Today at our simple, brisk but reverent morning Mass, I was suddenly struck with how hard it must be for a non-Catholic Christian to go to Mass for the first time.
When you come in, you put your finger in holy water and cross yourself but you don't say anything. Then you go to a pew and you don't sit down, you kneel a little. How long? Then you sit down. Then you stand up. Then you cross yourself and this time you say something. Then you answer the priest. You know all the words.
You strike your breast during another prayer everyone seems to know without a book. You stand, you sit. By golly, you burst into song! How did you know? You make a little rubbing motion on your head and mouth and chest. Up, down, up, down and then someone knows to get up and take the gifts to the priest. NOW you throw kneeling into it! A bell? Again? And everyone knows the damn words!
No wonder they feel like they stick out! They wouldn't believe you if you said that you wouldn't notice if they were a beat behind everyone else, or if they flipped back and forth through the missalette, which they can't figure out how to use.
I bet they feel like a million-watt light is on them, even in a crowded church in the back row, or even an empty, dim church in the back row.
Pray for these people. Pray that you be given the grace and the warmth to offer to go with them, or sidle up to them, or suavely catch up to them after Mass and introduce yourself.
The Virginian by Owen Wister
12 minutes ago