A while back I heard Mark Hart, the Bible Geek on the radio and one of the things he said made me laugh, but it stuck with me. He was talking about Christian joy (or the lack thereof) and he said, “Some people look like they were baptized with vinegar.”
At first, I thought that was hysterically funny, but after I thought about it, I realized he was right. I play piano and organ at Mass every Sunday, and from my vantage point, I can see the whole congregation. It’s amazing how many people, even the priest sometimes, really have a sour look on their faces from time to time. It made me wonder a couple of things - Why is that the case? And, do I look that way to others?
Why would we look sour at Mass, of all places, when we are about to embark on the most remarkable journey mankind has ever known? Maybe because we are human, and we can’t fathom the depth of what is about to happen? Do we take it for granted? St. John Vianney explained that even the priest may not be able to appreciate his own part in this miracle: "O, how great is the priest! ... If he realized what he is, he would die," St. John Vianney said.
Now, I understand that everybody has a bad day now and then. I have heard all the arguments about how “Mass is boring” from adults and kids alike. I always want to remind them that Mass is not supposed to be entertainment. It is what we are called to do by the Lord Himself. I think He told us to do it in His memory until He comes back and we don’t have to any more. Where is our joy then?
Hart’s comment certainly gave me pause to examine myself. We have only one Sunday Mass at our little parish and it is at 8 a.m. It is a sacrifice sometimes to get up on Sunday, like a regular workday in order to be there in time to play at Mass. But I have tried to give that to Jesus. Being joyful that time of morning is another thing. I pray I can learn to be more joyful, and that the light of Christ can shine through me.
I figure if I can be joyful at that 8 a.m. Mass every Sunday, it will spill over into my everyday life. "Christian joy is a gift of God flowing from a good conscience,” St. Philip Neri said. I think we all need to embrace that. No more vinegar!