Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Surprising Visit to the College Campus Mass

You unlock this door with a key of imagination
Beyond it is another dimension
A dimension of sound
A dimension of sight
A dimension of mind
You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance
Of things and ideas
You've just crossed over into...

...The Twilight Zone!

Hoo, boy. Talk about alternate reality.

I live near one of the Top Ten universities and in a city where everyone is "nuts" about college football. In an O-H area that loves to scream I-O. Okay, I think you've got it.

Since I'm working on reaching Catholic college women, I thought the logical place to meet them would be at the Catholic ministry center's Sunday service. I know. It's a stretch, but I was game for the challenge.

How little I know.

So out the door I went with my favorite aqua, teal, and cobalt blue scarf on my head, wondering what Mass would be like. I had already been forewarned by a friend that I'd probably "hate" it. I knew it would likely be more "progressive." I suspected I'd have to deal with a large worship team and a legion of EMHC's traipsing up to the altar during communion.

Well, I wasn't wrong on those counts. What I was wrong about was the idea I'd meet young Catholic students at the service. You know who was there? Older people. As in "over 60." The majority of the people there were over 55 years old. I'd say they were 80% of the group. The priest looked like he was 70 years old (but probably was more around 62). In the area I was sitting, I could count on both hands the number of typically aged college students (those between 18-25).

The interior was more a rec hall than a church. Plenty of ugly plastic chairs. No kneelers in sight. Everyone stood during the consecration. My friend was right. I didn't like it.

Then there was the issue of "gender-inclusive" language. When we were reciting the Nicene Creed, instead of saying, "By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man," they said "became flesh." For the love of pete. Then later, during the Consecration, there was a part where "Him" should have been said but they said "Christ" instead. Go figure.

Right now, my husband and I are about to take a bike ride, but I'll blog more later about what was talked about during the homily.

And after all these years, it still feels weird to me when people clap during a Catholic Mass...


Dymphna said...

There's something about college masses. I guess it depends on the school. I went to the chapel at Georgetown University as was shocked to the core by the weird altar and couldn't find the Blessed Sacrament at all. On the other hand, my husband and I went to the student mass at William and Mary Universtity and were thrilled at the earnest way mass was celebrated and the seriousness of the college kids. Georgetown is a "Catholic" school. William and Mary was founded by Protestants. Sigh.

Unknown said...

I work at a Catholic University in Ohio, and we attend one of the masses on campus every Sunday. It is run by students and well attended. Students take a very active role in Campus Ministry, retreat planning, etc.

Mary Rose said...

Dymphna, agreed. Some college campuses have wonderful student involvement and ministries. I may still check on the Saturday night Mass to see if there are more college students attending. Actually, they have some type of "social night" during the week I may attend instead. :-)

Annie, I have a feeling your may be talking about U.D.? If so, I used to go to school there my first two years at college. They did have a nice Mass at their chapel and plenty of student involvement. I'm not sure if it is the same, but that was my memory of college Mass.

Great jewelry, by the way! I love the name, "St. Dwynwen's Keep." Very nice!

Unknown said...

Two questions:

1) What time was the mass? We have a 10am Sunday mass which "the community" aka older folk come to and an 8 pm & 9:30 pm mass that are both usually packed with students. You may have just gone to the wrong mass.

2) Was it a Jesuit school?

I ask because I have noticed that Jesuit campuses have their own traditions.

On my campus we don't kneel during consecration, but rather bow when the gifts are presented (which is something done in African Catholic churches.) It's also not customary to kneel after receiving the Eucharist. Most people stand, though I and some of the other more traditional older students, as well as the baby freshmen who don't know any better kneel.

It's one of the many reasons I have started my search to find a home parish while I'm at school. :)

Pax Christi, Rebecca.