Monday, March 01, 2010

Mulling over the Charismatic Mass

Tonight I attended a charismatic Mass celebrated by our Bishop at a local parish. It had been well advertised, so I'd made plans some time ago to attend, with some anticipation. I guess what I'm mulling over is that anticipation and then the actual experience of it.

The Mass was pretty full, populated largely by those associated with the charismatic covenant community in town, and the former charismatic parish that was closed in recent years along with several others here in a consolidation process.

Oh, it's not like I could be disappointed by a Mass. That's not what I mean to imply. But there's this strange-to-me phenomenon I note, having my experience of the charismatic renewal pre-date my Catholicism by a few years. It's not that I feel I left the charismatic renewal in becoming Catholic. But I think the truth of the matter is that with all of the experience and understanding of Christianity I had, I then found myself called to the Catholic Church. Many other of these friends found themselves somewhere in or still near (but exiting) the Church when they were called to the charismatic renewal, or at least experienced a true conversion in its midst. Everyone's path is different.

I'm rambling here, trying to tease out my point.

Worshipping God in the fullness of the Holy Spirit's gifts to me is what gives me life. So, who wouldn't want to be at a charismatic Mass with our Bishop and lots of people who love God? But as I was at Mass I kept thinking about something I'd read in The Joy of Music Ministry by John Michael Talbot. To paraphrase, he said that in order to enter into worship (and to lead others) one needs a sort of nakedness of soul and of spirit: a complete openness to God and vulnerability to God's Spirit. Only in this state is worship "in the Spirit." And (to continue with that lingo) I was unable to get that breakthrough during that Mass. In this regard, my spirit is very fussy about music ministry. I can't deeply enter in to just any worship music. Oh, it doesn't mean there was something "wrong" with it. But I was reminded again of when my husband and I were discerning whether to join the covenant community shortly after we got married. My discernment was no, it didn't fit. Same with the lay Carmelite community we tried out. It didn't fit. Not-so-oddly, both times it was my strong sense that we were called to simple parish life. We found that parish the year after we married.

But I believe it has only been within the last year that I've really entered into the reality that belonging to my parish is actually a vocation. And that specifically, belonging to the particular music ministry I'm in there is actually a vocation. Because I realized that my fussy spirit is completely at home and completely free right there -- there is the charismatic Mass that gives me life. The "hugeness" of this to me cannot be overstated.

As if to confirm my thoughts, after I got into my car a woman from my parish tapped on my window. I rolled it down, and she said she'd been meaning to tell me how much she loved it when I cantor, because she could always tell when I "go off in the Spirit." (Every movement has its lingo, no?) She told me repeatedly how much of a blessing it is, and she told me "Please, don't stop!" I thanked her repeatedly, and drove off shaking my head and pondering with amazement the gifts and charisms God gives. I might have just smiled at her phraseology, had I not been thinking about what John Michael wrote about worshipping "in the Spirit."

The gratitude that washes over me sometimes to imagine that these great things could be part of my life is practically breath-taking. How, indeed, is it possible, but by the sheer graciousness of God?!

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