Monday, December 14, 2009

Horizontal transmission

How much do you believe? Do you trust God? Where do you draw the line between relying on your faith and using "common sense"?

I bring all of this up because the bishop of my diocese has made an official statement that we should not hold hands during mass.

At first it didn't seem like big deal. However, going to mass alone has made me realize how important a faith community is. It's a place where you trust others just because they have made the same commitment that you have. You come to say, "I believe," and this creates a unique bond between you. You trust these other people to value this personal, private thing that is your faith.

But is being present together enough to make a connection? The mass has always been a social sacrament, designed for a group of people to celebrate together. Father Mayzik always called mass a meal that we were sharing. This was easy to imagine when we experienced it in a small, 10-20 person group on Sunday nights, with the lights dimmed, passing around the dish during communion. But how to translate that into a well-lit church on Sunday morning, filled with 300 people? We share our faith but avoid each others eyes.

That is, until we come to the Our Father, and join hands to pray, lifting them at the end of the prayer. Until we come to the kiss of peace, telling each other, "Peace be with you." It is a moving experience, this simple wishing of good things to others which you do not know in the "outside world". You make a connection. You say hello, we are both children in faith.

Now when I go to mass, I am alone. I go by myself, pray by myself, and leave by myself. I never thought that those two minutes of contact each would mean so much. But they somehow transform the entire experience from something solitary to something that makes you part of a larger whole.

So I ask, is it really worth giving this up, to avoid making contact with our fellow human beings?

No comments:

Post a Comment