Right now, I'm watching the Buddhist temple down the street online- they are streaming a live visit from the Dali Lama this afternoon, which everyone around here has been very excited about.
I'll confess that I don't know much about the DL, and probably should. I asked a friend "what is everyone so excited about?" Is he going to say something earth-shattering? Does he have a message from... somewhere? God, or aliens? Or, is he just a really inspiring speaker? Would it be like having a Pope come here?
My friend said that he brings a message of compassion. So, okay, I'll watch.
When I tuned in, people were chanting, and other people were singing, and still other people were dancing but it didn't appear that they were dancing either to the chanting or to the music. Now people are dancing along to music by a band.
It reminds me of something my mother once said. She imagined that anyone peeking in the window of a Catholic Church on Good Friday, not knowing anything about our Story, might think there was something crazy and cultish going on.
In the early Church, going to Mass was not an entry-level activity. You became involved in the Church through interacting with its members, inquiring to know more, proving yourself sincere, and learning your way into the sacred rites that the Church held so dearly, like the Mass. You can still see RCIA candidates leaving after the reading of the Gospel as Easter nears, harkening back to those early days. Now it's a bit of an empty (or, even, non-sensical) gesture, as it means that those who are sincerely seeking entry to the Church are removed from the assembly before the Communion Rite but any other person who may not even want to be there in the first place, is welcome to stay.
Back in the day the Church was protective of Her rites, because Christians were persecuted, and so they needed to be really sure a person wanted to commit themselves to the faith before they would expose their sacred rituals to potentially dangerous outsiders.
Today I am an outsider looking in, and it reminds me to pray for those people who sit inside our Church but still feel like outsiders. It reminds me to pray for seekers everywhere.