Last night I went to a backyard Mass at an old friend’s house. I think that backyard Mass should be almost exactly how regular Sunday Mass should be.
For starters, we were all there because we were personally invited. The atmosphere was cozy and laid back… there was no pomp and circumstance where pomp and circumstance was not due. We were at home (literally), surrounded by trees and unexpected guests (raccoons!!). The people there were neighbors to the most literal sense. I saw a lot of faces that I haven’t seen in quite some times. Not everyone there was Catholic. The homily was open to the community to take part in (which was kind of awkward, and I wished Fr. would have given some kind of structure to it, but oh well). Nobody sat in the front row… which was funny and oh-so-Catholic. The entire event was a celebration. We had name tags to make introductions less awkward (like if I should have known someone because they’ve been my neighbor since I was 5, but naturally, since I never interacted with them, I have no idea who they are, but they know who I am, the name tag helped), there was lots of casual conversation beforehand between everyone, and there was food and drink after and more casual conversation.
It felt like a big family reunion.
And that’s how Mass should be every week. Even down to the simplicity of the backyard. Mass doesn’t need to be a Hollywood production. It needs to be real. And that… that backyard Mass was the most real Mass I’ve experienced since the days I celebrated daily Mass with the monks at St. John’s.
The topic of the homily revolved around us sharing our experiences with the Church… why we’ve stayed, and why we haven’t, and what drew us back, and what is pushing us away. I wanted to share, but chickened out because there were just so many people there who know me or who don’t really know me but think they do.
So why have I stuck with the Church? I almost left the Church a couple times. It was ultimately guilt that made me go to Mass every Sunday. I’ve gone to Masses at school sometimes where I felt so suffocated by my questions that I had to leave and be with God out under the stars or near the lake. I figured as a Theology major, I would grow closer to God (which I’m not denying… I have grown closer to God). I just never expected such a hard journey with my questions. The more I learned about the Bible and about my religion, the more unsure I became about what I believed. I sought confirmation and found more questions. Ultimately, I realized that I ain’t no quitter, and I made a promise at my confirmation to stick with God through thick and thin, and I made a promise to question and seek real answers and to never give up on the fight. I stick with the Church because that’s where I belong… that’s where my family is. I know God is still God even when I don’t think God exists. I have told God that I don’t think he exists. I’ve always been proven wrong… whether it’s through my family or my friends, or a book I’m reading or a TV show I’m watching or whatever it is that I’m doing daily. I bother with the Church because it bothers me.
Do you bother with the Church? Why? Why not? If you don’t bother with the Church, what *do* you bother with?