Unsmiling disbelief

main altar in church

Sunday evening (bilingual) Mass at St. Cecilia’s in Los Fresnos, TX was— how do I put this delicately— interesting and unlike anything Steven and I had ever experienced before.  While the setting was lovely and inviting with lots of concrete benches in the churchyard and parishioners were cordial and glad to see visitors, the pastor was such an outlier that we didn’t know whether to be amused or concerned.

After Mass, I googled the priest on my tablet the moment we got back to our vehicle.  I wanted to understand why we’d been subjected to such unorthodox behavior during Mass.  The man had read the day’s written gospel interspersed with his own personal statements!  Who does that?

To make matters worse, the homily was tasteless and totally bizarre.  Was the priest having an off day?  Was he drunk?  Was he high?  Was this his usual comportment— or just theatrics for effect?  We’d never seen or heard anything like it!

Sitting on the fifth pew on the left before the ambo I sat there in unsmiling disbelief as my mind wandered momentarily.  What would Bishop Danny say?  Does he know?  Has anyone checked on the parish?  Don’t priests get evaluated the way teachers do?  Or is any priest better than none?  I missed Fr. George’s power-packed homily back home, but I’d appreciate him that much more soon enough.

Having visited a plethora of sacred spaces in my lifetime, I’ve seen and heard things that make me wonder how good people put up with what they face day in and day out within their parishes.  And, while I’ve never asked about church dynamics (because it’s not my place to do so), I’ve been told by some that they’ve “prayed for years” for a down-to-earth, welcoming priest instead of one who resents his assignment.  But we’ve also delighted in beautiful celebrations that make us want to belong.

So, except for mentally preparing for the photo opportunities— statues, stained-glass windows, stations of the cross— preconceived notions and expectations aren’t really part of the plan.  We’re usually so eager to experience a new church community that we count the days until our first visit.

Like crushing on a first love, we look ahead to that wonderful, memorable experience— the church, the people, the priest— that will remain with us going forward.  That said, St. Cecilia’s facebook page has positive comments.  Some parishioners love their church, so we’ll keep an open mind when we attend Mass in English next time.

          

                 

                 

                 

       

   

          

          

          

   

           

Prayer

Light of the World, enlighten our minds with wisdom and enkindle our hearts with compassion.  Let our moments of blindness be brief and instructive, so that we may never truly lose vision but, rather, gain insight as we seek to serve you in our brothers and sisters.  We ask this in your most holy name.  Amen (Larry Livingston from Unbound).

O glorious St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr, you won the martyr’s crown without renouncing your love for Jesus, the delight of your soul.  We ask that you help us to be faithful in our love for Jesus so that, in the communion of the saints, we may praise him twice in our song of rejoicing for the blood that he shed which gave us the grace to accomplish his will on earth.  Amen.

Quote

Arise, soldiers of Christ!  Throw away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (St. Cecilia)

Links of interest…  St. Cecilia: life / miracles / Nov 22 / novena (more) / patron of music / prayers (more) / quotes / story…  Help my unbelief…  St. Cecilia Church: facebook / Mass times

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