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Mass Out of the Ordinary

Recently my wife, Cindy, and I were out of town in different states. We of course went to different churches for Sunday Mass but had very similar experiences.

I would classify them as “weird.” In my case I attended Mass in Lexington, KY at Mary, Queen of the Rosary. I knew something was different when I had to ask an usher where the Tabernacle was. Turns out it’s not in the church proper or anywhere near the altar. It’s in a separate room across the hall. It’s a very tiny room with a couple kneelers in it. Kind of makes it hard for very many to visit with our Lord. And maybe even more telling was the fact that before Mass no one was in the little chapel with Jesus. Most people were yakking in and outside of the church.

Otherwise the church appeared pretty normal. But then we got to the Mass. Let’s just say that there were a several things that I found very distracting. First was the sign language dude right in front of the altar to one side. He was in to it with lots of waving of hands and arms and, well, you get the picture. Now, I could understand this if there were people seriously in need of this service. However, best I could tell, no one was watching him. Except me because it was new I guess. It gets better though. Prior to the readings the priest asked all the kids to come forward before being led away. I’ve seen this before and think it’s a travesty for those children. But he sits down on the altar steps with them I guess tried to pretend to be one of them for a couple minutes. Next up is his sermon after the Gospel. I knew it was going to be strange when he pulls a stuffed monkey out from underneath him and wraps it around his neck and starts telling a story about monkeys in the jungle. He wore it throughout his sermon. He put it away at the end with the comment that monkeys aren’t Catholic! Okay.

So while I was attending Mass in Lexington, Cindy was attending Mass in Plano, TX at Prince of Peace church. I think the design tells a story in and of itself with the round structure and flying saucer shaped disk suspended from the ceiling.

I’m going to ask her to add to this post with her experiences. Let’s just say, her story trumps mine.

*Post Update from Cindy*

I don’t know if it was the most unusual Mass I ever attended, but I have been to literally hundreds of Catholic churches all over the world and POP-Plano is by far the strangest church I have ever entered in my life. It was like walking into a piece of “modern” art – which makes it really hard to describe. Like art, I may not know much about it, but I know what I like and this was not it. You can get a general impression from the photo, but it was the stainless steel poles surrounding the perimeter and the donut hanging from the ceiling that really made it unlike any other church I have seen. They are very proud of their “award winning church,” according to the POP website, which gives a guided tour of their worship space. Apparently they have gotten some questions (no doubt) about the design and felt it necessary to explain them. Here’s an excerpt:

“Art and Environment in Catholic Worship” points out to us that what a church building looks like is not important as long as it facilitates the liturgical actions of the Community. When a design promotes good liturgy, it is successful. When it also includes beauty and simplicity it is a major event. We feel that we have combined both. This has been recognized by professional organizations and publications.

We present this “tour” with the prayer that it will help you understand the reasons behind some of the decisions made in the design process. We believe that our church reflects the wisdom that flows from the liturgical renewal affirmed by the Second Vatican Council.

About the “donut” floating on the ceiling – according to the website, “The canopy or “cloud” over the raised platform reminds us of the cloud that was a sign of God’s presence as the Israelites were led through the desert after their release from slavery to the Egyptians.” Ohhhhhhh, now I get it!

As far as the liturgy itself, it was of the normal liberal Catholic variety, nothing I really hadn’t seen before – but the church design itself will be hard to top in the “weirdest ever” category in my book. It’s also important to note that this was the closest church I could find to where I was staying near Dallas, in a new town called Prosper, and it was 18 miles away!

2 Responses to “Mass Out of the Ordinary”

  1. Saddend by your post
    September 25th, 2014 | 10:19 am

    It is very sad that you would post these stories as your “path to holiness.” How is it Holy to talk poorly about another parish that you are not a member of and have not been a part of. I would assume the point of visiting another church would be to be open to differences and to explore more deeply into another parish environment, to learn. What I see is a sad, and very rude, story that is derogatory and downright rude. Mary Queen Parish, just like all other parishes, has other traditions than yours, and just because you don’t understand it and it is not like your parish, you put it down. What a sad journey for you. I hope you are a little more open in the rest of your life and can grow to accept differences in people and parishes, and actually learn something from your visits versus taking the opportunity to put people, priests and parishes down and to mock your visits. Good luck to you!

  2. October 8th, 2014 | 8:19 am

    Hi whoever you are. Since you declined to identify yourself. I usually don’t post anonymous comments.

    I’m sorry you feel the way you do. The point of visiting another church is not to be open to differences. At least not the way I think you mean. This is the Catholic Church. I go to attend Mass and there are very clear norms for the Mass. When I see something this far from those norms it saddens me. I see them as an attempt to impose someone’s own ideas about how the Mass should be celebrated and in defiance at times of what the Church teaches.

    I learn a lot from my visits and certainly did here. If you had actually experienced what we did I wonder what your true reaction would be.

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