Can I go to mass if I'm not Catholic?

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

While driving around LaGrange, Georgia in desperate search of the local Wal Mart,  I found myself in the parking lot of St. Peter’s Catholic Church during its Saturday night mass. The place was packed, and from the outside I could hear the muffled harmonies of a choir. 

It’s hard to explain, but I suddenly felt the urge to go inside. I’m not Catholic or Anglican, but I’ve recently felt a strong pull toward more traditional, liturgical expressions of worship. 

Apparently, I’m not alone. U.S. News & World Report has a great article about what many see is a return to liturgy, ritual, and symbol among young evangelicals.

As we participate in Holy Week, I’m wondering if any of you feel the same way.  What do you think accounts for this renewed interest in tradition-observing the religious calendar, reciting daily prayers and ancient creeds, incorporating symbols into worship, etc. 

I was raised to believe that Christianity was not a religion, but a relationship. In my more seeker-sensitive, “low church” upbringing, religious traditions tended to fall into the “religion” category in my mind. And yet as an adult, I find tremendous comfort and peace in these very religious practices. They make me feel closer to God and more connected to the historic Church. Surrounded by commercialism and consumerism, they represent to me a sort of purity and authenticity that reminds me that I belong to something greater than myself. 

Jason Clark has an interesting view on all of this on his blog.

He writes that “within liturgy there is the invitation to participation, of repeating and enacting something together as community, that reminds us that there are beliefs that we order our lives around, rather than a world that asks us to choose whatever we want to believe.” 

The U.S. News & World Report article also presents some theories as to why young evangelicals are drawn to tradition. 

“People of the postmodern mindset—particularly 20- and 30-somethings—question the hyperindividualism of modern culture. They search for new forms of community but tend to be wary of authority figures and particularly of leaders…The young neotraditionalists also have an almost intuitive attraction to liturgy, ritual, and symbol as forms of knowledge that complement the dominant rational, scientific one.” 

What do you think? Anyone else done any research on this?

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