Saturday, April 7, 2012

25 Years Ago, I Came Home - Part 2 - It's All About the Liturgy

In Part 1 of my reflections on 25 years in the Catholic Church, I focused on the community of friends in faith. Yes, community was one big reason I love the Church, have stayed and became more deeply involved year after year. The other reason is the liturgy.

Tonight, as we gather around the Easter fire, light and bless the new Easter candle, process into church and light the tapers of all those present, and launch into the Exsultet, the great proclamation of the Resurrection of our Lord, I will be doing the thing I love best - being part of the prayer of the community.

From the moment I attended my first Mass while I was in the RCIA process as a candidate for full commuion, I was in love. I found great comfort in the dignity, structure and ritual nature of Catholic worship. As I became comfortable with my own part in it, that love grew - and I went deeper.

Having grown up singing on and off in church and community choirs, I knew I wanted to join the parish choir as soon as the Easter Vigil was over. During the summer, I began training to be a cantor, and in the fall, I was asked to join the parish liturgy committee, where I learned much from the wonderful people who had been on it for years. Soon, I also volunteered to help the diocesan liturgy office to catalog  their music library.  Later, I would be asked to oversee that office during a 2-year hiatus when it was "closed" - and found myself being asked to coordinate diocesan liturgies.  My bishop kept telling me "You can do it!" I was not as sure as he was, but I had a lot of help preparing for the Rite of Election,  Chrism Mass, and Ordinations for two years.

It was when I was asked to attend a major liturgical conference, sitting in a room full of professional liturgists and bishops, that I found myself asking what I was doing there. At that point, a voice inside me said "Because you can do this!"  Armed with the sense that God was calling me to go even deeper, I began a 4-year process of obtaining a Master's Degree in Pastoral Studies with emphasis in liturgy. That has enabled me to coordinate liturgy in two parishes, and to serve the Church in many ways.

Why is the liturgy such a good fit for me? Many reasons.

  • I love praising God. Without Him, and the community of faith with which He has surrounded me, I would not be here... in many ways.
  • I love words. As someone who was once an English Major, I have a love for the words in the Mass.
  • I love music. Born, fortuitously enough, on St. Cecilia's day,  my first songs as a young child were common Protestant church hymns and I had been in choirs and ensembles all my life before joining the Church. I also play guitar, which has occasionally come in handy.
  • I love when things make sense. At heart, I am an intellectual. The more I study liturgy and the more I learn, the more the liturgy "clicks" with me.  The interweaving of how what we pray is what we believe, and the many ways that manifests itself in the Mass - that fascinates me.
  • I love being part of something bigger than myself. Joining the "one voice" of the people raised in prayer to the Father through the Son, in the presence of the Holy Spirit - for that hour or so, I can put away the ego, the cares and concerns of life, and immerse myself in "God's time."

There are probably more reasons, but these, I think are the main ones. So, in two-and-a-half hours, when we gather around the Easter fire, I will be in my element. Immersed in the Mass, part of the great praise of God's people in response to the miracle of Christ's Resurrection.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. The Easter Vigil Mass must be the densest 2 hours in Christendom.