View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Exodus - Sunday Mass style

Sister Kathy did something unusual at St. Syzygy’s Palm Sunday.

Before Mass, she was making her standard announcements about upcoming parish events, requesting that people turn off their cell phones, etc.

Then she added, “At the end of Mass we ask that people not leave until Father is down the aisle.”

At that point she backed away from the microphone ever so slightly, a look of confusion crossed her face, and she stood there in silence.

She could have done that to let the words set in (perhaps). Or it might have been that being critical was difficult for her (believable). Then again, it might have been that she had more to say, but chose to bite her tongue (intriguing).

After a few awkward seconds, she finished her announcements, and the Mass began.

Sitting at the back of church, I have long noticed the number of people afflicted with the early exodus syndrome. Some Sundays, by the time the service actually comes to an end the newly emptied pews at back of the church remind me of a desert hillside following a flashflood. There are folks who simply head for the doors as soon as they have Communion in mouth. Others wait until the final hymn begins. I have even seen people nearly collide with the procession as it heads down the aisle.

Now, some folks might have a legitimate reason to leave early.

Perhaps they feel ill. But given the numbers heading for the exits, one has to wonder then if some terrorists are using us to test biological or chemical agents.

In other cases, it could be their children have reached the limit of endurance – or their diapers. But in general few of the fleeing faithful seem to have children in tow or arm.

Or it might just be that Aunt Matilda is waiting to get picked up for her Sunday visit, and you know how she hates to be kept waiting.

But the cynic in me (mea culpa) suspects that most people just don’t want to get caught in the traffic jam as the parking lot empties. After all, they could put the five minutes they save to better use.

Now I must admit people find many things to do at Mass to bug me. The gum-chewing folks doing their best to imitate cows rank up there. The folks who use every break in the action or hymn to carry on conversations also rate high.

But the early exit crowd has always bothered me. It could be a holdover from the days when I was in the choir/music group and I took it almost personally as people fled while we were still singing. There are also the Sundays when people in the pew with me have eyed me malevolently as I continue singing while they clearly want to escape.

I wonder if some of these fleeing folks go to dinner at a friend’s house and leave as soon as dessert is over – maybe even chewing the last morsels as they head out the door.

Still, I think the parish is missing some money-making opportunities here.

We could have ushers standing at all the doors collecting an early exit toll.

Or maybe we could rent out kids to folks to give them an excuse to get out.

Or perhaps we could charge a fee to pick up Matilda and drive her around the block – or the city – a few times.

I leave it to the finance committee to explore the options.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice that after Sister Kathy’s announcement, I spotted only one man leaving early.

He was hunched over, his head bent, with a definite aura of Catholic guilt surrounding him.

Maybe I underestimated Sister Kathy.

2 Comments:

Blogger Lee Strong said...

I am testing this comment option.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

It works!

Peace, Lee.

Good to see you blogging.

1:25 PM  

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