Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Some thoughts and your comments needed

I had a conversation this evening with a dear friend from interstate. The conversation began by a comment of mine regarding Catholics partying on a Saturday night. My view is that if I can't get up for Sunday morning Mass, say 9.30 (and be able to serve/sing), then I went out too late or drank too much etc. This is regardless of the fact that I may have risen in enough time to attend 11am or an evening Mass.

The discussion immediately transformed into a debate about morning Mass vs evening Mass. I argued that if you are normally a morning mass goer (as the great majority are) it is pure laziness if you don't get up for the morning Mass simply because you don't want to. It's inexcusable. Her argument, in my opinion, was sound but weak. Effectively that Mass is Mass is Mass and it's all about Jesus. (Yes my friend is charamatic - really don't know why this person bothers with me!)

I'd like your opinions and wisdom. Is morning Mass better for your soul (especially for young Catholics)? Should everyone aim to be a morning Mass goer or is it fine to get into the habit (for no genuine reason like work) of going to 5pm Mass?

21 comments:

Shan said...

Um... I think you're missing the forest for the trees.

Are you seriously suggesting that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass becomes more gracious or efficacious depending upon the time of day? If this were true, then what impact would that have upon Vigil Masses? (Consider also what implications this would have for the Easter Vigil.)

If you are properly disposed to attend Mass and pray, then - regardless of however late you stayed out, or how little sleep you had - you cannot be honestly accused of being lazy.

The word, my friend, is scruples.

DilexitPrior said...

I tend to agree with your friend that as long as you make it to Mass on Sunday at some point, it's fine. There is definitely nothing wrong or sinful about going to evening Mass.

That being said. . . if you live with your family, I definitely think going to Mass as a family should be a priority (rather than everyone going to different Mass times). Generally speaking that would mean going in the morning.

Furthermore, to start the day with the Mass sets the tone for the rest of Sunday as the Lord's Day. To begin the day with the Eucharist provides us with the grace we need to faithfully follow and serve Christ throughout the day.

aaron said...

Hmmm. Dilema. There is quite a large group of us in the 18-25 year old bracket at the Mass I attend that are social and tend to go out regularly. All of us pride ourselves that we can (nearly always) be up for the 9.30am Mass even if it means only 3-4 hours sleep. If you happen to miss that Mass and everyone knows it's because you went out Saturday night you cop it from all your mates! Mainly because you forgot to put Mass, you family, God, the Church first in that instance.

I'm not suggesting the sacrifice of the Mass is 'better' in the morning, but that maybe you receive more Graces for starting the day with Mass & the Holy Eucharist effectively putting that as your prime responsibility on Sundays. (I'm an engineer not a Theologian so please keep criticizing me if you like).

Shan said...

Ok.

"All of us pride ourselves that we can (nearly always) be up for the 9.30am Mass even if it means only 3-4 hours sleep."

The key word here is "pride." I would seriously suggest that if this is the atitude prompting you to attend an early Mass then you are not properly disposed to attend. The spiritual preparation for Mass is far more important than the physical. (Consider the widow's mite.) Or take the eucharistic fast, for instance. Do you observe that as a matter of obedience to the law or as a way of preparing yourself to receive the body, blood, soul & divinity of the Lord? (The difference between the two is the same difference between Saul the Pharisee and St Paul the Apostle.)

"If you happen to miss that Mass and everyone knows it's because you went out Saturday night you cop it from all your mates!"

Attending Mass is not a competition, nor is it a way to demonstrate your stamina. More to the point, if this is the atmosphere that your mates are bringing in their preparation for worship you have a Christian duty to, kindly, rebuke them.

It is this concern with saving face that can lead to a manner of desecrations. Consider the man who, though consciously in a state of mortal sin, receives Holy Communion for fear that - if he did not do so - his friends would mock him. Or worse - recognising his sin, deplore him.

"Mainly because you forgot to put Mass, you family, God, the Church first in that instance."

God is third in the list of things which go first? How is that putting the Lord first? :)

"I'm not suggesting the sacrifice of the Mass is 'better' in the morning..."

Dude, yes you are. You finished your post with a leading question that suggested that you believe that morning Mass is "better for your soul" and you asked for clarification.

"...maybe you receive more Graces for starting the day with Mass & the Holy Eucharist..."

I'm picturing a Heavenly Happy Hour.
Aaron, I don't think that the time of day, in and of itself, leads to more graces. What will is your preparation and disposition when you attend Mass.

Mass is Mass is Mass. Whether it is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, in the vernacular or in Latin, with full Cathedral choir or with taped music or even in silence - the Mass is the Mass. While we can talk about whether or not a certain Mass was licit or illicit, valid or invalid - it is a fool's errand to identify the zenith of Mass timetables.

Miss Monification said...

Peer pressure about what time Mass you go to?(Imagine here that I have one eyebrow raised in incredulity)

I would rather have a couple of extra hours sleep and be able to pray better then have 3 to 4 hours and be distracted by the fact that I have to at least APPEAR to be awake even if I am about to fall off the pew (or drop a candle stick as the case maybe). But that's just me.

Look I prefer to go to a morning Mass but that's because that is my personality and I pray better in the morning. My sister is NOT a morning person at all and seriouly it is much better for her to go to a later one.

aaron said...

But it returns to the fact that the previous night, you may have thought, “Should I stay for one more drink?” “Should I stay out for one more hour?" "Means I miss Mass in the morning..." Seems to me in that instance the social life is coming first.

Yes, Shan, God should have been first on the list but I was in a hurry to reply and get to uni. I just wrote them in no particular order.

Again with the word pride. Perhaps I should have phrased it that we would be ashamed for missing 9.30am Mass.

The party scene at uni, especially in first year, is where most Catholics lose their way in the faith. If they were to be encouraged to attend morning Mass they would by direct proportionality not go out as late, drink as much etc. I hear regularly, “it’s okay, I can go to Mass tonight.” With the evening Mass used as an excuse to stay out later, giving more time to recover from a greater hangover.

Better Mass and better for your soul are two different things. Just as there are different ways of attending Mass – just standing/kneeling there, or standing/kneeling there in prayer preparing yourself to receive Our Lord.

Off quickly to lecture. Com’on Fr., weigh in on this!

elderly_relative said...

I think it's a good idea to start off with why we keep the Sabbath. It's not primarily about our convenience but honoring God and going to Mass is the main event.
I think Aaron is basically right in his approach, because it mirrors a proper theological understanding of the priorities. While it's obviously true that the mass is the mass, it's not very helpful. If circumstances demand, it gives us some license in the matter of when we attend. But surely, if the whole day is oriented around mass, as it should be, then making it the first and main event should be the norm.
As for the malarky about not being a morning person, it strikes me as immensely self-indulgent. It doesn't stop people turning up for work of a morning, something which in the scheme of things is far less important.
I think it's also important to say that to go, or not go, with your family is neither here nor there. We don't go to chuch to SIT WITH ANYONE, but to attend the holy mysteries.

Shan said...

"The party scene at uni, especially in first year, is where most Catholics lose their way in the faith. If they were to be encouraged to attend morning Mass they would by direct proportionality not go out as late, drink as much etc. I hear regularly, “it’s okay, I can go to Mass tonight.” With the evening Mass used as an excuse to stay out later, giving more time to recover from a greater hangover."

With all due respect Aaron, this isn't true. The fundamental difference between the party scene in first year uni and in last year of high school is that everyone is of legal age by the end of first year. Unless one has been withdrawn from society and is unaccustomed to dealing with alternative view points, uni parties aren't likely to cause people to lose their way (uni classes maybe...)

While late Masses on a Sunday might give people "permission" to indulge themselves on Saturday nights, so then, by that logic, do Saturday night vigil Masses.

"Better Mass and better for your soul are two different things. Just as there are different ways of attending Mass – just standing/kneeling there, or standing/kneeling there in prayer preparing yourself to receive Our Lord."

I agree with you that better Mass and better for your soul are two different things - but the time of day does not make a Mass better for your soul. The time of day might help you to more properly prepare yourself to pray the Mass, but that can be said of both an early morning Mass and a Mass in the afternoon.

I attend Mass on a Sunday evening. I do this for two reasons: I am a sound sleeper and am inclined to sleep in (regardless of however early/late Saturday's revelries finished) and attending an early morning Mass would mean I would be sleepy, grumpy and inattentive throughout; and second, by attending Mass in the early evening, I can spend the day in preparation for Mass (I do this by praying, reading Christian writings, and spending time with family or close friends.)

"I think it's a good idea to start off with why we keep the Sabbath. It's not primarily about our convenience but honoring God and going to Mass is the main event."

I thoroughly agree with you, Elderly Relative.

"I think Aaron is basically right in his approach, because it mirrors a proper theological understanding of the priorities. While it's obviously true that the mass is the mass, it's not very helpful. If circumstances demand, it gives us some license in the matter of when we attend. But surely, if the whole day is oriented around mass, as it should be, then making it the first and main event should be the norm."

On the contrary, if the whole day is oriented around Mass, would it not make more sense to spend the day in rest and prayer in anticipation of the Mass? Otherwise, if Mass is simply the first thing one does on the Sabbath, then it can be easily viewed as a hurdle to be jumped.

"I think it's also important to say that to go, or not go, with your family is neither here nor there. We don't go to chuch to SIT WITH ANYONE, but to attend the holy mysteries."

I agree with you on this, but Aaron's post was about attending Mass in the context of his friends' estimations of his character and piety. In that, he appears more concerned about how the timing of Mass presents him with the greatest benefit. In that much at least, Aaron's concerns appear to be about which Mass is most convenient for his own needs.

Granted, I may have misread him totally - but the tone of his post is clearly about how he can most benefit from the Mass, rather than which Mass will enable him to give the greatest honour to God. (And in the latter case, the answer will vary depending upon the disposition, character and preparation of every. single. person.)

Remember that while the Sabbath is made for man, the proper subject of the Mass is not ourselves but Jesus Christ. The proper reason to go to Mass is to give thanks, praise and glory to God. We benefit from the Mass, true, but we do not go simply because we benefit. Our intention in praying the Mass is not - or should not be - selfish. (This is why I hate the language of "enjoying Mass." Mass is not about you alone - it is about you and Him. It is not a forum for entertainment, but a prayer. We refer to receiving the Eucharist as "Holy Communion" for a reason...)

Shan said...

Let me sum up my position: Jesus will not be more present at a Mass later in the day, but I will - and that's why I go in the afternoon. :)

Roman Pravda said...

Aaron,

the only reason you go home early on a Saturday night is not because you feel you need to attend the 9.30am Mass rather than the 6pm 'Youth Mass' but because you don't have the stamina to make it past 2am or that we have already put you in a taxi and given your address to the driver because you are generally not capable of giving directions at that time of the morning.

aaron said...

Whatever Sam, err I mean Roman. I was tempted to delete your post as it is not in any way true.

Shan, last year of high school and uni is tremendously different. Mainly you are now of legal age and you don't have yr12 exams breathing down your back. I'm not a "normal" student in anyway, but I hardly did anything social in yr 12. My saturday nights were spent watching the footy. But come uni...

You've got me thinking about Vigil Masses. I like them even less than Sunday evenings. But this time I will compile something with deep thought rather than a rush.

Then there is the matter of fasting...

DilexitPrior said...

I agree with regards to Vigil Mass. People shouldn't be going to the Vigil Mass unless they have serious reason that they can't make it to Mass on Sunday (people working necessary shift work jobs on Sunday such as doctors, nurses, etc...).

Elizabeth is so right right now said...

mm can i wade in with my 2 cents? i agree with Shan all the way. i was talking recently to a fabulous priest (Fr Paul Newton) about stuff that i think is similar, and he referred to the sort of immaturity of faith that says ok well these things are more important, so they must always trump everything else on my priority list. ie Mass is the high point of our faith, so nothing else can feature in our day. coz we are more complex than that, and our faith is fuller than that. there are so many aspects and facets to our humanity, and our social life is a huge one - God didn't put each of us in our own world, He put all of us in the one world, because we need each other. if i knew my Bible i could now pull out the ref for that part where Paul says "there is a time for this, and a time for that, etc". there is a time to party, and i think that Saturday night is probably that time. now obviously i'm not advocating that everyone get totally obliterated and rock up home at 7 am and then roll weakly out of bed for 5 pm Mass. everything must be done in the light of Jesus' presence and of our own holiness, so even when we party we can be (should be) getting holy. if you happen to be having a great time, thoroughly enjoying companionship, laughs, good food and drink, and all those other gifts God has given us alongside the Mass, then go for it, in my opinion.

As for morning Mass just being an inherently better thing, well i think Shan already covered that - it obviously makes sense to attend Mass at whatever point of the day that you feel you can assist best at it, and give God the most glory.

Re Vigil Masses, like i'm not pretending for a second to be an expert in liturgy or Church history, but as far as i understand, Vigil Masses have been a part of Catholic worship for a long, long time, celebrating the glory given by the Holy Women's Vigil at Jesus' tomb (there's probably more to it than that - anyone want to add?). there is a great deal of beauty, symbolism and meaning in the Vigil Mass, it's not just for those who are busy on Sundays. i think, dilexitprior, that you're not giving it enough credit at all - so long as parishioners are attending for the right reasons, acknowledging that meaning, then go for it.

Re the "9.30am Mass even if it means only 3-4 hours sleep" - errrr, what the?! you honestly think that going to Mass with that little sleep, and maybe even a blood alcohol level, is a good idea??

the Church offers such great diversity not only in worship, but generally in lifestyle and in the charism of everyday life. this is because we are all so gloriously different - the idea of a Catholic clone is just so wrong (on so many levels). obviously there are staples that we all must do - attend Mass, love the Eucharist etc - but we're not meant to be the same - go to the same Masses, pray at the same time, or even venerate the same Saints, etc. we need to acknowledge and embrace our wonderful diversity. our Catholic heritage is so deep and so rich...

and that's my sermon for the day :)

Elizabeth is so right right now said...

oh no, sorry, alas, i haven't finished yet!!

re "to go, or not go, with your family is neither here nor there. we don't go to chuch to SIT WITH ANYONE, but to attend the holy mysteries" - respectfully, Elderly Relative, i disagree. sure, i'm attending the holy mysteries, i'm focussing on God and God alone, but i think that it's also meant to be a community celebration. pleeeease don't get me wrong, i'm not a "Mass is all about community" Catholic, but the fact is that there is time for silent, lonely prayer (that whole closing the door and praying to your Father thing) and there is a time for community worship. to pray before Jesus, to participate in His Holy Sacrifice, to adore, to worship - together - as a family, as a couple, as a group of friends, as a faith community - is immensely beautiful. as i think i said earlier, we weren't made to have a relationship with God alone, we were made to have relationships with each other in God, and to cheapen that is to cheapen God's will for us. so i think that a whole range of things should factor into the choice of which Mass to attend on a Sunday (and it is a choice - the Church, in her wisdom, does offer us more than 1 Mass on a Sunday).

re "As for the malarky about not being a morning person, it strikes me as immensely self-indulgent." mm, for some people it surely would be self-indulgent, and their faith would probably have a more regimented expression, but not everyone has the same expression of faith (again as i was saying before about diversity), and the Church is here to bring everyone to their fullness and holiest, and also obviously to contain any excesses and to firmly guide everyone in the same direction. again, i'm not a fluffy God-is-everywhere-and-everything-is-wonderful Catholic (i don't think) but just compare the outlook and lifestyle of say St Therese of Lisieux and St Augustine? or even St Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine? so gloriously different. anyway sorry, back to the point, for some people it is not self-indulgent, but just allows them to do everything that fulfils their human nature - pray, love, enjoy companionship, party, work etc and you do most certainly need all those things in order to be fully human.

so yeah, i think there's a whole lot of different factors at play when an individual is deciding which Mass to go to, including (not in order of priority) - his family, the time at which he will concentrate best, the timing which is most significant to him (ie Vigil Mass, or morning Mass where he feels it ought to be the start of his day), etc etc. and i think they're all entirely legitimate considerations...

so yeah, go Jesus!!!!

aaron said...

Who would have thought the debate would turned into this... ??

Why don't we think about the Middle Ages, or even a later period than that. Do you really think there was Vigil Masses or Sunday evening Masses? You would have walked to Mass in the early morning having fasted since midnight.

Vigil and evening Masses are a modern convenience and thus should not be the preferential time to worship!

I wonder if Cypress III has an opinion on this - being a medievalist and all.

young-philothea said...

my seminarian friend once commented how he loves weekday and Saturday morning masses because the people actually want to be there. but weekday masses is obviously not Sunday mass. for me Sunday mass is mass. sometimes certain circumstances can't be helped and one misses morning mass, it's good to know that there's an evening mass to go to. whatever the reason is for that's between God and the sincerity of one's heart. I personally go to the night mass not because i can't get up early in the morning (since i regularly attend weekday morning masses) but because i help out with the youth mass.
UIOGD
(p.s. i 'stumbled' upon your blog through dilexitprior)

Elizabeth is so right right now said...

without putting any research and not too much deep pondering, i'd say that:
1) are you sure there were No vigil Masses in the Middle Ages?
2) in any case there's lots of stuff we now have that we didn't have in the Middle Ages - why are we trying to go backwards?? again, i don't think i'm a modernist, but i think it's only obvious that we progress in our understanding of things, and although the Church is, always has been and always will be infallible in its teachings through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that doesn't mean that in 2000 years it won't grow and clarify and deepen its understandings. i mean, cases in point are things like John Paul II's Theology of the Body (compared with the Augustinian view of sexuality that dominated Church thinking for parts of history), and various devotions like Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart, that weren't around at all 100-200 years ago (the Sacred Heart probably longer, i dunno) - and they're not just fluffy additions, they're serious meaty stuff.

besides, the mere fact that something was/was not done before is not an argument for anything. everything has its reasons; the faith we have is a rational one, let's not sell ourselves short here. to argue a point you must address contentions head-on, not just point to things done before and suppose they will speak for themselves...

DilexitPrior said...

Peace be with you all my friends and let's just not forget to get to Mass at some point between 4pm on Saturday and midnight on Sunday.

This is really just a debate of personal preference.

It reminds me of a discussion I had with someone at WYD last year. They were handing out little flyers saying that receiving communion on the hand was blasphemous. I took the flyer, read it, and asked the person if they were Roman Catholic. They said they were. "Oh good, I said, so you're obedient to the Magisterium?" They said they were. "Great, then I don't see what the problem is. I personally prefer to receive communion on the tongue, but that being said, if the magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church doesn't see a problem with people receiving on the hand, then I'll trust them on that."

So, while I said I don't think people should be going to the Vigil Mass unless they have just reason, I'm not saying there shouldn't be a vigil Mass. As for getting up in the morning to go to morning Mass as opposed to evening Mass? Well, as others have pointed out there are many factors to consider. I personally prefer starting the day with Mass, but this might not be the best choice for everyone.

Ok, that's all I wanted to say.

God Bless. You Aussies are fun. :-)

Shan said...

"Vigil and evening Masses are a modern convenience and thus should not be the preferential time to worship!"

To which I reply: Cars and automobiles are a modern convenience and thus should not be the preferential form of transportation. But what about the popemobile? Oh my! The Pope's a heretic!

Modern developments, even those which are (gosh!) convenient, are not ipso facto bad. Are outhouses to be preferred over indoor plumbing?

The only group I know who consider Vigil Masses controversial are the SSPX. While they deplore the "break with Tradition" of Vigil Masses, the SSPX themselves have broken with Tradition by withdrawing submission to the pontiff and are, therefore, simply modern Protestants. These misguided renegades need to be rebuked, admonished and prayed for - but their views ought be ignored.

Here's what the Church says on the topic:
"On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass. Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and aVairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.
"A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass [CIC Can. 1247-8 §1]."

Finally: the Easter Vigil is hardly a modern convenience. It is an ancient tradition of the Church, a beautiful act of worship, and in no way is it convenient (given that it can last for several hours!)

Elizabeth is so right right now said...

yeah! what he said!

and Dilexitprior, what you said too (good on you for being the conciliator ;) but i guess what i'm arguing for most here is not just that everyone should be free to make their personal choice (although obviously that too) but more that each choice (if made for the right reasons) ought to be recognised as equally holy and equally worthy. Catholics are very good at high horses (me no exception - and i have the nickname to prove it ;), but Jesus is Jesus and Mass is Mass, and the Church knows what she's doing, so, so long as we're each fulfilling our own individual vocation...

yeah good, i'll shut up now and sign off. cheers everyone.

elderly_relative said...

A number of points. First, the vigil at Easter is a Pius XII creation of the mid-20th Century. The only mass post midday known to the Western Church prior to that was the midnight mass of Christmas. Secondly, the notion of mass as a community meal is a wierd debasement of the idea of SACRUM CONVIVIUM, a sacred banquet, which is a secondary sense of what's entailed in the primary SACRIFICE. Family is a cosy adjunct, and as often a distraction, from the central event : a close encounter with the second person of the Trinity, and through Him Them.