On May 5, 2013, Steven and I attended Mass at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin. We’d visited during Advent almost two and a half years before when we’d vowed to return one day soon, so we felt quite blessed to finally be there again.
Except for the physical signs of a major restoration project underway on the tower and the façade, all else was the same. The church community was genuinely welcoming; the choir, robustly ethereal; the homilist, focused on gratitude.
What a God-filled day!
Blessings and gratitude
After Mass, the choir heartily rewarded us with one last song. Everyone applauded gratefully, and the organist continued to play.
Captivated by the majestic notes filling every nook and cranny within the church, we lingered motionlessly, savoring each melodic morsel to the very end. Then we applauded enthusiastically a second time.
“Wow! This is truly different from our church,” I said to Steven.
“Look. One of the ladies is taking flowers up to Mary’s altar.”
I turned to see a woman carrying a rather large bouquet of fresh, long-stemmed flowers as she walked to the main altar. What were they for? Something special after eleven o’clock Mass?
“Are you going to take pictures?” Steven asked.
“I’d like to. This time I want some good photos of the stained-glass windows. This is such a beautiful place! And the music? Oh, my goodness. It’s just amazing.”
The young woman who’d been listening to the music from her pew made eye contact with me as she stepped into the aisle next to us. “Thank you,” she said, smilingly acknowledging my effusive compliments.
“Are you a parishioner?” I asked.
The young woman nodded.
“So you enjoy this all the time? This is our second visit here. The music is just heavenly!”
“We’re very spoiled,” the young woman twinkled.
“Yes!” I agreed.
“I was going to a different parish until I got married. My husband was a parishioner here, so this is our church now. We’re spoiled rotten.”
“Enjoy for the rest of us who can’t be here every Sunday!”
“I will. I think of that. I think of the people in all the places I’ve been to in my travels. Some worship in makeshift churches, and our dear Lord is there nonetheless. From now on I’m going to enjoy this place for you all.”
St. Mary revisited
Next, a man of the cloth approached. “Hi, are you visiting?”
“Yes,” I softly replied, waiting for Steven to say something.
“Yes. We’re from Port Aransas,” Steven told him.
“Port Aransas. Lovely place.”
“Good morning, Father,” I said without realizing that the man was a deacon.
“Good morning. How are you doing?”
“Just fine,” I said, as Steven mentioned to him that my recording device was still on. “It’s that I have a personal blog,” I explained. “I’ve posted about this church before, and I’m going to do it again. I just love this place! Earlier, I was telling a young woman, a parishioner, that you all are so blessed to be here every Sunday.”
“This glass came from Germany; the glass up there in the nave came from France. The Carmelite nuns in France made that.”
“Really? I correspond with a Carmelite Sister in Goonellabah, Australia. She’ll be thrilled to learn that, so I’ll definitely send her a photo.”
“The window in the nave came a long time ago,” the deacon added.
“And the church was built when?” I asked.
“Around the Civil War, but the parish started before then. The church was completed in 1892, I believe,”
twenty years after having been commissioned.
“This time around you all are fixing up the façade?”
“What happened is that some stones were falling from the bell tower. When some of the stones were replaced, the workers determined that more stones might fall off. They did a large renovation of all the stonework; and they did this other tower, too. Then, in checking the rose window, they found that it was also compromised. Some of the wood was splitting, so they’ve taken the window out and are repairing all that wood. They’re putting in some stainless-steel braces to hold the glass together.”
“Anything and everything to preserve the beauty of this sacred space,” I added.
“We are lucky to have this beautiful church,” smiled the soft-spoken deacon.
“And we look forward to returning, believe me. Thank you, Father.”
“Deacon Vince,” he gently corrected me. “It’s good to meet you.” The deacon shook Steven’s hand and started to walk away.
“God bless you,” I said, before resuming my picture taking.
For the grace of love… O Mary, my dear Mother, how much I love you! And yet in reality how little! You teach me what I ought to know, for you teach me what Jesus is to me and what I ought to be for Jesus. Dearly beloved Mother, how close to God you are, and how utterly filled with him! In the measure that we know God, we remind ourselves of you. Mother of God, obtain for me the grace of loving my Jesus; obtain for me the grace of loving you!
Heartfelt request… Mary, my dearest mother, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility that I may receive Jesus as you did— and go in haste to give him to others (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta).
In time of need… May we be assisted, we ask, O Lord, by the worshipful intercession of your glorious mother, the ever Virgin Mary, that we, who have been enriched by her perpetual blessings, may be delivered from all dangers and, through her loving kindness, made to be one heart and mind. Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.
Links of interest… Discerning hearts (blog; downloads)… Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page / prayers (miracles / more / novena / queen of angels) / untier of knots… St. Mary Cathedral: about / Mary, blessed virgin / Mass times / nave prayer requests / restoration / visitors / website… the Word among us…
WP posts… Angels keeping watch… Building community… Faces of Mary… Faith and prayer… Familiar yet new… Franciscan experience… Franciscan treasures… Guadalupe Church… Heart of hearts… Lady of sorrows… Lourdes novenas… Marian devotions… Mary’s miraculous medal… Mary’s seven joys… May flowers… My Franciscan Crown… Our Lady… Our Lady’s church… Painted churches… Repeated prayers… San Juan Diego… St. Mary Cathedral… St. Mary’s… Time well spent