren't afraid to talk about topics that other priests wouldn't dare mention. They are honest yet approachable and charismatic.

This chapel has been in existence since the late 1700s. The altar has remainded unchanged for goodness knows how long. It is absolutely beautiful. It is very small but it feels more open than most other parishes I've attended.

The average age of those who attend is about 60. There are very few of us who are under 30. The children that attend with the parents are well behaved and when a meltdown begins, the parent quietly steps out with the child. More women wear mantillas than I could ever imagine in a single church. Most of the mantillas wearers are in their late teens to late 20s. No one is ever dressed inappropriately (read: miniskirts or other things that expose too much flesh). Have I mentioned that the altar boys are actually altar boys? They range from elementary school age to late teens/early 20s.

Everyone is genuinely attentive and active during the Mass. Never have I attended a parish in which everyone sings... loudly and joyfully. Even if it's off key, no one notices because we're all too focus on being there for God. When the organist starts playing and the beautiful music envelops the church, there is a sensation of happiness and openness that my heart begins to feel. Some people still mess up the "with your spirit" parts but we all smile and continue on. When the priest delivers the homily you can hear a pin drop. When you walk in or walk out, you get a smile and a handshake from one of the ushers.

There is no clapping (see the post picture) or anything that takes away from the Mass. Everything is done with reverence. Never, in the past month and a half that I've attended, have I ever felt that I am not there for God. It's not about us (which is how I've felt at most parishes; it's more about the people than God); it's about Him. It is about hearing the Word and taking it into our hearts. There are little to no distractions during the Mass and it makes it that much better.

Here is the thing that I best love about my new church: despite it being for the cremé de la cremé of those living in my part of Los Angeles, you don't feel it. There is no pretentiousness. Yes, they dress nicely and drive nice cars, but if you're not materially rich, you don't feel ostracized. I had no idea that some of the (economically) wealthiest people in L.A. attended Mass at this church until one of my Godmothers brought it up. Total shocker when I first heard it. Unlike some parishes where you feel like you get criticized for the smallest things or even given dirty looks if they deemed you unworthy (seriously, I've felt this on more than one occasion), all you feel is a sense that they've embraced you into their little tight-knit community. And, again, it's not about you or them... it's about getting together and focusing on God. He is the reason why we get together every Sunday morning.

Anyway, I just wanted to share these random thoughts that I've been having the past couple of Sundays. I've never felt so comfortable, at home, and at peace during a Mass as I have at this church. Thank God that mom and I not only agreed on a parish we both liked, but that we also look forward to every Sunday morning. :)

btw, yes and no, this was and was not a filler post. I would've posted it yesterday but I got preoccupied with something else. :) The CINO post is still a work in progress as I'm trying to be as diplomatic and uncritical as possible. It's hard but it can be done. :D

I hope you all had a great weekend and are having a great beginning of week. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless! :D


Stacy said...

That's really beautiful! The picture you posted really resonated with me... sometimes in mass after the communion song, people will clap if it was particularly pretty or stylistic. It has always rubbed me the wrong way, but I never could figure out why. Now it totally makes sense! We have just finished receiving the Lord, and we are clapping for the choir? Sometimes I wish I was brave enough to say something!

I go to the cathedral where I live, which is soon (2-3 years) to become a chapel like yours, because they are building a huge, new cathedral. We aren't into huge churches and love the current cathedral so we are thinking about staying there, depending on family needs as we will be starting a family around that time. But I hope that it becomes like the chapel you are attending!

Mandi @ Catholic Newlywed said...

I love your description of your church - sounds like my type of place! I never heard that quote before, but my husband and I heartily agree, we really dislike clapping during Mass (or after for that matter).

I think that this speaks a bit to how the physical church affects what happens within it. It can't be a coincidence that it is an old traditional chapel and that the people act with more traditional reverence. I think the large "modern" looking churches tend to have less reverent congregations for a reason - if the church doesn't look like a church, it doesn't feel like a sacred place and therefore isn't treated that way.

Very interesting that it attracts wealthy parishioners.

StarbucksMom... said...

That sounds amazing! I am surprised to hear there is a chapel that old in Los Angeles! Are you going to share the location of your prized find?

Emmy Cecilia said...

Stacy - I hope your current cathedral becomes a chapel like the one I attend. I am not a big fan of the cathedral in Los Angeles as it feels more like a museum than anything.

Mandi - Yeah, I used to cringe with the clapping as well. Agreed with your comment of the modern looking churches -- I feel that way at the Cathedral in downtown L.A.

StarbucksMom - due to the nature of some of my posts and my anonymity (Emmy Cecilia is a pen name), I am afraid I cannot reveal that on this blog. Sorry. :) However, if you follow me on twitter, you will see where I check in on a weekly basis so it becomes less of a mystery. :)

Liz S. said...

SING IT SISTER EMMY! Thank you for calling attention to the loss of revernce in the mass. I unfortunately attend a more "charismatic" parish where ALL of things you mentioned about what makes your current celebration of the mass so special is no longer practiced. There is a huge part of me that feels it is my duty as a Catholic to attempt to be a force in trying to get my parish to make the proper changes but more & more I feel it maybe a losing battle. I LOVE the quote & picture of our good Pope & of COURSE he couldn't be more correct. I wish there were more Traditional Catholics out there. I pray for all the time. I think we have lost so much of our authetic fabric of what makes us Catholic...not just Christians when we practice the mass like OTHERfaiths...not Traditionally our own. I know that feeling when you feel so at home in your parish & wish I had that feeling myself. I am a happy new follower & invite you to check out my blog as well!!! Good luck & glad to have found you!

StarbucksMom... said...

Completely understand! No worries!