This morning it hit me square in the face as I contemplate which Easter Mass to go to. I generally try to be non-judgmental in most areas of my life, but I had not extended that courtesy to the people who put together the Mass at our local parishes. :-(Christ came to be Father’s compassion to the world. Be kind in your actions. Do not think that you are the only one who can do efficient work, work worth showing. This makes you harsh in your judgment of others who may not have the same talents. Do your best and trust that others do their best. And be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
― Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers
As I recall, we have gone to the Easter vigil almost every year since I entered the Catholic Church in 1996. Our 4th baby was baptized at that Mass, and we had 2 more after that, so we have always dragged 6 small, whiny, sleepy children to this longest Mass of the year! Why? Because it's the most beautiful, and we love seeing new Catholics born into the faith on this night.
But this morning, I found myself suggesting that we go to the earliest Mass of the day---because there is less opportunity for frustration at a shorter Mass. I get so tired of the deviations from the missal where there aren't supposed to be deviations. I get tired of the performance atmosphere that makes the congregation applaud anytime children (even teens) are singing. I get tired of priests not being reverent. Frankly, I get tired of of myself, of judging every Mass and decided what the priests, deacons, and musicians did well and what they didn't.
We have a priest friend, a convert like me, who is of the same mind and celebrates Mass exactly the way I would like it, but his assignment is much too far away for us to attend. He says I'll never be happy. And he's probably right, but I hold my breath and say a prayer every year when new priest assignments come out, hoping he'll be transferred to our parish or one nearby!
Reading this conversion story this morning made me realize that while it would be nice for the Mass to be as heavenly as I hope every time I attend, I don't go for that. I'm Catholic because I believe that Jesus Christ is present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist and that the priest brings Him to me despite his own personal sins or failings. We all have different spiritual gifts and I really do appreciate the special joyfulness that some priests have (even though they tend not to follow the rules as closely!), and I need to stop being so judgmental. After all, they have given their lives for the Church, and maybe those sanguine priests are better at nurturing their parishioners than some of their fellow-priests.
Maybe my time in Mass (and out of Mass) is better spent praying for our priests than griping about their failings. I'm doing my best in my vocation, and I have to trust that they are also doing their best.
I hope you have had a prayerful Lent and that you are looking forward to the joy of Easter as much as I am.