Mass changes rob comfort in good way

| Carol Kozor | June 23, 2011 | 1 Comment

I will be the first one to tell you that I hate change. I believe that it is necessary, but I don’t have to like it. I also will be the first to admit that when it comes to things of faith, I really hate change. So when I started hearing that changes in the Mass responses were coming, I thought: “Really, do we have to? What’s wrong with the way it is?”

But then I have to stop and remember that changes have been made in the past — Latin to English, the priest facing the congregation, the expectation of the congregation being actively involved in the Mass, taking the Eucharist in the hand. Those were major changes in our Mass and they have been good ones.

Words are powerful. Words can build a person up or tear a person down. Words can inspire passion, excitement, love, hatred, joy and pain. Words can make the ordinary extraordinary, and isn’t that what we want when it comes to the Mass?

Yes, we want the Mass to be familiar and comforting. But we also want, even need, the Mass to be extraordinary. The thing I like the most about the Mass is its familiarity; we do the same thing every week. When I traveled to Rome several years ago, it was the familiar movement of the Mass that made it easier to follow since I didn’t know Italian.

It was that same familiarity that made it possible for me to be my niece’s sponsor for her confirmation, even though I didn’t know German. It truly is universal. This familiarity sometimes keeps people from the Mass — “It’s boring, we do the same thing every week.”

I have been involved in music ministry at All Saints [in Lakeville] for many years, and even here I have seen changes in what we sing, styles of music, instruments used.

The one change that has had the most influence on me is the psalm. Just the change in singing the psalm at the ambo on the altar changes the feel of the psalm. It became more than just a song between the first and second reading; it became a part of the Liturgy of the Word. I no longer just sing the psalm; I proclaim the psalm.

It was scary, and I kept wishing that I could stay and “hide” in the choir area. But the change has been good. It’s good because it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me stop and think. It raises the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Now imagine what can happen when the basics of Mass don’t change but only some of the responses we say. As these changes are introduced and we start to use them, it will be awkward and uncomfortable. Yes, we will be frustrated and want to go back to the old words; eventually, though, they will be familiar again.

In the meantime, maybe it will stop us in our tracks and make us think again about what we are saying. That is good! We will realize that we have new words, deeper meaning, but ultimately the same Mass. The ordinary can become extraordinary again and again.Isn’t that what we want?

Carol Kozor is a member of All Saints in Lakeville.

Category: Commentary