Mass Appeal

Posted on January 8, 2014 under Storytelling with no comments yet


The ranks are thinning out with no farm team in sight.  A combination of demographics and scandals has reduced the number of attendees at Catholic Churches throughout North America.  I see it every week from my perch in the choir loft.  Row upon row of empty pews, with scarcely a hint of any young people.  It wasn’t all that long ago that things were very different.

In nomine Patris, et Filii’ et Spiritus Sancti.   Amen

Back in the ‘60’s, Saturday night was notable for two reasons; everyone watched the hockey game and just about everyone shined their shoes in preparation for church.  There was only one hockey channel and six teams, and hockey was the next closest thing to religion.  And speaking of religion, in our family of ten it was imperative to have shiny shoes for Sunday Mass.

We each took turns applying shoe polish to our shoes and letting them sit for a few hours before the final buffing and shining.  It was not uncommon to see all 10 pairs sitting side by side on an old piece of newspaper.  I can still smell the shoe polish vividly.

Introibo ad altare Dei.  Ad Deum qui laetificat, juventutem meum.

We marched into the church like a well-oiled army and took our seats in our pew.  Don’t be mistaken.  We didn’t actually own the pew, but we might as well have.  We occupied an entire row of seats and it was a given that the middle row in aisle 24, was “reserved” for the P.D. clan.  This delicate balance could be upset if an unsuspecting tourist happened to be sitting there when we arrived.  No problem.  We just filed in as usual with the tourist being progressively nudged until he found himself standing in the main aisle of the church.

Kyrie eleison.  Christe eleison.

As young children, we weren’t completely sure why we were attending Mass.  So you can imagine our consternation when the priest started speaking in a language we didn’t understand.  Several of us became altar servers which helped with our mastery of Latin.  And then, in 1964, on the heels of the Second Vatican Council, English became the official language for the Mass in our part of the world.

Father Stanley and Fr, Regis arrived on the scene as curates in our parish.  They could deliver a dynamic sermon and then join us on the football field to deliver body blows.  They were passionate about religion and sports; evidence of their Cape Breton roots.

Dominus vobiscum.  Et cum spiritu tuo.

Midnight Mass was a big deal and you had to get to the church early to get a good seat.  And when the Mass was over, we always went back home and wolfed down rabbit pie before heading to bed.  No wonder none of the family sleep well to this day when you consider some of our strange eating habits from days gone by.

Some of us still go to church even if it does not have the mass appeal it once had.

Ite missa est.  Deo gratias.




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