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The unusual way the French take the offering at Mass

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Cerith Gardiner - published on 10/30/22

Our Gallic brothers and sisters have embraced technology with a traditional twist.

An Aleteia colleague recently visited me in Paris, and when we attended a local French Catholic Mass, we had a bit of a shock.

The church of Sainte Marie des Batignolles was full of the faithful — both young and old. There were so many young children being supervised and cared for by their dads as well as their moms. The music gave us goosebumps and the priest, Fr. Alain-Christian, addressed the congregation with warmth and a sense of joy.

However, while we were wrapped up in the charms and beauty of the Mass, there was another detail that caught our eye: In addition to the regular offering baskets being passed around, there was another basket that seemed a little out of place.

In this particular small wicker basket was a machine to make card payments. It was propped up to make it easy to use. While it struck us as a stroke of genius, at the same time it seemed a little bizarre.

My colleague and I discussed this after Mass and agreed that it was great to see the Church adapting to the changes of how society uses money. We also liked the fact that the payment option was an integral part of the offertory, and not just a machine at the back of the church for donations before or after Mass.

But there was also something else that I liked about the use of the basket. It felt symbolic to use a receptacle that could easily have been woven centuries ago. It was maintaining a touch of tradition that’s important to liturgy and so reassuring in our ever-changing world.

And if there’s something else to take away from our little French experience, it’s the joy to be had from going to a new church wherever you are in the world. From hearing Mass in a foreign language (even though it often feels so familiar with our emphatic “Amens”) to seeing the cultural differences around the world, Catholicism is a uniting force.

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