If the Zombie Apocalypse ever does arrive, I know where the Catholic zombies will be going to Mass. They will straggle-stumble straight for our twelve o’clock noon on Sunday. And they will feel at home. They will find community.
There is something strange about this Mass. People walk in late, very late. It is not uncommon to watch an entire family saunter in, casually look around, and debate which seat to take while I am halfway through a homily. Our church holds some five hundred people, yet the couple of hundred or so who make it to this Mass seem to deliberately scatter themselves as far from one another as possible. No one sings. The spoken responses are barely audible. Few receive from the cup and those who receive Communion at all tend to have a glazed, expressionless stare. Because it’s our last Mass of the weekend, I think it draws some folks from other parishes, so a number of faces are unfamiliar to me. Many of the people I do recognize usually attend one of the other weekend Masses, catching this one because of convenience or other commitments.
It’s true that every weekend Mass has its own personality and atmosphere. The Saturday vigil, for instance, is a pre-dinner crowd. People are in an anticipatory mood. This is the first stop on a night out, whether to a party or dinner with friends. The first Mass on Sunday morning, early as it is, might attract golfers, or kids with a later soccer game, or the older couple on their way to bacon and eggs at the diner. Mid-morning is the hands-down favorite of families with small children and their teens, dragged out of bed. But this last one of the day, high noon, always seems a little flat. I assure you that a great deal of care and energy is put into each of the weekend Masses with regard to hospitality, music, preaching, and the ministries of lectors and Eucharistic ministers. The noon Mass is no exception to this, yet nothing seems to help.