Sunday, March 27, 2005

Felize Pascual!

So, it being Easter and all, I decided to go to church. I know fom my rides down to the beach that there exists one St. Mark Catholic Church and Education Center along Eastwood Avenue, which made it well within biking distance, so that's where I went for the five o'clock evening Mass.

I was handed a songbook on the way in, and figured, correctly, that's how things are done there. Or, that's what I thought until I saw a hymnal already in the pew. It was at this point that I looked around, taking note of how, well, brown most of the other attendees were. I do realize that I live in the South now, and given the overwhelming practicing Catholic bent of the Central and South American immigrant communities, this ethnic makeup is to be expected. Just because the surnames of the local church families in the West Park section of Cleveland were Corrigan and Sweeny and Kilbaine and McCaffery doesn't mean the whole of the Church is of Irish descent. I then noticed that the songbook I was handed on the way in is written in Spanish, and that, as the Mass began, that's what the priest was saying it in, and that I was going to have to follow a Spanish/English program located near the hymnal. It seemed to me a mite curious that no one felt any need to note on the sign (written in English) out front that the evening service was in a language other than English, and wondered further if I was the only one who had made this mistake. I mean, really, since half the people at an Easter srvice are attending the first of two Masses they will attend annually, it might be helpful for a parish to point them toward a service time in which their respective vernacular is employed. Sure, the program was helpful and the Spanish singing was nice, but other than the dozen or so words I figured out (via proximity to French/Latin) by midway through the Mass, the homily was a bit beyond me. I got from a lot of "nuestros" that Heysoos died for our sins, but couldn't work out much beyond that. I felt like all those poor pre-Vatican II kids suffering through the Latin Mass.

If my Reflective Catholic Rhetoric weren't so rusty, I'd no doubt observe that the Lord sent me to that particular church for some as-yet unarticulated reason in His plan, but I'm not really of that habit. I'm glad, in an odd way, that I went, and may even go again and see what Spanish I might pick up from the hymns. But I am sincerely puzzled that a church whose sign out front is in English, whose daytime services are apparently in English, felt no need to make note of the small departure from form for the evening edition. You have to coddle us C&E folk if you want us to come back more often.

Happy Easter to all nonetheless. I hope yours was at least as blessed as mine was interesting.

8 Comments:

Blogger Jason said...

Oddly I had a rather similar experience going to Mass in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The sign outside was Our Lady of Something, but the whole service was in Irish, which I didn't discover until I opened the Hymnal for the opening song. However, one of the nice things about Catholicism is that the liturgy is standardized, so that outside of the Homily (Sermon), you know what's going on. I've also been to Mass in Latin, German, and Polish, and each time it was rather interesting, if quite dull for a 10-20 minute stretch in the middle.

Mon Mar 28, 06:21:00 AM EST  
Blogger Natalie said...

Fascinating. Sounds like entering a portal to another dimension -- from Wilmington to Central America. Funny about the C & E's I was thinking of that term when I was waiting in traffic for the shuttle buses(!) from shopping center to the Catholic church to pass by.

Mon Mar 28, 09:12:00 AM EST  
Blogger The Evil Jeremy. said...

Yeah, Jason (And what the hell are you doing reading my blog while touring Asia? Go see something!), the fact that the liturgy is standardized allows for: 1) anyone to follow along, anywhere, with the noted annoying exception of the homily, and; 2) daily English/whatever Mass programs to be published in a bizillion different languages. I almost felt like I was at the opera. There was a funny moment during the Profession of Faith in which the program helpfully instructed "all bow during these two lines." I thought "my head has been bowed for the entire service, 'cuz I'm reading it off this program."

At least this church (clearly a fairly new building)still had kneelers, if remarkably cushy ones, unlike a lot of new suburban Catholic churches that don't have them at all. I think that's how the Church kept two millenia of children awake--when the Mass starts to drag a bit and the kids are nodding off...everybody kneel! I chuckle as I write this, thinking of some Roman kid in 419 AD nodding off to an Augustine sermon.

Shuttle buses, Natalie? I do believe that's one of the most delightfully silly things I've heard recently. Do the UU's make a to-do over Easter? Just curious, really.

Mon Mar 28, 01:32:00 PM EST  
Anonymous little sister said...

My Easter mass was the least spiritual experience I think I've ever head. It was at St Vincent de Paul. They have no cry room, thus the church was full of crying babies and the parents didn't bother to take them outside when they got really loud. There was a set of toddler twins behind me that kept kicking the pews and slamming the kneelers up and down. The priest was about a hundred years old and so soft spoken you could hardly hear him. The homily was even worse, b/c the microphone was so far from his mouth, but I did catch the part at the end when he wished us all a blessed and happy CHRISTMAS. The woman leading the singing was out of tune and three octaves higher than any person in the pews, and the organist couldn't keep time. Awful. Maybe that's how they punish C&E's.

Mon Mar 28, 02:45:00 PM EST  
Blogger Natalie said...

The UUs are apologetic about the whole question of Jesus'divinity, so they compensate by having fantastic music on Easter. Apologetic in the sense of "um, we don't know exactly what to do, since we have a lot of different belief systems, so we'll have a reading about Demeter and Persephone for the pagans, a reading about Jews being released from Egypt as a metaphor for renewal and a story about Jesus and his radical acts during his life. "

I enjoyed it, but if I were the type of person to demand definite and concrete answers, I probably would feel differently.

Mon Mar 28, 03:27:00 PM EST  
Blogger The Evil Jeremy. said...

Natalie,
I might be comfortable at a UU gathering, as (please parents, don't make today your first visit here)I am in no way of the Catholic doctrinal orthodoxy in terms of the Virgin Birth, Divinity of Christ, or Resurection. I don't specifically disbelieve in those things, but it certainly sounds like a lot of hogwash and the appeal of the religion (I like its formality and ceremony, as well as its preoccupation with mystery) for me lies entirely outside of those areas. So I just ignore them, which of course means that I've gutted the very essence of the faith. At the same time, I wouldn't feel comfortable at a a Protestant service (aside from maybe an Episcopalian one, which isn't much different), so when I am of a churchgoing disposition, Catholicism still gets my foot-vote. I'm probably more of a Bhuddist than anything, and finding English-language Bhuddist temples in middling burgs in the South is not as easy as one mighy assume. Plus they don't celebrate Easter, and would hence deprive us all of this discussion.

Mon Mar 28, 04:41:00 PM EST  
Blogger Giant Bladder said...

You know I tried to get your "Mass in Spanish" experience out of the way in Mexico but noooo you had to keep us out drinking. I visit Cancun for religious and cultural exchanges and you make me go to bars, strip clubs and a place I won't reveal until you're up for tenure.

However, the Mass is the same just about everywhere: music, calisthenics, snack, go home. It was so much better when He smited my enemies.

Besides, Will The Language On The Sign Match The Language Spoken Indoors is a game I play every day in Denver.

Mon Mar 28, 04:49:00 PM EST  
Blogger The Evil Jeremy. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tue Mar 29, 04:54:00 AM EST  

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