Sunday, March 18, 2007

I went to Mass today

Parroquia Santa Rosa de Lima en Venus Gardens. What a refreshing service. I was so blessed. The church was alive with young people, a significant worship, reverence for the holiness of God, good humor, a sermon full of compassion, yet deep, moving, and poignant discussion on the parable of the prodigal son explained on the personal level and on the national level with how Puerto Rico has turned it's back on God, and that it needs to confess its sin and come home to God repentant. There was so much beauty in that Mass that lasted for over an hour and a half, with contemporary music, the reading of the scriptures from Joshua 5:9a, 10-12, Psalm 33, 1 Corinthians 4, St Luke 15 and other spoken liturgy which was immersed in the Word of God, praising God for his omnipotence and omniscience that when I left I felt fully fed, ready to face the trials that I will meet this week.

Since I am not Catholic, the only time I felt a bit uncomfortable was when I couldn't join the rest of the congregation at their particular prayers. I would have enjoyed participating in their interactive gestures like lifting their hands to the Lord as they prayed which bring you into worship, or saying some of the phrases that are memorized and chanted at particular times in the mass which unite this mass to tradition and continuity from the time Mass was said originally. I know I can buy a little liturgy book, and maybe I will because frankly I enjoy worshipping God in the Catholic Church occasionally. I know God speaks to me many times in the unexpected. One of the unexpected was the soft sound of bells which took me back to my first recollection of hearing them.

It was at Mother Cabrini Church in the middle 1960's. I remember entering one wing of the L shaped building with a side view of the altar. I was only 13 or 14, wearing a mantilla, a head covering for women of all ages. You entered quietly into the cool still room with its wooden with benches and kneeling planks (lacking a better word, because I know it must exist), and hearing the tiny bells or chimes, which I again heard last night. Then there were lots of mini skirts and a lot of look at me dresses and the Mass was in Latin. It seemed to me that people were not coming to church to learn about God. I was thirsty for Jesus and I didn't find him there. It wasn't just Mother Cabrini, it was the whole church. It was in turmoil and didn't know it, being challenged by social upheavals and many times out of touch about the realities being lived in society. So I kept seeking God elsewhere and I found (or should I say, he found me) him. God says that those who seek him shall find him.

Yet, last night, the Word was so evident and the worship so holy, that yes the presence of God was in that place. It is no longer out of touch. There was relevant significant worship yet the solemnity had not been sacrificed. I left very encouraged. It was wonderful to worship with my other brothers and sisters in Christ in the beauty of his presence and to be edified for the week ahead. I don't know about Mother Cabrini today, but Rosa de Lima as well as other Catholic Churches, I have visited recently, are strong. People can meet Jesus there and have a personal relationship with Him. Praise the Lord.

1 comment:

Ana said...

I think you saw some of the lasting effects of Pope John Paul II's tenure. I hope that Pope Benedict with his dislike of contemporary music and fondness for Latin, doesn't squash that.

I am so glad that you felt refreshed. You go back to Florida in a few days and I hope you only have good experiences there.