We have twelve people who come to the daily Mass at St Clement’s every week. Of course they don’t all come on the same day, and I have to confess that, when I hand my biretta to the server and see that we are the only two people there, I feel delighted.
When I was a younger priest, I would not have dared admit that, lest I be accused of not wanting to see the altar thronged at every Mass with hundreds of the faithful! But now that I am older and more experienced, I can admit to this delight – that sometimes it is a joy to be able to celebrate the Mass with just one representative of the People of God.
Why? Well, the Mass can be said very quietly and in a meditative fashion. Small silences can be observed when one can recite the names of those, living and departed, for whom one wants to pray. The intention of the Mass can be expanded to make explicit what I know the server wants to pray about. Some of the “secret” prayers can be said out loud, if quietly, and shared with the server, which is not often possible in a bigger Mass. In all, it is of course the same re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross and the celebration of the Resurrection as it is when there are hundreds of people in attendance, but such a quiet Mass can be, in its own way, just as joyful an occasion, just as powerful a prayer.