Fenelon Clan belongs to a parish that has daily Mass at noon rather than in the morning. For years I went to the noon Mass and simply made the break in my day to get there. Eventually, as the kids got older and more involved in their own lives and my writing business got busier, it became more and more difficult to take out a lump of time smack dab in the middle of our day.
On and off, I tried going to the morning Mass at the church down the block. I’d go for a while but then get discouraged because I felt like an outsider intruding on their little community. I also repeatedly got frustrated with the priest’s adjustments to the rubrics of the Mass.
Recently, I made the decision that going to Mass at the neighborhood church was far better than not getting to Mass at all. So, I ignored the stares and frowns and forgave the adjustments to the Mass (as best I could). The priest is no doubt a faithful, holy, and knowledgable priest. In fact, there’s a lot that I really do like about him and the way he celebrates Mass.
The other day, one of the parish members stopped Mark and I and introduced herself and her husband. It was a very nice – and surprising – gesture. She didn’t quite understand that we don’t belong to that parish and so as Father was locking up, she introduced us to him. “Father really likes to know his people,” she informed us.
He didn’t seem the least bit interested in us. I was disappointed and hurt. Did he think we were intruders, too? Was he upset that we were attending daily Mass at his church without becoming parish members?
At first I found myself grumbling critically about the experience. My prideful self didn’t like being snubbed like that. Later, I gave it some prayer and thought.
This pastor is trying to create community in his parish. Perhaps he felt that someone who merely lurks at daily Mass disturbs the cohesiveness of that community. He’s also got the practical side of things to worry about – paying staff salaries, utility bills and purchasing supplies. Perhaps he felt that folks who wander in and out of Mass attendance defrays the quality of the liturgical experience. Perhaps he simply wondered why, if we’re willing to attend daily Mass, we’re not willing to fully support the parish by becoming members. I really don’t know.
I’d like to think and pray more about it. I’d also like to ask others who are in the same situation how they handle it. I can’t be the only person in the world who belongs to one parish but attends daily Mass at another, can I?