Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, San Juan

[It's a beautiful Spanish colonial building. Photos up soon!]

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.

I think. The bulletin listed readings for the 10th Sunday of ordinary time. "Oh no! We miss Corpus Christi! They celebrated it on Thursday!" But the readings themselves were ... for a Marian Feast? Acts of the Apostles, Revelation and the Wedding at Cana from St. John. No mention was made of the misprint at all ... or, as far as I could tell (the sound system, like those in most old churches, sucked and every word echoed incomprehensibly) at any time during Mass. The celebrant (accompanied by two permanent deacons with deacon's stoles, but in almbs, not dalmatics) wore a gold chasuble though ... [After Mass I wanted to ask the priest about the readings, but there was a longish line waiting to talk with him.]

The music? As the guy with the electric keyboard started the faux drums and maraccas a few minutes before 11, we all flinched involutarily. "J, get ready for this! This is exactly what it sounds like in India!" Dhin-chak music galore. The electric-keyboard-guy took nearly a quarter of an hour to adjust the auditory bells and whistles to the optimum level. Mass started 15 minutes late, with a procession including a statue of El Niño Jesus (The Infant Jesus. However, this one didn't look like the one from Prague ... ), in a bed of carnations, followed by several children carrying carnations. The entrance hymn was to the Infant Jesus, and the bulletin listed the second sunday of the month as "Misa Divino del Niño Jesus." Mass started with a few prayers from a novena to the Infant Jesus.

The homily was quite decent -- a rousing, energetic sermon on the mission of all the baptized, very evangelical, and Christocentric. It had nothing to do with the readings. And the good Monsignor could certainly carry on! (At the end of Mass, after the announcements, he called all the children up to the altar for a special blessing, and delivered another mini homily.)

The congregation -- a few tourists, mainly middle aged and some young families -- seemed to get into the music -- it's the kind of stuff I'd associate with the charismatic renewal, and it certainly had a good beat and rhythm to it. However, as J put it, "I wasn' sure if I was to samba down the isle to receive Holy Communion." I know this is hugely popular all over the world. Not to my taste at all. And both Z and J were quite turned off - not knowing a lick of Spanish didn't help, and I could tell that Mass was getting to be more of an endurance test in the heat and humidity. It just didn't feel reverent. At all.

I must say it was the least prayerfull Mass I can ever recall being at -- in the sense, I couldn't focus on worship or prayer at all as those irritating critical tapes kept playing in my head. Which goes to show just how long a way I have to go.

1 comment:

St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

Izzy often refers to those tapes in his head as being part of his "inner Pharisee."

Recall the Screwtape Letters and what Screwtape told Wormwood to have the parishioners focus on in the pews ...

One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread but through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes I our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather in oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like "the body of Christ" and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains.

(turning on ironic setting)
I think we'd have more time to criticize our neighbors (a' la Screwtape) if we didn't have to spend so much time disliking the music, sermon, vestments, etc. It's absolutely exhausting! ... But we must enjoy it, because all of us do it.
(turning off ironic setting)

So, don't feel alone in your journey. We all have a long way to go, it's just some of us are far more honest about it. Thanks for your transparency.