You know who you are. You hope that no one sees or recognizes you, but everyone does. You are the habitual “leave mass right after taking the Eucharist” Catholic parishioner. I despise these people.
All God asks of his flock is to surrender one measly hour of their time each week to be in His presence. Yet, some can’t even seem to do that. As the rest of us are either waiting to join with our Savior and partake in His glory or quietly praying after receiving Him, these seemingly uber-busy individuals file back through the church and head for their car. While I watch them, I often think to myself, “wow, these people are SO friggin’ important to the world that it can’t go more than 45 minutes without them. I wish the world needed me that much”. [/sarcasm]
Seriously though, what is the hurry? At my parish, St. Ambrose in Schuylkill Haven, we do not have a congested parking situation. It never takes more than a few minutes to get out on the road. Absent last week’s “sauna mass” the temperature is usually very comfortable. It’s not football season, yet. The Phillies aren’t on the tube until the afternoon. So, why are they rushing? After having sat through 45 minutes of worship, what difference does another 8 minutes make?
Now, I understand that sometimes people just need to go. I too have had birthday parties or a retirement luncheons to attend that started shorted after mass ended. I too have children who play sports that have early start times and need to get them home, changed, and to the field before noon. Heck, my wife is 9 months pregnant and can pop at any minute, including during mass. So, I can empathize with those that by necessity have to leave early sometimes. I am not talking to you.
I am talking to the people who do it EVERY WEEK. I am talking to the individuals who can’t even put in a full effort during Easter and Christmas. I am talking to the families that I then see in the buffet line at Hoss’ 20 minutes later. Generally, it is the same offenders week in and week out.
You might be saying to yourself: “Why does this matter to you, Hank? It is none of your business how others choose to worship. You are in no position to judge them.”
You would be only partially correct. You would be right that it isn’t any of my business how other people choose to worship. That’s their concern. After all, they attend mass to praise God, not to appease The Clarke Report.
You would be right that I am in no position to judge. I am the furthest thing from a perfect Catholic. I never sing the hymns or the responsorials. I merely lip synch them (but then again, I could chalk that up to community safety standards) Sometimes, I miss every point in Father Abraham’s homily because I am thinking about how much of a chore putting together those bunk-beds are going to be later that afternoon. Gosh, there are even some weeks that I skip mass all together.
However, you would be wrong to assume that it shouldn’t matter to me. I care whether people are respecting my God. I care whether people are respecting the sanctity of my church. And I care whether people are respecting my priest. It matters to me that after receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ, thereby absolving one of sin and bringing him closer to Grace, a person cannot kneel in reverance to his Lord and say “thank you”. In fact, since Christ is present in the Eucharist, those who leave before it is put back in the tabernacle are actually turning their back on Him. To me, if you can’t find the time or have the patience to kneel in the holy presence and keep your buttocks in the pew for the entire celebration, I would rather you not even show up then to disrespect me, my priest, my church, and my Lord and Savior by running for door.