Because the Mass is the Mass

The beloved Carmelite Chapel at our local mall is undergoing a makeover after 50 years in business. Since late winter, it has moved temporarily and now sits in an abandoned retail shell beside Toys ‘R Us, opposite Nordstrom’s. The temporary chapel (left) is not exactly a visual inspiration. Not knowing just where the oldest chapel in an American mall had been moved, I went in search of it this morning because I wanted to go to confession before a weekend retreat.


Father Herb was presiding and the first reading was underway as I walked in. About fifty communicants were present. The acoustics were awful. I heard every third word of Father’s homily and followed the communion liturgy only because I know most of it by heart. We wallowed in an echo chamber without an echo. But it was the Mass. I know this because Father Herb is a beautiful elderly priest and he would not lie about such things.

Afterward, I asked Father Herb if he would hear my confession. Of course he would, and while he greeted a few more departing communicants, I stood waiting for him before this (left) photo of Carmelite Saint Thérèse of Liseux, a Doctor of the Church,  I will tell you now, it is very hard to make a bad confession after you have gazed at this face for more than a couple of seconds. I thought of this young woman living from age 16 to 24 in a Carmelite convent in France, then dying there of tuberculosis, and I really could not feel anything but inspired. The confession was short and sweet—centered on a matter that has been troubling me for nearly a year now—and then I hit the road in the direction of the retreat.


There is nothing like the Mass, after or (in this case) before Confession. I am happy to be a Catholic.

  • Mary P.

    This is beautiful, Webster. Last week I was at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. last Sunday. It's spectacular. But I didn't feel any closer to God there than I have anywhere else I've ever prayed. I end up closing my eyes in prayer anyway, so does it really matter? Enjoy your retreat…


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