Today is the day on which we Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s a day of holy obligation. I know this, because the priest said so last Sunday. (For you non-Catholics, this means that there is a mass said during the week that we Catholics are supposed to attend – this particular one is in honor of the Virgin Mary’s conception without sin.)
If I had been unaware of the holy day coming up mid-week, I would have missed the mass with no regrets. Since I knew about it, I felt like I would have to make the effort to hit up one of the masses. Yesterday, I checked out the mass schedules for my church at home and the one close to my office. Both of them had vigil services (held the night before the holy day) at 7pm Tuesday, or 7am masses on Wednesday. I decided to get up early (shocking!) and go to my local church so that I wouldn’t miss the Christmas episode of Glee. Yes, I know I’m pathetic (but, I LOVE that show!).
This morning, I did manage to wrench myself out of bed earlier than normal (more shocking!), and made it to my church by 7:08am. I was feeling pretty good about that as it was not too late (for me). I walk through the rain, through the double doors into the narthex (or nave – I looked up the definitions, and I’m still confused) and see the very sparse scattering of people sitting in the pews. Entering the inner double doors, I hear the priest speaking to the congregation.
Uh oh…he’s not reading. Is that… Could it be… Yes, he’s already performing the homily! How is that possible? Mass only started at 7am, right? Now I’m convinced that everything I saw had the wrong mass times listed, and while I sit through the rest of mass I hear my grandfather saying that if you miss the Gospel you have to go again.
After the end of mass, I checked the mass times printed on the sign in front of church. Yep, 7am for daily masses. In confusion, I turned around and asked the elderly woman behind me what time mass started. She told me it started at 7am. That priest must be the fastest reader on the planet! He read all 3 readings, plus the opening prayer and responsorial psalm, in 8 minutes! (This guy needs to do the weekend masses…) I was back in my car at 7:36 am – no kidding!
So, now I’m torn. Even though I would have felt no guilt at missing the entire service if I hadn’t known it was today, now I feel like I should try to go to one of tonight’s masses because I missed the beginning this morning. The lady I spoke to about the start time told me in a hushed voice to just read the readings at home (I wonder if she thought the priest would hear her if she said it any louder). I already read the readings while the church was silent during the preparation of the gifts… I really don’t want to go back tonight, because the evening mass is at 7pm, and I’d miss the last half of my Weight Watchers meeting (they’re still explaining the new program, which I stayed on all week and hope to see the results tonight!).
Did I mention that the 7pm mass at the church nearest my WW meeting is in Spanish? Forget it! I’ll just live with the guilt. I do it daily anyway!
On the up side, I got to work extra early today...