Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mass with the Charismatics

Tonight at my parish there was a "charismatic Mass." I use quotation marks to express the little bit of confusion that phrase always gives me. Yes, I know full well what is meant and commonly understood by it. And yet, the contrarian in me always wants to ask, what Mass isn't a charismatic Mass in a more technical understanding of the term.

I was there, and it was a happy thing. I wrote about an experience last March of another charismatic Mass which left me with different ponderings. As I re-read my thoughts about that Mass, I wondered how much my rather strong sense of anticipation then affected my experience. With today's Mass, I remembered it only last night as I checked the dutifully filled-in calendar. I looked forward to it as I look forward to going to any Mass every day, but with no particular heavy expectations of the community or the experience. I wasn't going to "get," I guess. I was going to give.

It always does interesting things inside my brain to mix together different facets of my history in unexpected ways. There I was, in my own parish church, which is filled with a wide assortment of very current memories, singing songs that I had learned and sung frequently some 25 years ago. Unlike the last Mass, I was able to enter in immediately into the praise and worship before the Mass began. I was struck with an urge to dance as I used to long ago and far away at my charismatic fellowship. I have never danced in a Catholic setting (my one experience as a liturgical dancer at a parish Mass on Pentecost excepted -- yes, really) and I wasn't entirely sure how it would culturally fly. Then I looked around the church and realized that the average age meant that the Holy Spirit would need to move people somewhat miraculously to get anyone to hop around! Pews and kneelers inhibited me more than the people around me, though, so all I could really do was shuffle.

I always wondered when I was in my early days of transitioning into being a Catholic if I was going to be missing out on really satisfying worship. To go from Pentecostal hootenanny to a staid or routine-like Mass was a seismic cultural shift. And while I can say that for someone like me to whom music is so central to my heart and therefore my worship that I can enjoy praising God with certain worship songs, clapping, hand raising and yes, dancing, there is absolutely nothing more satisfying than the Mass. It is what we are made for. Oh, we can't be too precise about rite because there are of course other valid rites than the Latin, but the experience of God coming to us in Word and Sacrament -- there is nothing else than can compare. Nothing.

God's call to us tonight was to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, to make us transparent vessels of His love, so that this power of His love could spread to and through His children far and wide. To be joyful, to be peaceful, to be confident that we are loved amid the dire turmoil of life -- this is evidence of the supernatural at work. These are signs of hope to those who need to see. This is what Jesus desires for us to become.

And I say, Yes! and Amen.

No comments: