Yesterday I attended a Special Needs Mass for our diocese. Despite the fact that it was rather schooly, I enjoyed the opportunity to pray for our boys and to reflect on the challenges and joy they bring to our family.
The Mass was celebrated at the church attached to my primary school . Every time I enter this church memories come flooding back! Just being there is enough to transport me back to the feelings of my childhood.
As I waited for Mass to begin I noted that the noise level from chattering people was quite high. This would never have happened in my day! Both the nuns who taught us, and our parents instilled in us the virtue of respect and silence when in church. We simply did not talk once we entered the doors of the church. Or if we did, we paid for it! I recall our class lining up to face the principal and her leather belt in year three, as we returned from Mass. We had chatted through Mass, and so we received 2 or 3 smacks across the hand as punishment. We knew that the church was a sacred and holy place where Jesus dwelt in the Blessed Sacrament. In the 25 years since I left primary school, people seem to have lost respect for Jesus in the tabernacle. Many people talk and to few acknowledge Jesus by genuflecting or bowing.
After communion I even saw a teenage boy remove the Blessed Sacrament from his mouth, on the way back to his pew. He then slowly ate the Host with his fingers whilst sitting in his seat, next to his parents! Other braver souls then me would have approached this boy and told him why what he was doing was so offensive to them. Alas, I was not that brave soul. Like, Saint Peter, I am a coward. I did however resolve that if he placed the Blessed Sacrament in his pocket, I would not sit still.
Attending this Mass left me feeling somewhat distressed and saddened. The chatter and disrespect of the Blessed Sacrament leads me to believe that we've failed. We've failed to hold people accountable to their faith. I explain it to my children this way.
If you were in a room with the Prime Minister, and he was at the head of the room quietly waiting to speak to you and the other people assembled, you wouldn't turn your back on him to have a conversation with the person next to you! In our Catholic churches, Jesus is physically present and waiting to speak to you. Some people has lost sight of how amazing that is! Should we not give him all our attention and respect. After all He is the same God that created the universe and holds it in existence by His will. As a priest in our diocese once said, if you don't believe that Jesus is physically present, then go, because you're not Catholic.