i am back, living in my parents house after more than a year in an apartment wit my wife. there are 2 parish churches near my parent’s house where i now reside (again). i cannot stand to hear mass in either.
one church is right next to a major uphill road. you can hear every tricycle staggering upwards, every car horn, every loud, rattling engine outside the church. it’s VERY difficult to pray. add to this the fact that the priest presiders in this church have nothing much to share. their homilies are recycled crap that goes around in circles. their tone is often condescending. i have seriously wanted to walk out on several occasions but had to stop myself by thinking, what would Christ have done?
years ago, i joined a choir here and didn’t stay too long. the members were too fond of singing (and they were GREAT singers too!) but they couldn’t sit still and respect the MASS. they were too bust talking. sigh. sayang sila. though that choir is now probably non-existent (I havent seen them), the extant choirs here are okay. not as undisciplined as the one i joined. however, despite the fact that i was looking for a choir to serve with, nothing moved me to sign up.
the other church is the Santo Domingo of our area. i think they have 10 masses every sunday. and each mass is full. the church is huge. often people are attending mass, standing outside. though more often than not, they are just sitting around chatting with friends. which irritates the hell out of me.
the priests here have whole lot more to share. and they have nice homilies. well prepared. not too dramatic.
problem is : i was a choir director in this church for well unto 6 or 7 years. I know almost every choir, every guitarist, every director. and i used to bust my ass to teach new songs, provide chords to all other musical directors, even offer to make transparencies for them. guess what?
most of the choirs here are back to singing the same songs they used to sing even before i joined. parang naging useless ako. some don’t even bother to make transparencies for the overhead projector, even though the projector screen is as wide as the entire center aisle…. there is no effort to encourage the congregation to sing with the choir. most all of them treat the mass as a concert. and it pisses me off. you can imagine how unready I am then to hear mass. How can you pray when you’re pissed off? when you remember all the humiliations you had to stomach just so new songs could be introduced, only to find that no one sings them anymore anyway? when you feel 6 or 7 years of your life produced no discernible result? in fact, i heard the choir i used to personally play piano for kicked out their choir head, and now sing new songs without trying to teach them to the congregation. sigh.
so i went in search of other churches, other faiths even. i NEEDED to find a sunday service i could pray with, somewhere I could feed my spiritual hunger.
never mind if it’s not Catholic.
i returned to a Baptist church my wife and i would attend on some sundays when we wanted a change of pace. fantastic sermons. fantastic choir. but i didn’t feel too comfy.
i attended a friend’s born again church. ultrafantastic pop music because they had a full band setup: drums, bass, guitar, keyboards. loved the music. cried at the sermon. i realized why: the pastor was talking about a painful personal experience he had with his wife. catholic priests don’t have wives. guess who has more life experience to draw from which will connect him with the congregation? (of course this point is debated ad nauseaum, and i don’t intend to debate it, just present my point of view). what he shared made sense and hit me in the gut. and i loved that there was enough time in the service to go over the readings while he was explaining them. sure, his “reading” of the verses were probably very biased and very personal. but it helped me pray. and open the Bible again. made me realize how “RUSHED” our masses are because every parish has to make them fit in an hour or an hour and a half. there’s no TIME to digest the Word of God.
and yet i missed the wonderful traditions which endear me to the catholic church. the idea that the sacred rituals you repeat every week have been in place since time immemorial. that you are a part of a centuries-old CHURCH.
EDSA shrineso one saturday after shopping in greenhills, i end up, quite by accident, at the EDSA shrine. i decide to enter for a while before going home. turns out there is a 7pm mass in 10 mins, and so i decide to stay.
what immediately struck me was the air of holy silence pervading the place. aside from the fact that people weren’t chatting, the enclosed area insulated the place from the sound of the traffic along EDSA.
this thought struck me: this isn’t your local neighborhood parish church which people will go to because it’s near their house. people come here because they want to, not because it’s convenient. then the priest was succinct, concise and intelligent. thank GOD for small favors.
the choir was okay. the tough part was that they were singing to sequenced MIDI tracks on the church’s keyboard . wala silang instrumentalist. so when they had to stop a song from being too long, someone would have to fade out the sequenced tracks. sayang. they had heart though.
and that to me counts for a lot.
i don’t care if a choir technically sounds like the UP Madrigals…. if the choir can’t sing and mean it, then that choir is crap. this choir I heard was miles away from any awards in technical excellence but you could see and hear they were trying their best…. and i LOVED that.
and something moved me to approach them and ask if they wanted a pianist. guess what the answer was?
i now play piano for the 7 pm Saturday (anticipated) mass at the Edsa Shrine.
the moral of the story:
if you’re not happy with your parish church/choir/faith life/etc….
then stop complaining, get off your fat, lazy ass and do something about it.
go find your happiness. forget convenience. exert effort so that you can attend a meaningful Sunday service no matter what faith you may believe in.
wallowing in your own bile, anger and hostility is for losers.
sticking to your parish church even when you can’t concentrate, or are pissed off by the homilies … well, it;s definitely not going to help you create a healthy relationship with GOD.