Saturday, October 16, 2010

Catholic Mass

Tonight I attended my first Italian Catholic Mass. Well, it was in English, but it was in Italy, so that counts, right?

The mass was held in the chapel of Brunelleschi's dome, and I only wish I could've taken pictures. The dome ceiling was beautifully painted and all the surrounding chapels in the church were decorated and wonderful.

I am not a Catholic, so I haven't attended very many Catholic services, but this one seemed a bit rushed. There was no singing, and the whole service only lasted 45 minutes. However, it was still a cool experience, and I'm glad I went.

I'm not sure what the core message of the priest's sermon was, because he rambled a bit. He started talking about remembering God always, even in times of distress or celebration. Then he went on to talk about Peter walking on water to meet Jesus, and how we are like Peter in that God is always the one who will catch us when we fall, but we have to call out to Him and do our part by putting our hand out so God can catch our hand and help us up. And then he ended by talking about faith, and how even having a little bit of faith is better than none at all, although I'm not sure where he was going with the last part.

I couldn't take communion because I'm not a member of the Catholic church, but I'm sure the wine was excellent, since this is Italy, after all.

What I thought was most interesting, however, (and this could be with all Catholic churches, I'm not sure) was the absence of Bibles among the congregation. I feel like having the text in front of me adds to the message of the sermon, as well as helps me remember it better, but not only were the passages merely read aloud, they were not discussed during the mass. Rather, the Biblical verses served as context from which the priest began his sermon. And all of the recitations seemed to have lost meaning to the congregation, and the people were taking pride in the fact that they were a part of the exclusive group who could say the right words, rather than meditating on what they were saying and saying the words with conviction. One of my roommates (who is Catholic) said that 90% of Italy is Catholic, but only 30% are active members. After attending this service, I wonder what percentage of the 30% truly believe in what they... well, what they believe in.

I suppose I am mostly just ignorant about Catholicism in general, but it seems difficult to enrich your faith when everything is scripted. I'm glad I went to this mass, because it's such a big part of the culture, but I don't think I'll be converting any time soon.


  1. Interesting...I've never been to a mass myself, but I've always been interested in how that works. The problem with rush/lack of relevance is a familiar one, but, to be fair, not by any means confined to Catholics. Probably is most obvious with them, though, since they've been doing more or less the same thing for much longer than the rest of our denominations have even been around...

  2. I agree and don't blame them for the rush - they were on a crunched time schedule and needed to get us in and out as quick as possible so they were ready for the next service.

    But because it's been around so long, there's got to be something that keeps people faithful and brings more people in, otherwise it would've died out... right?