Saturday, December 22, 2007

Another Weird Thing About Me

I like to go to Midnight Mass, a Catholic (and Anglican) service held at midnight on Christmas Eve. I'm not Catholic, and wasn't even raised Catholic, and have rather negative feelings about a lot of Catholic dogma (not Catholic individuals), but I like Midnight Mass.

I don't go very often, and I haven't been in at least five years. Two years ago MM (my only friend who isn't too annoyed at the Catholic church to attend) and I were supposed to go, but when I got to his and TL's house, he wasn't feeling well so we ate Flemish spice cookies and talked until 2am. Last year MM, the kids, and I went to the 5pm Children's Mass at Batman's school, but it didn't resonate with me as the whole Mass was directed to an under-10 audience. This year both Batman and Lizard are involved in the Christmas pageant part of the Mass, and MM says one Christmas Mass is enough.

I have attended some good Midnight Masses and some really bad ones. No and I and a friend went to Midnight Mass years ago at their high school in which a major part of the homily was about how when the SFPD placed an undercover cop on campus to ferret out drugs, they didn't find any. Denver D and I went to a Midnight Mass with his parents in Denver during which the priest talked about two parishioners who had died suddenly just before Christmas. I'm certainly not Catholic, but these homilies seemed really out of place for Christmas.

The best Midnight Mass I attended was at a church in NW Portland which had been recommended to me because the music there was so beautiful. The music was traditional and the Mass was in Latin, which was confusing and made me feel rather distant from the experience. However, the homily, which was in English and Spanish, really inspired me. It was at the beginning of my career in social work, while I was still volunteering at Harry's Mother. The priest's message was "Go out and do good."

My favorite part of the Mass - and this was true when I was at Catholic school - is the few minutes when everyone greets everyone else with a handshake (or, at CSH in the late '70's and early '80's, a two-fingered peace sign). I don't know if they call it this everywhere, but at my old school it was called something like The Peace Greeting. It is a moment in the service when everyone recognizes the individuality of each person and breaks through the barrier to smile and touch.

Namaste. The divine in me greets the divine in you.

1 comment:

Saipan Writer said...

Season's greetings.

I love Midnight Mass, too. As a kid, it meant staying up really late (when normally we had very strict bedtimes). Somehow it just seems more holy to be praying at midnight, when the world is (was) more silent and peaceful.

Here, there are no midnight masses--just the evening masses before Christmas and the morning and evening masses on Christmas day. The latest one at our local church is at 9 PM.

The first year I went to the 9 PM mass, (after years of being "fallen"), I went with my partner and his family. We live in the tropics, and I was pretty low key, relaxed and adjusted, but I wasn't prepared for the style, all the same. We took lawnchairs to the parking lot and sat outside! Mass came to us through loudspeakers mounted on the outside of the church. Cool tropical breezes and a light buzz of conversation accompanied the Mass.

The inside of the church was jam-packed, so this expedient of sitting outside was more comfortable and we were not alone--there was a throng on three sides of the church -all but the back. It wasn't midnight Mass, but it was memorable.

As for the sign of peace--that was added during the time I'd "fallen" away--the first time I experienced it, I thought I'd gone to a Protestant church. I'm glad you like it--it still seems foreign to me!

Then I started going to church because I wanted my daughter to be raised Catholic, and felt the need to attend if I would do that. The first Mass I went to with her the choir and congregation sang a song "Loving and forgiving are you, Oh Lord, slow to anger, rich in kindness..." which seemed to speak directly to me and welcomed me back.

So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And thanks for your support on my blogging (my "big" adventure) this past year. I appreciate it.