A week or two back the clocks went forward with the approach of Summer. I regard the loss of an hour as the price we pay for warmer weather. But this time I entirely forgot. As a result I missed my favoured 8:15 Mass. This is a quiet affair with a mature congregation, and where by constant habit we have our accepted seats. Even the homily is usually comprehensible, although not inevitably inspirational. I had to choose another Mass and I picked the 5 pm which was likely to be reasonably brief.
But I was wrong. It turned out to be very full, and with a large proportion of young people – even if some of these were cavalier about time-keeping – continuous shuffling for latecomers was required. But my spirits were already dampened by spotting a little musical band and an adolescent choir in front of a board displaying several hymn numbers. I have no objection to singing in church; I do so quietly because, strangely to me, I am told that I cannot sing in tune.
It took something over half an hour to get as far as the Offertory. Even then many numbers, relating to the two large hymn books which had been provided, were still to come. I read them because the choir were not trained in the art of comprehensible singing. That was something of a shock. I had no idea how appallingly pedestrian Catholic hymns can be. Yes, I have written a little poetry, perhaps without much merit, but I would have been ashamed to have produced anything quite so puerile.
But I was glad to see the Offertory arrive, even though the words were stifled by more singing. But I had been fearful that the essential elements of the Mass would be omitted altogether. It was a relief to hear from the bell that they had not omitted the Consecration to fit in yet another hymn. I have to admit to getting out of the church as quickly as was consistent with my Sunday obligation. I needed to – in order to escape an occasion of sin..
An occasion of sin? Yes, I knew these were good people. I am sure they are sincere. More importantly perhaps, one of the largest churches in the London suburbs was filled to the gunwales with young people with and without their parents. And this is in a parish where there are eight Sunday Masses from which to choose. My bad temper was inexcusable. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.