Fr. Samuel's e-Epistle for Jan. 23 (survey says....!)
Thank you for all of your responses to the survey
that we send to you a couple of months ago. That was in addition to the survey that we sent out asking about interest in an earlier Sunday morning Mass without music. There was significant interest expressed so I will include comments on the challenges I face in making that happen.
In response to the second longer survey, 754 of you opened the second survey email, but not everyone voted. Here are the results. I will point out as well some steps that we have already taken in response to your input. Keep in mind that these are only first steps. We will continue to discuss your input and do future surveys to make sure that we are on track with all of you.
What is missing in the way we do Mass?
262 total votes
96 votes – 37% Better Music
33 votes – 12% Better Preaching
44 votes – 17% More Reverence
89 votes – 34% Something else (vote, then leave a comment)
What is the thing you like most about our Masses?
282 total votes
121 votes – 43% The Atmosphere
78 votes – 28% The preaching
37 votes – 13% The music
46 votes – 16% Something else (vote, then leave a comment)
Which Sunday Mass do you usually attend?
71 votes – 24% 5:00 PM Vigil Saturday
49 votes – 17% 8:30 AM Sunday
24 votes – 8% 10:00 AM Sunday at Queen of Angels
81 votes – 27% 10:30 AM Sunday
6 votes – 2% 12:15 PM Sunday in Spanish
43 votes – 15% 5:00 PM Sunday Youth Mass
14 votes – 5% No Mass is ‘usually’ attended
7 votes – 2% I usually go elsewhere for Sunday Mass
There were over 160 comments made to the questions above.
The Emmaus staff has met and discussed the survey results. This was excellent information from which to work, to plan and to grow. We are appreciative of how constructive and helpful your comments are. We have actionable results because of your input, and we hope you will notice these results in the near future and have a favorable response to them. Please know that not everything can happen at once – we will be working with these results for some time.
Regarding the first survey on an early, “quiet” Mass
First, any Mass changes have to be approved by the bishop so I will need to consult with him. It is important to keep in mind that Canon (Church) law specifically limits the number of Masses that a priest may say in one day. Canon law begins by stating that in most circumstances it is not licit for a priest to celebrate or concelebrate more than one Mass per day. It does go on to say that, if necessary, the local bishop can permit priests to celebrate twice per day and, if pastoral need requires it, three times per day (Can. 905). That means, since Emmaus is a two priest parish, we can have no more than six weekend Masses which is what we now have. I cannot add a seventh Mass to the regular schedule. At present we have three morning Masses: 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM at Emmaus and at 10:00 AM at Queen of Angels chapel. As I continue to discern how to move forward with an earlier, quiet Mass I must consider the best way to rearrange Masses to serve the needs of our growing number of families with children and having access to Masses at realistic times.
Since people still ask me to find another retired priest to help out regularly, I must say (with emphasis) that those days are over. We have been fortunate to have had Fr. Jim Evans and Fr. Larry Connelly during the twelve years that I have been here. However, current retired priests who are still active are in great demand all over the diocese. None are available for regular service to any one parish.
I will continue to gather input and report back to the parish in coming months.
Regarding music at Mass
Recognizing the changing demographics of our parish, I instructed our director of music a number of years ago to build a music program that would serve the needs of a diverse parish. Rather than planning the same music for all Masses, we have sought to offer a variety of options that include both traditional and contemporary music. We have worked as well to include all age groups in our choirs. During most of the year (ordinary time) we use traditional music at the Saturday vigil Mass, a blend of traditional and contemporary at the Sunday morning Masses and contemporary music at the Sunday 5:00 PM Mass. The music at the Mass at Queen of Angels chapel has been mostly traditional. I do hear from parishioners that they do not like one or the other. That is fine. That is why we have options. If I were a parishioner here I would probably mostly attend one of the Sunday morning Masses since I like both traditional and contemporary music.
As a result of the input that we have received from you, we have made a few changes. We had many requests to speak rather than sing the Our Father. We made that change. Also, we are making some changes in the music at communion. The input we received indicated a strong desire for more meditation/quiet time. I have asked that music during communion be planned with that in mind.
Again, the staff are continuing to work with the survey results.
I am monitoring my tendency to be too speedy both in saying Mass and in preaching. I sometimes feel like I am speaking in first gear but, at the same time, I find speaking more slowly opens possibilities for effective preaching and reverential saying of the Mass.
As I fully expected, there were diverse comments about homily topics. There were expressions of appreciation for the historical context that I often employ. At the same time there were some who do not want that. The reason I provide this context is because I am sharing with you how I learned sacred scripture. Knowing the context in human history helps immensely in deepening our understanding of what sacred scripture is about.
There were some comments, as well, expressing desire for more focus on the moral teaching of the Church and on connection between scripture and daily life. For the latter, that is part of the reason that knowing historical context is important. That enables us to see how real people responded to and dealt with issues of their times. Many of those issues remain with us today. Overall, my approach to preaching is to preach about that which is most foundational to our faith as revealed to us in sacred scripture. I preached two weeks ago on how to recognize what in our lives is in accord with the presence of the Spirit of God and what is not. This is foundational to understanding both the moral and the social teaching of the Church. I could preach rules but I have found it better to preach what the gospels call us to make foundational in our lives. If we are living in accord with the Spirit, then the rules become self-evident.
Fr. Rito is enthusiastically embracing the need to improve his English and his delivery of English homilies. I know that he is an excellent homilist is Spanish, so I have confidence that, with encouragement and good advice, he can get there in English as well. The past two weekends you may have noted that his homily was significantly shorter. He is doing that as part of his effort to simplify his message, and because doing shorter homilies in a second language helps to alleviate nervousness. He will continue to print his homilies as he continues to work on his English delivery.
I will joyfully shorten announcements. I do ask that you read the bulletin and the email communications that we send out so that you can stay abreast of things going on in our parish.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Samuel Hose
on Wednesday, January 23 at 1:43PM