Dear Parish Family,
As you came into Mass this weekend, you were handed a “worship aid,” which contains the order of Mass with the responses and all the music we would be singing. You may have been delighted by it, or you may have thought: “What is this? Why in the heck would we need this?” Either response is perfectly understandable, so it’s worth discussing why a program for Mass makes sense.
The first and most important reason for having a worship aid is because it is the best way for newcomers or guests to feel at home in our church. None of them wants to be standing when everyone else is kneeling. No one wants to say, “And also with you!” when everyone else is saying something different. Newcomers don’t know where to find the Creed and they wouldn’t have a clue about where to find the “Holy, Holy.” This allows anyone coming to feel a little more at home, whether they’re a friend from work who came to Mass with you before your kids have their play date…or if they’re lifelong Catholics from Brooklyn who are up to enjoy the Adirondacks, and are coming to St. Mary’s for the first time.
Our music ministry is one of the treasures of our parish. Each week I hear compliments about Sue Wright and her team of gifted and generous music ministers. With a hymnal in the pew, we are bound to using the music of the hymnal publisher. Our recent hymnal of the past several years is published by Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) and has a great collection of music. But if you’ve ever been to another parish with a different hymnal, you may have sung songs that you liked but that weren’t in OCP, which means we haven’t been able to sing them. With a worship aid, we can use the full span of music from all the Catholic publishers: OCP, GIA, WLP and more. We already pay a licensing fee for that music, and now we can make full use of it at weekend Masses.
When Covid was at its peak, parishes were not permitted to use shared hymnals, so we carted them all off and mothballed them. But with a worship aid, everyone has everything at their fingertips to participate fully no matter what. When the County Health Department advises not to share materials, we can make them single-use and have recycle bins at the exits. At other times, we can pile them as we exit and reuse them for all three Masses, recycling them after the 11:15 Mass. People can also take them home, which provides more ways for us to spread God’s message and extend St. Mary’s presence in the community.
Whether you like the idea of a worship aid or are tempted to think it’s a lot of hooey, I very much appreciate your willingness to give it a try. The feedback we get will help us to keep finding better ways to spread far and wide the faith, hope and love of the Catholic tradition in 2022.