June 8-9, 2019

Jun 3, 2019

Greeting Before Mass 

Those who think about what makes liturgy an uplifting experience, often point to three “H’s” – the hymns, the homily, and the hospitality of the community. So many people find these to be either especially helpful or especially disappointing. If the homily connects with their lives, and if they feel welcomed and valued by the others with whom they gather, and if the music touches their spirits, they might say something like, “I feel like I’ve been to Church.” If the music or the homily is poor and nobody seems to care if they are there or not, then that is a different story. They might not come back. Any one of those experiences can make a difference and might even change a person’s life. I remember someone telling me that he went to Church and no one said anything to him. No one seemed to care. He never went back to that or any Church. 

Your preachers work on preparing their homilies; we pledge to continue. Our music director works hard to choose appropriate songs. Our music is often praised and our 10:00 Mass choir and cantors do an outstanding job. 

Hospitality is something that rests with all of us. I remember my 8th grade teacher telling us that when we are in church, we should not know or even care about the person next to us! That felt wrong then and even more so now. After all, the great commandment is to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. 

I remember a line from a US Bishops’ document on the liturgy: Liturgy thrives in a climate of hospitality. How do you respond when you see a new person at Mass? Do we only talk with the same friends after mass? We might be warm and friendly (to those we already know), but do we genuinely welcome others; do we go out of way to greet, meet, or invite a new person into conversation? 

I am challenging us to work hard at creating an intentional climate of hospitality here at Transfiguration Parish. Archbishop Vigneron in Unleash the Gospel even calls us to an “unusually gracious hospitality.” Can we make this a hallmark of this community? Perhaps you could try to meet a new person each week -- just be careful not to assume that they are “new” to the parish; it might just be that they usually go to a different mass. They may be long time parishioners you just have not yet met! 

To help this process, we will be introducing a new practice when we return to Ordinary Time on June 29/30. Just before each Mass, the lector will go to the ambo and greet you. He or she will invite you to meet and greet the people around you. Introduce yourself. Acknowledge the people around you. We really hope that you will meet a new person and learn their name. Share a “good morning,” or “good afternoon.” Smile. Shake a hand. Maybe give a hug or a fist bump. This is a little different than the sign of peace, where the goal is to wish peace! The goal here is to meet one another. The Music Director will then announce the opening song and mass intention as usual and we will begin Mass. We believe -- and hope -- this simple practice will help make our liturgy thrive even more in an intentional climate of welcome and hospitality. 

Fr. Jeff