I was at Mass this morning, but in some ways my mind and heart were not there.
It was the last Sunday of the season for the regular Sunday choir, with which I play guitar and sing.
At the end of the Mass, Father announced that we would be taking our regular summer break, and he called for a round of applause for us.
I'm not a big fan of applauding at Mass, particularly for people serving in a ministry. Do we applaud the lectors? The Altar servers? The Deacon reading the Gospel?
Still, it's not something I'm prepared to go to the mattresses over. (Yes, a Godfather reference!)
But I was thinking about a conversation I'd had just a couple of days ago with the leader of the other liturgical group with which I play, Rock of Faith, a contemporary ensemble. (Yes, I know, that uptempo style of music is not to everyone's taste, but the group is always announced in advance so that people can choose to go to a different Mass.)
He called to tell me he had resigned.
There were a variety reasons, some related to changes at work, the amount of time being the director requires, and so on.
But there were also parish/ministry related ones. There have been some unpleasant moments involving staff and parishioners, and more were in the works for next year. There was also a sense of a lack of appreciation for the group and his efforts to keep it running well.
As I sat there listening to that applause for the choir today, I thought back to last week, the last of the season for Rock of Faith.
There had been no acknowledgement of the group at the end of Mass or an announcement that we would be off for the summer. No call for applause. Not even a thank you.
Probably just an oversight, but fitting in with some of the things the director said.
The thing is that without him, the group will basically cease. He picked the music. He met with parish staff. He was a skilled musician who was good at arranging. He dealt patiently with the personal dynamics both within the group, and in our relationship with the parish. He spent long hours to make sure that we were a good group, that the music was appropriate, and that we added something to the worship. And there's no one else within the group who has the ability or the time to duplicate all that he has done for the past five years.
So there's a good chance the group will simply not be able to continue.
I was thinking about that, and my own commitment to the regular Sunday choir. Part of me was wondering if it's time for me to move on from that as well - which would mean today was my last time with them.
I haven't decided yet, but it was on my mind during Mass - instead of on the Mass. Mea culpa.
And then there were the Prayers of the Faithful. We prayed again for the people of Syria who are being slaughtered by government forces. I have no problem with that: The situation is terrible. We do need to pray about it.
But then I realized there were no prayers about the slaughter of the innocents going on here in the U.S.
We should be praying about abortion every week.
Not only because of the power of prayer to change things, but also because those prayers provide moments to teach. The more people hear about such issues, the more likely they are to realize how wrong our nation's policies are.
As I packed up at the end of Mass, I kept wondering if I will be back at this parish as a musician.
Or even a parishioner.
Pax et bonum