On Sunday I skipped my usual attendance at the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary because a friend who is also a member there wanted to hear a Messianic Jewish speaker who was guest-preaching at Ottawa’s most well-known megachurch, the MET (or Metropolitan Bible Church) that has a big campus with a gym, an auditorium with the best audio-visual equipment, all kinds of ministries and small groups for every age level and so on.
So, first we went to Mass at a local Catholic parish that we knew served the Blessed Sacrament in both kinds. There are two great priests at this church, which was built post-Vatican II with the tabernacle in a side-chapel. I remember the first time going there wondering where to genuflect until I realized Jesus was in this separate chapel. The parish was obviously in deep vacation mode because there was a guest priest (who my friend said was a doppelganger for actor Richard Dreyfus), no music at all, not even an electric piano or a single guitar. The priest forgot the Gloria. (He needs B12 my friend who is a doctor opined).
I though he forgot the Alleluia before the Gospel, but I have since discovered that it is omitted when it is not sung. Oh well.
The homily was good. Folksy but challenging at the same time. He pointed out that whenever people asked Jesus “curiosity questions” such as how many will be saved? Jesus always turned it back to the questioner—never mind others, this is what you need to do to be saved.
But both my friend and I were grateful for our “liturgy Nazi” (after the soup Nazi on Seinfeld) of a priest at Annunciation. I have come to love the “spit and polish” in our beautiful liturgy and the discipline not only of our priests and altar servers (all male, btw) but of our congregation that responds in unison like a lusty choir.
Okay, then on to the MET. The service began with worship music played by a competent worship band with electric guitars, bass, drums and a good singer and leader. I noticed most of the people in the auditorium were not singing a long. Only maybe one out of a hundred at their hands raised in the air. So maybe I wasn’t the only one getting into a worshipful groove with that kind of music, I don’t know. Maybe the congregation is too full of former Catholics who never learned to sing along. (That’s a joke to go with the post below linking to Taylor Marshall about Catholics and megachurches). Anyway, I remarked to my friend I am so not moved any longer by this kind of worship music. In fact, I find the rock ‘n roll beat rather contrary to a worshipful state.
The sermon was most interesting though—all kinds of things I did not know linking Jewish festivals and teaching with the New Testament.
Then, in the evening, I took my son and his girlfriend to hear a rehearsal of the worship band for Sunday evenings, the “last chance” Mass in Ottawa at 8 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament. When we arrived, there was a row of votive candles along the raised area of the sanctuary. Otherwise the lights were off. It was still light enough outside that the stained glass windows, which are stunningly beautiful. This worship band had a more acoustic sound—acoustic guitars, electric piano, tambourines and conga drums and was much mellower and attractive to me. The band seemed to be worshiping as they rehearsed.
Then the lights came on and the altar party processed in.
Fr. Francis Donnelly, of the Companions of the Cross, celebrated the Mass and gave a rousing homily. Wonderful to hear him. He was our mentor priest for the months prior to our entering the Catholic Church and afterwards while we waited for our priest to be ordained.