A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘worship

As a campaign volunteer and someone interested in politics in general, I’ve noticed some things over the course of the election:

  • animated discussions about parties’ policies
  • the readiness of volunteers to take on tasks such as door-to-door and phone canvassing
  • supporters’ willing participation in open houses and rallies
  • the camaderie among volunteers

We could use some of this energy and enthusiasm in the Church. Just think about these questions:

  • In parishes that have tried to run information sessions on natural family planning, for example, or a discussion on the Church and families, did just a handful of people show up?
  • How readily do people attend or volunteer at parish ministry fairs or agree to serve on committees?
  • When a parishioner is unable to serve at Mass, do others step up to help willingly or grudgingly?
  • How many parishioners attend parish social events such as coffee hour after Mass, potluck suppers, the parish picnic, or trivia or movie nights?
  • How welcoming are we to newcomers and visitors? Do we say hello, make room in the pew, and answer questions about parish activities and service opportunities? Do those in the congregation seem glad to be at Mass or look like they’re going through the motions?
IMG_4652

My son and husband at a youth ministry event

I know that families today are busier than ever with work and after-school activities, but what does the future hold for parish churches where volunteers are often in short supply, where youth and adults alike may be warming the pews, where there may be a flurry of activities but not a lot of passion for running or participating in them?

Maybe it’s time to look at our talents individually and as a parish to see where our skills lie and how they can best be used. To consider new ideas for parish activities that appeal to singles and families, youth and seniors. To move out of our comfort zone to attend Mass on a weekday, during the evening, or at another time on Sunday; to sit in a different pew; to really listen to the readings and sing the worship songs, joyfully if not tunefully.

Although it may seem that way sometimes, elections don’t come along every week, but Mass at our parish church does. Isn’t it time we discovered—or rediscovered—our enthusiasm for spending time worshipping and socializing with fellow parishioners?

All the framed certificates, photos, needlework and so on have eaten up most of our wall space, so we haven’t got room for more any art at home. And since my husband and I enjoy looking at art, becoming members of the National Gallery of Canada seemed like a good idea.

Yesterday we broke in our membership cards. I was anxious to see artist Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet exhibit in the chapel of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Convent, and we followed the sound of the music to the chapel.

convent chapel

Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada

As I learned from the National Gallery of Canada app, this chapel, originally part of the convent run by the Sisters of Charity, was dismantled, restored and rebuilt at the National Gallery. Speakers placed around the chapel for the Forty-Part Motet exhibit allow visitors to listen to forty separately recorded choir voices—individually, if you stand in front of a speaker, or as a group if you stand or sit in the middle of the chapel.

I walked around as I listened to the choir performance. I looked at the statues of saints Peter and Paul and Our Lady of Lourdes, and the decoration on the pillars and ceiling and at the front of the chapel. I listened as the voices lifted in praise came together in harmony, and I took the time to enjoy the experience. I’m moved once more just thinking about it.

As we sit in the pew at Mass each week, do we take the time to appreciate the beauty of the service, the music, the decoration of the church? Not every church is as ornately decorated as this chapel or the basilica, but do we see the beauty in the worship space—the altar cloth, the stained-glass windows, the polished wood? Do we think about the words we say and pray and sing?

This week, as we worship at our local parish or as a visitor at another church, I pray that we would try to shut out the distractions—the warmth of the day, the noise of electronics not muted, the thoughts of the chores that still need to be finished—and take the time to notice how our surroundings and the service are designed for worship and praise. And then be fully present and take part in the Mass.


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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