This list of resulutions for the new year appeared in our local parish bulletin not once, but twice, once as an insert and once in the space normally reserved for comments from the pastor. I assume that means that they have his endorsement.
NEW YEARS’ RESOLUTIONS (My comments in blue.)
- I resolve to be more welcoming to those I encounter entering and leaving Mass or other services. I hope this means before entering and after leaving the body of the church itself. Otherwise, the commotion could interfere with those trying to spend quiet moments in prayer either preparing for mass or giving thanks after mass.
- I will arrive at least 10 minutes early so that I can prepare myself for the privilege of attending Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. And if it is necessary for the choir to practice before mass, they should finish before worshippers arrive to prepare themselves.
- I resolve to move all the way down inside my pew so that it will be easier for others to enter my pew and I will make them feel welcome. Except, of course, for the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, who will have to leave their pews when the Lamb of God is sung.
- I will not just attend Mass; I will participate in it by singing and if my sense of pitch is horrible, I will sing anyway because I am honoring my God in doing so. It's kinda hard to do this when the choir is performing numbers that nobody else can sing. I also love singing the psalm response, but it's nice when the sung psalm matches the psalm for the Sunday's readings.
- I will listen intently to the readings and the homily and determine how I can apply the lessons they contain to my daily life and work.
- I will be attentive and reverent at all times, but especially at the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
- If I bring my children to Mass I will ensure that they are not a distraction to those around me. If, through no fault of my own, they are, I will take them into the vestibule at the back of church or if necessary, leave the church. This is one that is oh so clear to those who don't actually have young children. My wife and I often split masses to avoid taking the baby, but when we go as a family, she gets fussy. At some ambiguous point we might decide to take her out, and usually she's fine as soon as whoever has her stands up and starts moving. I'm sure that somewhere, someone is thinking, "It's about time!" It's much easier for them than it is for us. As for our Erin, who is five and has Downs Syndrome, we sometimes keep her home, but when she wants to go to mass with her mom, we aren't going to tell her no. And if Erin is a big distraction to someone behind us, doesn't that say as much about them as it does about us?
- If I am a server, reader, distributor, choir member or usher I will be at my assigned Mass to perform my duties. If I cannot make it, I resolve to work hard to find a substitute. I was at an 8 am mass once where six out of eight scheduled EMHCs were absent. It seemed to me that the pastor was a little miffed, and justifiably so. I think that a little discipline (not exactly what I mean, but other word seems to fit -- I think I mean more of a spelled out policy or rules) and a mandatory annual retreat for those serving liturgical roles would help.
- Unless I have an emergency, I will not rush out of church after Mass, ignoring those around me so I can beat them out of the parking lot. Instead, I will look for opportunities to engage my fellow parishioners in conversation. But please remember that, until you've left the building, you are still in a sacred space.
- I will not leave Mass until I have received the final blessing and sung the final song with enthusiasm.
Friends, this is OUR church. Let’s make it the best it can be for everyone. Yeah, it's our church, but more importantly, it's HIS Church.