religious study, essay

This is a 4-5 pages essay and needs to be done with the following instruction.

The Catholic tradition is a living tradition. Moreover, theology (as we will discuss) is the study of a faith tradition from the inside, that is, from the perspective of a member of that tradition. Thus, a robust and accurate study of Catholic theology requires the ongoing experience of Catholic liturgical practice (i.e., attending Mass). For the purposes of this course and this paper, you are expected to attend 2 Sunday Masses at two different Catholic parishes and to then write a thoughtful theological reflection on the experience.

Please note: The two experiences of Mass cannot be Founders Chapel and The Immaculata. One of the Masses you experience must be located somewhere other than the USD campus. Similarly, please note that the best comparison (and thus the best paper, and the best grade) will involve two very different Masses (i.e., Founders Chapel and one in Spanish at Our Lady of Guadalupe; or The Immaculata and a black Catholic-influenced Mass at Christ the King; or, ideally, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Christ and King).

Be sure to arrive early to each Mass so that you can find a seat where you will be comfortable. If you are not familiar with Catholic worship, you may wish to sit toward the back or one of the sides of the church (or attend with someone who is Catholic) so that you can observe what takes place (sitting, standing, kneeling, moving, singing, etc.) without feeling pressure or attracting undue notice. At the conclusion of each Mass, take 10-15 minutes to write down your thoughts, reactions, and questions. This is very important. Waiting even an hour will inevitably result in the loss of key elements of the experience. As you write down your thoughts, consider:

1. What did the priest look like? What did he wear? What did his vestments and mannerisms communicate?

2. What readings were proclaimed? Who proclaimed them? Were they proclaimed clearly? Did the congregation appear to be paying attention when they were read?

3.  What did the homilist say? What was his main point(s)? Was he effective in making that point(s)?

4.  Did the congregation actively participate in the Mass?

5.  What did the church look like? What images, statues, or decorations were most noticeable?

6.  Was the congregation diverse? Who was there? Families with young children? Single adults? Senior citizens? A mix?

7.  Was the Mass well attended? Did you feel welcomed?

After attending both Masses, you are ready to compose your paper. This 4-5 page paper should dedicate approximately one page to describing and discussing each of the Masses, you attended as well as 2-3 pages discussing what you learned about the Catholic tradition from the experience of attending both. The most outstanding papers (those which will earn an A grade) will include key concepts from class as well as make connections between the Masses and course themes. Thus, this assignment may include your personal reflections but should also include your demonstration of how you are able to apply what you are learning in class.

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