Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Take That Hat Off!

I came to church one Sunday morning and lingered for a bit in the vestibule before proceeding in to the church. Since I had just come in I still had my hat on. An older gentleman approached me and informed me "We don't wear hats in church." I pointed to the inner doors and informed him that when I entered the church I would indeed remove my hat. I remember feeling somewhat irritated. No one likes to be tapped on the shoulder and told that they are doing something wrong.

In a similar vein one of our young ushers attempted to get a young lady to remove her hat in church much to my amusement. It was a baseball cap and while I might fault her fashion sense, it was indeed a head covering. St. Paul does say that a woman should have her head covered... though I wonder if he might have found it as amusing as I did.

There are any number of people who like to tell us what to do in church for any number of reasons. Since the new missal was introduced our curate has been giving us hand signals. Fair enough... the liturgy has to have some order to it after all. One thing he has never done is tell me what to do after communion. He is a tad bigger than I am so it can't be that he is intimidated by my size or fearsome countenance. Perhaps he does not regard my behavior after communion as being all that important.

There are places, however, where standing, sitting or kneeling after communion has become the subject of some controversy. Somehow everyone doing the same thing at the same time is supposed to enhance my experience of something or other. I don't get it but mostly I don't worry about it. Apparently there are some who do worry about it... and there's the rub.

There are two sides to this little dilemma. On one hand there is the excessive formalism that forgets that the most important things that happen at mass are not visible. On the other hand there are those who are so concerned about doing the right thing that they worry and fret about something that should be a source of peace for them. In both cases a bit of charity is called for.

As for me... I still think I was right about wearing a hat in the vestibule... but quite wrong in my lack of charity towards the man who told me to take it off.

1 comment:

Barona said...

There seems to be a confusion out there between "private prayer" and "public prayer". The controversy over "standing" during Holy Communion is an example (that you also refer to). Holy Communion within Mass follows the simple rubric that you receive in a state of Grace !!! - and prior to reception (according to the canonical norms) make an act of reverence (e.g. kneeling, genuflecting, bowing, signing oneself --- did I miss anything!?). Beyond that, Holy Communion is a private action... yes, in Grace we are united with the Church (and yes, we are united with them whether we are sitting, kneeling or standing on our heads). The obsession within conformity to non-essentials is strange during a time of crisis. But, perhaps it is precisely this fixation on externals that forgets the internal and continues to lead the Church off the rails.