Yesterday, March 25, was our first time to go to Mass as a party of 5. Our son was born almost 7 weeks premature and spent a few weeks in the NICU recently and he'd only been home about 10 days as of yesterday.
While the proceedings are still confusing to me at times (navigating the Missal is still new to me), the blending of scripture and song in both English and Latin is quite beautiful. As you observe it, you realize that what you're watching is what John described seeing as the Heavenly mass in the book of Revelations.
You're witnessing rituals, prayers and scripture reading that have been repeated for the better part of 2000 years. As you consider this you realize you're connected by the same Church body spanning two millennium not just by belief but also by practice and by form.
Furthermore, to know that every Roman Catholic Parish in the entire world was reading the exact same passages and singing the exact same hymns and responding with the exact same responses to the readings really gives you a new sense of community.
When you consider it all, it forces you to reconsider how you've defined your Church community throughout your life. As a Catholic, you're part of not only a globally unified church, that worships the same way, everyday, but also part of a community that has done so largely for centuries.
Many Protestants loath the idea of Liturgy or structured order to worship services. In fact, a dear friend of mine, who is P.C.A minister told me he "wasn't a fan of the liturgy". I guess to each his own but I appreciate the boundaries having a definitive form to worship gives you. In the Catholic Church, there is never a danger that the focus of the services will ever be on something other than Jesus.
Because of the Liturgy, you never have to worry about the next big thing in praise and worship bands putting a 6 piece instrument set in front of the stage. Nor do you have to worry about the pulpit and the Alter trading spaces because your Priest is now the next Andy Stanley, Billy Graham or some other evangelical superstar.
Having Liturgy guarantees that things are always properly ordered and that Jesus is at the center.
With regards to scripted prayer, I'll be honest, at first I hated the idea. I thought for sure that scripted prayer was like "cheating". I would think to myself: "How can you have an honest conversation with God if you're just repeating the same prayer over and over again?"
However, in practice, I've come to love it. As the father of three children, and an owner or partner in three separate businesses, there are days when I am so overwhelmed, I have no idea where to start on my list of things to pray for. It's times like these that I absolutely love being able to go to God and repeat the Lord's prayer and then go to Mary with the Hail Mary.
Saying these prayers repeatedly helps focus my mind on Jesus and the Holy Mother and helps me order the things I need to take to the Lord in prayer.
So, after practicing the scripted prayers, I'm a fan. And why should we be surprised? Did not the Lord Jesus tell us to go to him in prayer as such?
"Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen." - Matthew 6:9-13
Peace Be With You!