Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mass - an addition to my list of "50 new things"

En el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo

We attended a Catholic Mass while we were on vacation last week. This event, in and of itself, is not so remarkable since two of the three of us, at an earlier time in our lives, were members of this denomination. The truly incredible thing about this event is that the mass was spoken entirely in SPANISH.

Why did we go to a Catholic, Spanish-spoken mass, you may be asking? To worship, of course. And, it was great - even though the only words we could identify were Jesus, Dios, madre de dios, Padre, Senor (Lord), hosanna, aleluya and amen. We could understand enough to follow along.

We entered a small room on the resort that was set up for the worship service. There were rows of chairs, all dressed in white coverings. Someone had placed a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a table at the front of the room - the only indications this room was set up for a religious service. At the back, by the door, there were several fliers provided so we could follow the service. They were the readings for the day (in several different languages). And, in addition, someone had thoughtfully provided an Order for Worship that contained the worship service written in parallel columns - one in Spanish and the other in English and some other language I could not identify. This allowed the non-Spanish speaking people, like us, to at least pretend we knew what was happening and when.

The priest finally arrived about 10 minutes after the service was scheduled to begin - the Mexican clock moves a little more slowly, we learned. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and sporting a backpack. No clerical collar could be seen. We weren't sure he was the priest until he began changing into his vestments. This made everyone feel more comfortable  - at least those of us who were practicing catholics at a previous time.

My favorite parts of the service were the singing, the offering of the peace and sharing Communion.

The singing was awesome even though I didn't know the songs. There was a woman sitting in front of us that sang loud and proud. It was a very small room so the sound that filled the room rang off of the walls. To me, there is nothing better than hearing voices lifted to God in praise and with one heart. I could not understand a word that was being sung and, yet, I found my eyes begin to sting and my heart was full.

I sat there thinking, "Wow, who knew God could understand all these languages?" Intellectually, I believe that God knows all, understands all and listens to all. However, this experience was a lesson in the truth of this belief.

The  Offering of Peace was also a great experience. It was so sweet to hold hands with other believers and share God's Peace. Again, we could not understand the words that were spoken and we could understand what was being offered from our hearts. God's peace! Pretty powerful.

We were a little nervous about Communion. We all really wanted to share. However, in the Catholic church, the sacraments of Communion are only offered to those who are members of the Catholic faith. This theology is different from my own and that is a blog to explore on another day. However, in spite of not being able to share the physical sacraments - I still left there full. It was a reverent time for me. I realized that "communion" was happening between all of us in that room - Catholic or otherwise. God's love was a living presence between us regardless of whether we broke the bread together and shared the cup.

I learned lots of things that morning. I learned some Spanish words - like Senor is the word they use for Lord. I learned that the woman in front of us tolerated no disrespect in God's house - this was taught when she leaned forward and told the young man in front of her to pull up his pants (they were sagging south, a bit).

And, by far, the most important thing I learned is that God speaks the language of Love with a voice of Love and it is easy to understand - if only I listen with my heart.

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