The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

“Powerful and moving”: a priest recalls celebrating mass in a Muslim home

Here’s something inspiring for you.

A priest visiting friends in a far-removed Nigerian village last year found himself unexpectedly celebrating Mass in a Muslim home.

He writes:

Within a short time of my arrival, news went around the community that a priest was visiting, and people started coming around to visit with me. Some of the Catholics in the village pleaded with me to say a Mass for them. They had not had a Mass for a long time. Luckily enough, I had my Mass kit with me in the car.

​We decided to have the Mass in the church at 8 p.m. This community had no electricity. The church relies on a small generator to provide light for the church. Unfortunately that night, the generator would not power on. Close to the church is a Muslim family that had a small power generator that worked. We decided to approach them and say an outdoor Mass in their compound. When we approached them, they were excited to have us celebrate the Eucharist in their company, and they partook in the celebration. I did not for once think about whether or not it is liturgically or theologically proper to do this, nor do I believe the Muslim family had any theological issues with us celebrating Mass in their home. The fact that Catholics in this community wanted to worship God in their own way was most important to me. It delighted me that Muslims and non-Catholics were open to help them in their worship.


​We finally gathered for Mass at 9 p.m., and the opening song to the celebration lasted for one hour. Present at the Mass were Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, African Traditional Religionists, Muslims, and others. Everyone sang, and the women danced — and danced and danced. The Mass lasted till 1 a.m. The Mass was powerful and moving for me. I had never had such a wonderful experience in the celebration of the Eucharist, not even in my very first Mass as a priest. If this was the only Mass I had to celebrate as a priest, I told myself, it was worth my becoming a priest. The people gathered for this celebration did not see each other as foreigners from different tribes, religions, and churches. They saw each other as one people, with one common origin. This unity is never portrayed in the media. What we see are stories of the radical fringe elements in the different religions. They seem to be the loudest, and so often, their story is one that is told, casting religion in bad light.

Read on.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Compared to the report of the pews getting emptier in the USA, this is an amazing story. Not only worship, but joyeous worship.

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Thomas Collins

posted September 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm

WOW! Praise God! What a movement of the Holy Spirit! What a testament to the power of God! Come, Lord Jesus!

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posted September 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Distressingly naive and uninformed! Try celebrating your mass in the heart of the arab world. Or in Iran or Afghanistan. I guarantee your experience would not have been ‘powerful’ or ‘moving.’ The only ‘moving’ would have been that which allowed you to escape a violent reaction. Africans, including those who are moslem, are known to be more tolerant and accepting of differing forms of worship. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for those in the historical homelands of Islam.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 8:16 am

Because Islam – at its core – demands the “conversion or destruction of all nonbelievers”, it is IN NO WAY compatible with Christianity! There simply is no coexistence. If Muslims celebrate a Christian Mass, they are either not practicing Islam or they are deceiving you in their intent.
Educate yourself about tarqiyya – the Islamic tenet that requires a Muslim to LIE whenever necessary to protect their lives or livelihood. Tarqiyya asks them to lie about such things as: a) whether they are a practicing Muslim, b) what the Islamic beleifs entail, c) their obligation to destroy Chritians, d) their personal and lifesaving need to enact “jihad” to achieve that end, etc…
The writer is being naive, if he thinks an evening of joint celebration had anything to do with spreading the Christian message. Maybe he is just relieved that his way was tolerated for the time being?

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Be Happy!

posted September 23, 2010 at 8:07 pm

gael- seriously calm down-
the jews do it, the christians do it, and so do the muslims. maybe not all of followers have to, but they all can do it esp. when persecuted or at risk of being persecuted. It is in all three religions- how do I know well at some point in time I have been all three…don’t exaggerate about islam…you make yourself sound like a scholar which you are not- obviously you don’t even know what islam is! it sure doesn’t sound like it…All three beliefs are merciful to the believers whose lives are at risk….I think you are missing the point completely about #1- islam #2 jihad #3 adapting to the culture around you for protection #4 you can’t accept the fact that muslims & christians actually can get along- you might want to read what muslims/quran says about Jesus/Issa & Mary/Mariam as it is very beautiful compared to what the Jews have to say…. Get your facts straight before you send out your bigoted views…There is simply co-exsistance: that’s what YOU dont’ get. Jews found refuge in persian & arab lands while the christians were pushing christianity with the sword …literally. The truth hurts, but you’ll get over it. I hope you have a better life that isn’t so full of hate & bigotry.

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posted September 24, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Nice to read a story of folks of different faiths sharing and celebrating together! Interaction is better than shooting each other. Would that the world would follow this example.

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