Sunday, May 08, 2005

As we're staying at my parents this weekend, I popped down to a church near them for mass this morning. Like most English Catholic Churches it was quite modern, but still an attractive brick building. It was also full which was lovely to see and filled with as fine a mix of people of all races and ages as you could ever expect to find, certainly in South West London.

But I do have one major gripe. Why is it that Catholic Churches do not hand out an order of service to the congregation? I'm away from home and don't have my missal on me, so could have done with a primer. And what if someone who was not a Catholic at all wandered in. How would they have a clue what was going on? Worse, the service was quite a freewheeling version of the mass with songs and chants substituted for many of the prayers. A good deal of audience participation was expected. I, a convert, was lost. If you attend a Church of England service, you will always be given an order of service but not at a Catholic Church. This is a mistake. If a church wants newcomers to feel welcome then it should not make them have to advertise themselves by asking for an order of service. Not handing them out makes the mass seem to a private club instead of a ritual open for all, even if not all can take communion.

So, if your Church doesn't hand out an order of service, perhaps you should find out why and suggest that it would be a cheap and effective way of reaching out.

Comments or questions? Post them at Bede's dedicated yahoo group.

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