I’ve gone to mass twice in the last month and – while they’ve been funeral masses which carries a huge weight of sadness – my heart was filled from both experiences. I just love mass so very much. I know that’s a weird thing to say as an agnostic humanist, but I’m very spiritual and I believe strongly in the power of the focused and good energy that can come from religious rituals like mass and prayer. There are so many times where the ritual and spirit of it all just makes me cry when I go to mass. Especially at a funeral mass. and ESPECIALLY when they sing “On Eagle’s Wings” which is what we sang at my aunt’s funeral this weekend and the tears blinded me they flowed so fast and strong.
It’s weird that someone like me gets into mass as much as I do. I don’t love that the Catholic church went and changed up some of the responses on me a few years ago, so it’s not as easy for me to blend in now…but other than that, I really do love mass. I love going through the communion line to get a blessing. (I don’t take communion because, as a non-believer, that feels like an insult to the believers around me and the Catholic church requests that those not in “communion with Catholic teachings” skip out). I love giving peace to the people around me. I love listening to the gospel and even doing the sign of the cross on my forehead, lips, and heart because – while I don’t believe in the dogma that defines God and salvation and heaven and hell – I believe very strongly that there is a lot of wisdom in Jesus’s teachings and I believe I can still go through the motions to ask the universe to help me be open to those teachings.
And I prayed a lot. The word “prayer” is a tough one for me to use because it feels so heavy with Christian connotations, but I’m trying to be more open to it as a secular word because it really perfectly describes what I do when I send my hopes and wishes and love out into the universe for the people I love. During mass I pray for my loved ones and for everyone suffering in grief in that church. It wasn’t that I was praying to the “God” that the church itself defined, it was just me putting my good will for all of those grieving out in to the universe which I think does have a real effect. If nothing else, it puts me in the mindset to be thinking about the others around me and hopefully that helps me show more love and kindness in ways that the people I come into contact with could use.
I just found both experiences to be uplifting. I mean, it was basically an hour focused on the people I love and trying to will good energy into the world for them as they grieve. It was an hour of opening myself up to the combination of sadness of loss and celebration that comes with a spiritual belief in an afterlife. My heart took in all of the love and grief and purpose and dedication in the room, held it close and tried my best to give it back in a way deserving of those experiences heart-breaking loss. I felt honored to be a part of it all.