Sunday, 2 September 2007

A quick Mass

My parish priest started his homily a while ago by saying he had read that in any congregation at an English Catholic church, 5% of the congregation would be hoping for a Latin Mass, 15% would be hoping for an English Mass and the other 80% would be hoping for a quick Mass.

I'm always amazed at the speed of the Masses in Northern Ireland. In the parish I was visiting this weekend and have visited a number of times before, I can usually get in and out of Sunday Mass in under 20 minutes. The congregation start their responses almost before the priest has finished talking. They make no attempt to speak in unison - each person gabbles the responses as fast as they can. Anyone attending Mass for the first time in this parish would have no chance of being able to follow what was going on.

The first time I went, there were cars parked on the street outside the church car park, blocking the exit to the car park and in all available spaces in front of the church.

"Oh dear," I thought. "The church is pretty full - I'd better park down the road and walk back up."

It was only after Mass that I realised that there was an overflow car park behind the church, which was empty. It's always empty - people like to park out at the front so they can make their quick getaway after they've given their 20-odd minutes to God.

I suppose a quick Mass fulfils my Sunday obligation. I'm not so sure it nourishes my soul and nurtures my spirit.

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