Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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Why is it that the last shot of a movie is often such a long shot? Luke and company receiving their medals. The long shot of all the real-life survivors whose lives were depicted in Schindler's List. The guy riding into the sunset. Why do that?

According to one prof I had for screenwriting, the answer is -- the really important moments of a film, like the ending, or a significant change, are payoff moments. You've been building to them, in one way or another the audience has been anticipating them. Once you hit them, you need to give the audience a little time to let it sink in.

The moments right after the homily ideally are like that, a time for the congregation to simply sit back and take in what's been said, or what's been going on inside of them. (Or, if it's been a long one or a hard one, it can be just a few moments to sort of take back your life. The hostage situation has passed. Did we all make it? >Phew!<)

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- as a presider, some of the most important moments are the ones you're not paying attention to -- the opening comments, for example, or this pause for station identification. So many times I myself have blown right through this moment and move on to the Creed. And it's not the end of the world, but it's a huge lost opportunity. And as a result, everything all sort of tumbles together, and the congregation is like a bag getting blown in the wind, first this way, then that.

A Mass is like a recipe. Not only does it have some specific ingredients, but some of them have to be added at exactly the right time and sometimes in a very specific way. Done different, well, it's still Mass. But the effect is ... less than it could be.

(I've got a wedding this weekend. You can check back, but I probably won't post until Monday. Have a good weekend.)

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