This morning I cantored Mass, and the theme for the entrance hymn was a great reminder for why I’m doing this blog, as it centered on these 40 days—40 days to move in a stronger or renewed direction toward Christ.
Looking down from the choir loft (in our church we cantor overlooking the naive of the church, facing the altar), I can see the entire church family, which means that I can see who comes early as well as who comes, well…not so early. And it sometimes saddens me to see all the pews that remain empty, testament to those who don’t come at all.
I split my time between two locations, attending two different churches depending on where I am at a given point in the year.
At my “summer” church, I don’t cantor, yet even without a lofty bird’s eye view of the congregation, I can see when pews are empty there, too, maybe indicating the lure of sand and surf was a bit more pressing than the call of God to worship. Sitting in the pews, I don’t want to sit in judgement, as I did my own share of skipping out on God for quite a long while before coming back to the Church.
But, like this morning, what I now try to think about is the idea that for those who come to Mass, who are coming to celebrate the Eucharist, our finest gift given to us through Chirst’s crucifixtion, each is in communion with those around them. I like to think that we come each Sunday not because we are required to by Catholic precept but because we, though many or few, are in search of oneness with not just God but one another and what we are hopeful for in our faith.
When I cantor, and before we begin recitation of the Creed, I’m often surprised at the small swell in attendance that’s taken place in the few minutes since Mass began. In the past this irritated me as I wondered why people can’t get to Mass on time, until I realized that whatever the reason a member of my church family may be coming late is not the issue, but rather I need to recognize that they are there—we are all together—giving God our time.
When I am in pain, when I am discouraged, I can often find complaint in feeling “alone” with no one really caring what’s going on inside me, and I run the risk of thinking of myself as being just one and insignificant in God’s eyes.
Those are the times when I need to open my own eyes to the members in my parish, each of us in our daily lives possibly seen by others as insignificant, if lulled by the pessimistic voice of society. In truth, there is power in oneness. Read the words of the hymn “One Bread, One Body”:
One bread, one body, one Lord of all; One cup of blessing which we bless. And we, though many, throughout the earth, We are one body in this one Lord.”
As we assemble in church, I need to keep account that it’s through the “ones” that we are many, whether we come on time or are a bit tardy.
For God, it’s never too late.