‘illegal’ Catholic mass:
About 100 people belonging to a lay Catholic association
used the rooms to watch some inspirational videos and have a potluck
lunch together. Oh, and horror of horrors, they sang songs and held a
Mass behind closed doors. Then everyone went home. End of story. Or so
it seemed. Except that seven months later, in April 2010, Celani received a $144 ticket for having allowed the Mass to take place.
By so doing, she had broken a bylaw that prohibits “cultic” activity
such as “praying, singing religious songs or conducting religious
celebrations.” Under the same regulations, interestingly, renters are
allowed to serve liquor provided they have the necessary permits. They
are forbidden, however, from using propane tanks to cook inside the
building. So, you can get hammered in La Maison du Brasseur. You just
can’t blow the place up or mention God.
Joe Carter sees this as a bad thing. Actually there is another side of the coin. Most of us would shrug off such religious activity as the eccentricity of some folks and fairly benign. And isn't that the problem? It is not benign. Christian worship, especially the Divine Service (Liturgy) is a radical act. It is not some inconsequential activity but the very domain in which God does His work, bestowing upon His called and chosen the very gifts of the cross and empty tomb. I don't mind so much when the state gets all hot and bothered by this -- at least not as much as I do mind the fact that most Christians do not excited at all.
It reminds me of an overheard conversation in the Narthex one Sunday. "Did I miss anything?" asked the member who had been absent a couple of weeks. "No." said the faithful member who had been there every Sunday. Nothing missed -- no acolytes puking in the chancel or hosts dropped down the blouses of buxom communicants or chalices spilt upon unsuspecting children awaiting a blessing or dogs walking down the aisle or people in the pews passing out or unplanned notes from the organ or choir or someone forgetting to turn on the coffee maker or the lights going out or the firemen showing up in false alarm or any such other extreme church activity. "Ahhhh, didn't think so..." said the absent member.
Gosh no, you did not miss God resident among His people according to His promise, sins forgiven, the captive set free by the Gospel, the devil cast out of the baptismal candidate, the death and resurrection of the baptized, the angels joining our chorus of "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus" with the saints, the body of Christ in bread and the blood of Christ in wine... Lord, knows, you did not miss much.
Maybe it will take the restrictions of the state to remind us of the radical nature of Sunday morning.... cause many of us sure are not listening to the Word or the liturgy in which this radical nature of the Divine Service is made known to us...