Thursday, October 15, 2009

The "Last Chance Masses?"

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I can remember back in the olden days when even for me, a fledgling pagan, that missing Mass on Sunday (or Holy Days of Obligation, back when there were seven of them) (a prize for anybody who can name all seven) was not a grievous sin, not a capital sin, not a serious sin, but rather a MORTAL SIN, a DEADLY SIN, punishable by eternal damnation in HELL. And we believed that.

Those were the days when we had to fast from food and drink from Midnight and there were almost no Masses after 12:00 noon. The earlier the Mass we attended, the sooner we could "break the fast." This is while I was an undergrad at the U of Minn. in the early 1960s, before pagans like me had even heard of Vatican II.

I lived in a house with 33 other guys less than a block from St. Lawrence Parish in the days before it was a Newman Club, but rather a combination of students and real people. I won't explain the reason why, but occasionally we were not able to get up on time to attend the 12:00 noon Mass at St. Lawrence and had to plan to attend the one Mass that we knew of in the Twin Cities that was held on Sunday evenings.

I'm going by 50 year old memory now, but I think it was Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, located near what was to become the West Bank (of the Mississippi River) of the University of Minnesota that was located near several hospitals that scheduled an evening Mass that was convenient for nurses and other shift-workers that were finishing up their Sunday day shift duties. It's been closed for a very long time.

Think back to when I wrote "MORTAL SIN, DEADLY SIN and HELL! We daren't miss Mass and I recall with horror a Sunday when the temperature never reached up to 15 below and somebody decided that we had better walk over to Mass, a distance of probably a half mile or more if we used the railroad trestle shortcut behind Sanford Hall. There wasn't much wind that night and we made it and found a seat, as usual in the basement. The entire population of slackers in the Twin Cities knew about OLPH and they had purchased a few hundred folding chairs and a sound system to pipe the Mass to us in their subterranean nether regions.

We found seats and then the warmth began to thaw our ears. Modern medicine uses a 1-10 scale for self measurement of pain. Well, if you ever freeze your ears (back in those days, hats weren't cool), frozen ears were a common occurrence and were never a problem. The problem was when they thawed out and the blood started flowing again. The pain scale for that experience was probably on the range of 1-30, with mid 20's being a regular number. If amputations were offered in that basement, there is no doubt that the technician might have become prosperous doing ear amputations to relieve the pain. But after ten minutes or so, the pain eased, the ears flopped for a few days, and we were able to stay attentive to the sounds of the Mass being piped down to us.

You guys have it EASY! All kinds of last chance Masses these days. And virtually no fasting if you have an accurate watch and know the priest saying the Mass you intend to attend. You can probably have a hamburger at 6:40 and still meeting the one-hour fasting requirements for many parishes with 7:00 p.m. Masses around town.

I won't even talk today about Confession and being in the State of Grace. (no caps today, but next time, you'd better be prepared!)


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Many area parishes offer Sunday evening opportunities

While many people are winding down with the remote control or a good book on Sunday night, the Hallman family of River Falls, Wis., is heading to the “last chance” Mass at St. John Vianney Seminary, where worshippers fill the chapel long before the 9:30 p.m. start time and folding chairs spill out in the atrium.

The Mass is dubbed “last chance” because it has the latest start time for a Sunday liturgy in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The overflow crowd includes students from the University of St. Thomas and St. John Vianney Seminary, along with friends and families like the Hallmans, Bobbie Hallman says.

Hallman and her husband, Kevin, are often prodded to travel the 70 miles round trip by their daughters, Laura, 17, and Annie, 13, to celebrate Mass with their brother, Daniel, who is a junior at St. Thomas.

During the summer, two other Hallman sons, Timothy, 22, and Robert, 26, sometimes join the family and the regular celebrant, Father William Baer, St. John Vianney rector.

Although young adults are typically the ones who sleep in on Sunday mornings and attend late liturgies, attending Sunday evening Mass is not all about sleep, Hallman says.

“We have a lot of teenagers [at the Mass],” she says. Sometimes they need sleep, and sometimes the teens and adults have activities that keep them from Sunday morning or Saturday anticipatory Mass. They also enjoy Father Baer’s homilies, so the Hallmans go together as a family.

“It’s really the Holy Spirit at work through Father Baer, because he has a way of capturing you and making you love the Lord even more than you thought you did,” Hallman says. “What he does at St. Thomas is not just for St. John Vianney, it’s for all the kids. He’s affecting the whole campus.”

St. Peter in North St. Paul is one of 38 parishes to offer Sunday night Mass. Father Daniel Griffith, pastor, began celebrating a 6 p.m. Mass on June 7.

“We [believed we] could reach more people by offering this, and there appeared to be a regional need,” he says.
Sunday evening Mass can reach those people who are returning from the cabin or had other good reasons for not attending another parish Mass, Father Griffith says.

“But, I think we have to be mindful that we are preaching about the priorities. Sunday Mass should be the No. 1 priority of our week. It’s an amazing hour where we meet our God in a profound and sacramental and real way,” he says.

Although the church should “not capitulate to the culture,” the Sunday evening Mass is attracting more young adults, he adds. “The work of the church is to engage culture and, at times, when culture needs to be evangelized, to offer another way.”

Sunday night ‘last chance’ Masses in the archdiocese

Anoka: St. Stephen, 6 p.m.
Brooklyn Center: St. Alphonsus, 5:30 p.m.
Burnsville: Mary, Mother of the Church, 6 p.m.
- Risen Savior, 6 p.m. (Oct.-May only)
Chanhassen: St. Hubert, 6 p.m.
Coon Rapids: Epiphany, 5:30 p.m.
Eagan: St. John Neumann, 6 p.m.
Eden Prairie: Pax Christi, 5 p.m.
Edina: Our Lady of Grace, 6 p.m.
Faribault: Divine Mercy, 5 p.m.
Forest Lake: St. Peter, 5:30 p.m.
Hastings: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 6 p.m.
Hopkins: St. John the Evangelist, 6 p.m.
Lakeville: All Saints, 5:30 p.m.
Maple Grove: St. Joseph the Worker, 5:30 p.m.
Medina: Holy Name of Jesus, 5:30 p.m.
Minneapolis: Basilica of St. Mary, 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
- Holy Cross, 6:30 p.m.
- Holy Rosary, 6 p.m. (Spanish)
- Our Lady of Lourdes, 7 p.m.
- St. Austin, 6:30 p.m.
- St. Boniface, 7:45 p.m.
- St. Lawrence-Newman, 7 and 9 p.m.
- St. Olaf, 4 p.m.
- St. Stephen, 6 p.m. (Spanish)
New Brighton: St. John the Baptist, 6:15 p.m.
New Hope: St. Joseph, 6 p.m.
North St. Paul: St. Peter, 6 p.m.
Rogers: Mary, Queen of Peace, 6 p.m.
Rosemount: St. Joseph, 6 p.m.
St. Michael: St. Michael, 6 p.m.
St. Paul: Cathedral of St. Paul, 5 p.m.
- Holy Spirit, 5 p.m.
- Nativity of Our Lord, 5 p.m.
Shakopee: St. Mary, 6 p.m.
Shoreview: St. Odilia, 6 p.m. (Sept.-May)
Stillwater: St. Mary, 6 p.m.
Waconia: St. Joseph, 5:30 p.m. (Sept.-May)
Woodbury: St. Ambrose, 5 p.m.

Source: 2009 Official Minnesota Catholic Directory
Parish listings from the Archdiocese

The Catholic Spirit
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