I sit down, and Mass begins, and very soon, for the thousandth time in my rumpled life, I am entranced by the simple human genius and theater of the Mass, the way it is a series of stories, a fabric of voices, a braiding of experience and witness, a commitment to the illogical and nonsensical. We have a sliver of bread and a sip of wine and we shake hands. A woman who doesn’t sing very well sings two songs and a man who doesn’t read very well aloud reads aloud. The shabby singing and ragged reading move me more than I can explain. As I get older it’s the small things that seem the biggest to me, and the fact that the singer can’t find the key and the reader mumbles seem unutterably sweet.
So goes a chapter in Brian Doyle’s new book, The Thorny Grace of It, And Other Essays for Imperfect Catholics. This book of essays unpacks what it means to be a rumpled person in a real community of faith.
Does this description of his ring true to your experience of Mass or church in general, or people gathering in general, to try to do good things?
I invite you to think about your ordinary experiences with others and linger on what makes these experiences human—and what makes them sacred.