Thursday, October 14, 2010

Distraction at Mass a bad thing?

I have a great deal of longing for piety, reverence, sacredness and solemnity at Mass. My family and I are blessed to be members of a very good parish actually. Positives: We have order priests, many (not all) altar servers wear cassocks, our priests wear cassocks, 1880's style church architecture, rather minimal wreckovation, orthodox homilies, pipe organ, fairly solid catachetics...well not too bad right?

Negatives: Odd mixture of sappy 70's music, a virtual ARMY of extraordinary ministers, no altar rail, altar girls wearing flip get the picture.

The point of this post is not to complain but to rather share with you how I've learned to cope with this. Oh, about 3 years ago or so I went through a terrible, close to one year temptation to flee the Church. If there had been an SSPX chapel in my town, I don't think I could have resisted going there. Anyway - I would at times be in such spiritual pain at mass I would try to let my soul flee the church while "I" stayed put in the pew to make my Sunday obligation. This was a terrible affliction. Currently my soul has calmed down and this is why...

I went to confession about my "distraction" and was directed to close my eyes when this temptation (to flee Mass) came upon me and pray to Jesus and His mother for help and join my suffering with thiers.
So I began as directed and after months and months of struggle I can now sit rather peacefully through anything. Through God's grace I have been gifted with some help in this regard. The ONLY time I open my eyes once the Liturgy of the Eucharist starts is when I go to Communion until we stand for the prayers of the faithful. I never look upon the hand raising at the Our Father, I look not upon the scantily clad making the mad dash for the altar. Even with the use of the rather horrible Mass of Creation my soul follows the liturgy while my eyes cannot see the horrors before me.

I let my soul explore the depths of the beauty of our Catholic religion as it were. At the Agnus Dei I imagine a multitude of saints surrounding Jesus the Lamb at Knock and all the angelic choirs sing to Him. I can barely hear the organ, or the people around me. During the Eucharistic prayer I imagine being instead in a medieval Cathedral with St. Charles Borromeo saying mass ad orientam with great sanctity. At other times I kneel at the feet of a holy priest in a Nazi gulag saying a secret, private Mass. Going on...the Sanctus can be the Seraphim bowing low to the Throne singing out "Sanctus, Sanctus!" or St. Thomas More singing as he walked to the block, or St. Joan of Arc singing her love of God from the get the picture. The great amen could be the moment that Maria Goretti chose to give her life rather than into her attackers impure desires, staring up at the tip of the knife "Amen"

My soul can soar the heights while my body stays still and quiet in the pew. In a word I try to join my soul with the Church Triumphant because it is only there that my thirst for beauty and solemnity will be satified. Only Heaven shall not disappoint. Sometimes my soul is so immersed in my contemplation that I have a hard time not crying or letting it show.

The Lord had pity on me and has granted me this great consolation and has saved me from further discouragement. I wanted to share this with you so you may try this to see if it is helpful for your soul as well.

May Mary's prayers go with you always. Amen+


sprachmeister said...

Thanks for sharing this as I've been thinking about this a lot lately - particularly about the presence of angels and saints at mass. I too let myself get distracted too much by the things that annoy me and so now I do pretty much what you describe. Remembering the angels and focusing on the spiritual reality during Mass really helps.

Ray from MN said...

Thanks, Sanctus!

I've always been distracted easily at Mass. I even left once when a young couple a couple of pews in front of me thought they were in a movie theater and couldn't keep their hands off of each other. I left and went to another parish that day.

I started sitting closer to he front, right behind the "Pharisee section." That helps a lot. But if the distraction is with the priest, the servers or the ministers, the problem still exists.

I'm going to try your ideas.

But most of the problem is a wandering mind. I don't know how that can be helped.

I'm thinking of getting a good missal, even for an N.O. Mass. I have one for the E.F. I suppose I could use that one, now that I think about it.

Anonymous said...

I get distracted too... usually by
my grand daughter... she wears "poor white trash" clothes, flip flops, sits like a guy with her elbows down on her lower thighs, even has had gum in her mouth... looks somewhat like a baseball player without the uniform! Stands on the kneeler and makes little to no eye contact with the priest. Her sister is like a little angel! Kneels and folds her little hands and is quiet and respectful in Church. Also... she goes to Catholic School while the other one goes to public... that could have something to do with it. Then all the chattering that goes on before Mass starts.. and the priest when he says,"turn to your neighbor and ask them if they've ever shared a meal with a stranger" OH, PLEASE!!!
I don't want to hold hands with anyone except maybe my OWN family.
And why do people feel they are ok to wear jeans, flip flops or shorts to Church... is that how they would dress if they were to go to a fancy wedding??? Then they use this stupid excuse..."Do you think God really cares? Don't you think it's more important to be
there than to stay at home in bed?

Teresa Moore said...

Distraction @ Mass.....
I respectfully do not agree with your comment regarding the lifting up of hands during the Lord's Prayer at Mass. Why would you need to keep your eyes closed so as not to see this??? Lifting up one's hands in praise unto our Lord is a beautiful gesture. It is very scriptural and appropriate to do so in a reverant manner.
I agree with all the other things you mention and my heart aches at how all this disrespectfulness must hurt our Lord and Lady.
Maybe if we heard from the pulpit once in awhile in regards to this it might make a bit of difference.
Basically it appears we have lost reverance for all that is Holy.
Thank you for sharing all you share with us and may God continue to Bless you and yours.

Sanctus Belle said...

Teresa - Thank you for your comment. The raising up of the hands at the Our Father is actually a liturgical abuse. This is a mimicing of the Orans posture of the Priest. The raising of the hands by the laity is not a bad thing as you state to praise God but has no place in the Mass.

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

I lack the imagination but to be anywhere but in a nasty modern church with nasty modern music with distracting people who clap and raise their hands up. Even the altar servers hold hands during the Our Father. I have to close my eyes during it!

Please pray for me. I was once tempted to just stop going to Mass but now I realize I can't live without the Precious Body and Blood of Christ. I see the ugliness and distractions as somewhat a price I have to pay- which is nothing compared to the price He had to pay for us.

Sometimes I feel like God has abandoned and chastised His people by depriving a majority of us from beautiful, meaningful liturgy. In this, I humbly ask your prayers.