Catholic Church Reflection
Someone attending Mass for the first time may find the whole experience confusing. This does not mean that the Mass is conducted in a disorderly manner but the ceremonies and traditions observed are puzzling. Many Catholic churches reflect the culture of the time they were established and congregations have been using them for a long time. The architectural designs also vary, with some being small wooden cottages while others are massive cathedrals. They may be different culturally and architecturally but their interior arrangement and furnishings are almost similar. For instance, they all have a crucifix, carvings of the Stations of the Cross, candles, holy water, a Mary altar, and confessionals.
The purpose of this paper is to reflect on observations made after attending Mass in a dedicated worship place while making connections between them and ideas from the book ‘Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship.’
The experience of church and connections with the book
I totally went to two churches. The first one is the Christ Church at Kettering, so I can compare the differences and similarities between Catholic Church and Christ Church. It can make me feel more about the church cultures. I will describe how the church looks like and how people listen the mass. It is my first visit to a Catholic Church. The primary impression for me to this church is brightness and holy. The windows are most beautiful and characteristic I have ever seen. Every single window is decorative and has different patterns. I think the different patterns on the windows mean the different holy stories. In front of the church, there is a statue here, which look like a people was crucified. It is the crucifix. And before people went in and seat, people will dip a little bit holy water from the pool and draw the sign of the cross. At the beginning, candles will be lit. I think it is the signal that the mass begins. And then the Priest will lead us to do the mass, and we need to respond to him. I remembered he started with “ Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah !”
I know this word means “Praise the Lord”. And from the book <Sing to the Lord >, I know the importance and responsibility of the Priest. No other single factor affects the Liturgy as much as the attitude, style, and bearing of the priest celebrant, who” expresses prayers in the name of the Church and of the assembled community” What’s more, the importance of the priest’s participation in the Liturgy, especially by singing, cannot be overemphasized. The priest sings the presidential prayers and dialogues of the Liturgy according to his capabilities. (page 7, 1st and 2nd paragraphs)
When I was doing the pray and responding to the Priest, I am a little bit nervous. Because I don’t know the steps and what I should do. So I just follow others, and do some imitations. And during the mass, music play and important role, so the instrument is a crucial part for us. According to the book, musical instruments in the Liturgy are best understood as an extension of and support for the primary liturgical instrument, which is the human voice. (page 26, 4th paragraph ) However, in IC Chapel, I saw a piano and another instrument that I cannot make sure what it is. (maybe it is a pipe organ?) And pipe organ is most suited for solo playing of sacred music in the Liturgy at appropriate moments. Pipe organs also play an important evangelical role in the Church’s outreach to the wider community in sacred concerts, music series, and other musical and cultural programs. (page 27, 2nd paragraph)
Although I didn’t remember all the things we respond, I remember parts of them. . The priest opened his arms and sang the opening prayer, and when he was finished, the people said ‘Amen.’ The Liturgy of the Words consists of readings and responses from Scared Scripture. In receiving the Word of God with their hearts and minds, and in responding to it in song, “with people make this divine word their own.” (page 46, 2nd paragraph) And the most interested segment of the mass for me is wine drinking and eat the thin pancake. The priest took the chalice and extended his hands. In song acclaims the Lord’s command as all the people stood. Then the people said the Lord’s Prayer. The priest, aloud, declared peace to the entire congregation. Several responses by the people followed. The priest spoke some words privately at the altar as a way of preparing himself. After the minister had received the chalice, He proclaimed ‘This Is the Blood of the Lord’ and the bread ‘The Body of Christ.'(in IC Chapel, it uses something like thin pancake. It means the same I think) And then , people arranged in two queues and take the thin pancake and drink a little bit red wine. After it, people should all thank the Lord. He gives us food and help us away from starving. And at most end of the mass, people will say “ nice to meet you” to others. This shows people’s respects and thank Lord give us life.
Reflection on Observations
The Mass was flowing smoothly showing that the service was well planned. Everyone had his or her role to play and this eliminated the possibility of a mix-up of roles. Throughout the Mass, I noticed no one from the crowd went to the altar. And people’s actions and expression reveal the faith and appreciate to Lord.
And another thing I observe was from the service a significant portion of the words professed in the Mass were musical. The manner in which the priest talks and the people respond creates a rhythm. So the music they choose should accord with the Catholic background. And the book expounds that “Music for the Liturgy must be carefully chosen and prepared. Effective preparation of liturgical song that fosters the maximum participation of the gathered assembly is a cooperative venture that respects the essential role of a variety of persons with mutual competencies”. (Page 37, 3rd paragraph) So, sometimes , we can consider that the Priest help the people stay attentive by beginning every segment of the Mass by a song.
Attending the Catholic church is very meaningful. Although the books really confuse me sometime. Taking the mass help me solve a lot. First of all, I know the solemn of the mass and faith of the people. And how Priest and people to do the prey and response. Feeling all the steps in mass help me learn the Catholic tradition. Second, the architectural style is unique. Particularly, the windows for the church is colorful and magnificent. Third, the music is an essential role in Mass. The instruments that we use for the Mass is varied. The music is the way to make believers feel holy. In my opinion , music in Mass is a way to represent the Catholic Culture.