You have been invited to a wonderful dinner by one of your friends and/or family. You had no worries about cooking the meal or going out that night, and were just able to relax and enjoy a nice home cooked-meal. As your host is walking in with the dessert that he/she spent an hour preparing, you get up, put your head down, cautiously never making eye contact, and quickly shuffle your way to the door and leave…Well that was rude. If you do that to my fiancé or me, I think I would say something along the lines of, “What the hell?” I mean it’s nice to leave all the dessert for the rest of us, but sometimes that one piece was really meant for just you or that kid that you’re dragging out by the hand. By the way, you forgot the most important thing of all, helping with the dishes. What a way to say thank you!
Where on Earth am I going with this?
I’m talking about Mass people! I’m talking about leaving before the final blessing, and dare I take it one step further, before the final hymn is over. I know, I know, that horribly long one to two minute song that is just oh so painfully cutting into YOUR SUNDAY. I want to relate it to something that should hit home, and explain why I feel the way I do about it.
You would never in a million years so rudely leave your friend or family’s house before dessert, and more than likely you would help with the dishes as well. I see the final blessing as our dessert. I see it as that final step to fulfill a weeklong void, which we have only been asked to fill once a week for one hour. Now, for you sly corporate smart alecks out there, you probably think, “Well, I would like to add about 30 minutes to that clock spent on drive time, thank you.” I don’t want to hear it, you’ll survive. You see, our priests and pastors spend an hour preparing our meal and then so graciously offer us a little extra, a blessing at the end. Something that helps us get through the week… and something that is meant for us to hear, and meant to nurture us. Just as you may have had a piece of pie for yourself and everyone else gathered at the table, maybe last week when you walked out, you missed out on that slice that was just for you. That one little line or phrase that was maybe solely for your ears, but you’ll never know. I don’t know about you, but if the big man upstairs has some Holy Spirit, or wisdom for me, I’m going to take every slice of that I can.
Now, as for helping with those dishes I was talking about earlier. After your amazing church staff has so graciously provided you with “dinner and dessert,” you should say thank you. They took even more time out of their day to serve you than you did to just show up. That choir singing their heart out every Sunday, remember them? How about you say “thank you” by hanging around for, never more than, 120 extra seconds of your life. Just be there, just remain and whether you sing or do the dishes or not, at least hanging around is a much better gesture than just high-tailing it out of there.
And for those that need proof, here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
CCC ¶ 2180 – The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass. The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”
This, to me, is a straightforward explanation that states that we are to attend and participate in the “Mass.” Not, half the Mass, not almost the whole Mass. “THE MASS.”
Oh, and if you still feel like it’s okay, this may change your mind – Judas was the first to leave the Last Supper right after our Lord presented the bread and wine, body and blood. The other apostles, they hung around the whole time, they showed a thankful appreciation, to He who prepared the meal.
Sorry for the rant… sometimes I just can’t help but feel sad with so many folks leaving early.