Our friend, Cardinal Fratelli recently traveled to the US. Taking the time to wander downtown incognito, ie. not wearing clericals, he visited an average Catholic parish for Mass. Here are his comments on the experience.
– I settled in quite nicely. However, a woman’s low-cut dress offended my virgin eyes and a young man’s drooping trousers offended my intelligence.
– I didn’t understand the opening hymn, Gather Us In. Who exactly were they calling “rich and haughty”? Why do we need courage to enter “the song”? Indeed, I would like to know what “the song” is.
– At the invocation of the Holy Trinity, I was rather distracted by a person nearby who signed the cross very rapidly, as if he were seized with terror.
– One of the altar boys curiously resembled a girl.
– I could not smell any incense- they must have run out of it.
– After the first reading, I said “Deo gratias” very loudly while everyone else said “Thanks be to God”. A few strange looks were sent towards me.
– I waved to a little child and he threw his toy at me.
– They provided nice, paper envelopes for our offering but I soon learned they were not made to hold coins.
– At the Most-Holy Consecration, the priest turned his back to God which I thought was quite rude.
– The priest spoke the Canon of Consecration very stridently. My ears nearly started to hurt from the volume of his voice. He must be more accustomed to cathedral services…
– When chanting the “Pater Noster”, someone forcefully grabbed my hand and I felt violated.
– An army of lay-people suddenly appeared at the altar, they took the hosts and chalices from the priest. I wanted to stop them but no one seemed alarmed.
– I knelt to receive Holy Communion and was looked at strangely.
– The choir sang beautifully but their incessant hymns after Holy Communion made it difficult for me to pray very well.
– I don’t intend to fuss but I noticed some people departed immediately after Holy Communion. These should be taught proper manners.
– For some odd reason, before the final benediction, there was a great deal of talk about confirmation classes, anniversaries, birthdays, raffles and bingo.