"Stay A While!" (A Priest's Invitation During Mass)

One of the things that people find annoying at Mass is the people who leave early...usually right after receiving Communion. I understand that the church is packed, parking is a pain, and the game (whichever sport that may be) starts 20 minutes after Mass; but going to Mass is a committment of one's faith not an extra that is squeezed between a night out and a day of vegging out. It's disrespectful to God, the presider, and the gathered parish community.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I attended a recent Mass and heard the presider say:

"Out of respect for our Lord and for the Lord's people gathered here today, I ask you all to stay until the Mass is finished."

I found his statement to be thought-filled, respectful, and in keeping with the spirit of the Liturgy. People leaving early is something all parish priests have to deal with. As I am still discerning a calling towards the priesthood along with my vocation to the Capuchin Franciscans, innovative and respectful priests such as the one who presided on this occassion inspire me to continue considering a life as a priest.

After the blessing, he pleaded again. "Before you go," he called to the people trying to sneak out, "Stay a while! Grab a hymnal...and join the rest of us in song for the Christmas Season." Unfortunately we were sitting too far up front to see how many people were trying to leave early.

It was a respectful and challenging attempt to reach out to parishioners...definitely something for me to remember for later days.

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