Where is the Prayer? (Katie Riesterer)

Being a Roman Catholic in Cork, Ireland has not let me down.  The “universal” meaning of my religion’s name has proven itself true.  The first reading, second reading, gospel, homily, transubstantiation, etc. are ordered and celebrated the same as at home.  All the masses that I have attended have been said in English, so even with the occasional thick Cork accent, I am able to follow along.  However, I noticed an immediate difference when I had my first mass experience and there was not any music.  As a little girl I was told that singing is praying twice.  In addition, my memories of family include the seven of us taking up a pew and singing together in our quaint country Church.  I am not at home though; I am alone in a huge, dark, cold, Cork Church.   It was odd and I disliked the absence of the music.  There was not an absence of noise though.

The Irish come to Church when they are able.  It does not matter how far in the Mass we are; those Irish will walk right up to their desired pew and join us.  I think it’s grand.  No time to join like the present.  Between the noises of their slightly boisterous entrances, there is also the sound of coins.  Every mass I have attended, there have been two collections and since the smallest paper money is five Euro, a lot of coins are dropped in.  As I referenced to earlier, these Churches are big, lit only by stain glass windows and a few lights, chilly, and old, so any noise is a pleasant sound.  Going up for Communion actually made me laugh.  There was no order at all.  Everyone just went up when they pleased and went to whatever line they pleased.  I am use to it now, but it was chaos for me the first time.

Well, I left that first mass and looked down at my watch.  Interestingly enough, that was the fastest mass I had ever attended.  In America, the standard mass is two times as long as that one was.  Mass had just been under a half hour.  I did not think much of it.  At home, a short mass usually meant that the Priest decided to say a short homily because the Packer game was about to be on.  I didn’t think much on it.  I just figured the lack of music was the cause.  However, the next mass I attended had music and singing, but was just as short.  Unfortunately, the only people that sing are those in the choir.  I never hear a peep out of the parishioners, but that may be in part of being in a very large church.  Regardless, mass was still short.  I thought it odd because the homily was of usual amount as home, so what was the cause?  It was not until I received a message from my Nana inquiring, “I have been meaning to ask you if the Mass over there in Ireland are really short?? The gal from Ireland that we saw said they were and that the people over there wouldn’t like all the fan fare we have here.” that I really started to observe.

The priest never stops.  He walks right in, mass begins and goes on without pauses for prayer.  At home, there is always at least time to reflect on the Gospel and the Homily.  Here, the only time for personal prayer is when you are waiting in the speedy disjointed Communion line.  The priest just moves on from one part to the next, condensing mass to half the time as at home.  Even when there is music, the songs are short and scarce.  All I can say is that it is going to be interesting attending mass at home again.  I will probably embarrass myself by standing or kneeling at the wrong time because here, everyone here does that kind of thing on his or her own time and place.  I am just thankful that I have a Roman Catholic Mass to attend.  Sunday mass times are usually 10:00am, noon, and 7:00pm here in Cork.  I will miss those convenient sleep-in mass times very much.

Katie Riesterer is studying abroad at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland.

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