She was surprised at how crowded it was - well, it was noon, it was downtown, and it was (is) First Friday. But it was packed, and it occurred to me that this is one of the great untold stories of U.S. Catholicism - the numbers of folks who attend daily Mass. I'd like to see a team of reporters and photographers hit some downtown churches across the country for their schedule of weekday Masses, from 6 AM on, to see the numbers of folks there, and even to talk to a few, to take some photographs. It would give flesh to the story, to the story of Catholics are taking their faith seriously, who are leaving the house extra early or skipping lunch so they can go to Mass, hear the Scriptures, and be joined in Communion in, through and as the Body of Christ.
Since my high school years I have gone to daily Mass at least occasionally. When I was in medical school I would drive to a suburban parish for daily Mass just to get change of scenery from inner city Dallas. When I found myself “retired” with all my children in school about four years ago, I started making daily Mass more days than not. One of the surprising things for me was how much it made me appreciate Scripture. The daily readings actually lead us from Sunday to Sunday. Attending only Sunday Mass became like reading the abridged version of a novel. Of course I can always read the daily readings without attending Mass. But reflecting on them within the context of Mass gives them a depth and texture that I lose if I just read them on my own. When my schedule curtails my daily Mass attendance I really miss it.
Amy is right about the daily Mass attendees being the untold story of American Catholicism. Years ago, I would attend daily Mass with sweet little grannies. There was no one from my own generation there. I am not old enough to be the granny yet but I am older than many of today's daily communicants. There are many mothers there with their children. Some are obviously home-schooled and Mass attendance is part of their curriculum. Others are pre-school age and are growing up with daily Mass as a normal part of their routine. It gives me great hope for Catholicism in America.