Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Post-Mass Experience

This week found us again at the 7:30 PM Sacrifice of the Mass at Our Lady of Victory-St. Joseph's Church, "The Little French Church That Has Served Downtown Since 1868". Tonight, as Mass ended, something weird happened. A new-ager once told me to welcome coincidences, because they meant that you were on the right path. Maybe there's something in that.

Father Antinarelli's homily, or "harangue" as he called it, was based on one of this week's many atrocities, a story that you read here on this blog — Murder of an Aussie Baseballer in America. Yes, society is going to hell in a hand-basket. Yes, it's all because of the libruls, I agree. Planned Parenthood is satanic. But I was left wanting something more than a Pat Buchanan article for a homily. What about some solutions? Prayer, penance, the giving of alms?

Better question, do I really want my kids to think that Holy Mother Church is just a place for angry right-wingers like their dad? This question came to me when my daughter turned to me during the homily and asked, "Why is he shouting?"

This got me thinking. The Church of Saint Jerome, which we joined not long ago, isn't that bad. No heterodoxy. She offers the Mass with more reverence than just about any other American parish I've assisted. She's close to home. I'll try to go back next week, if I can get up for 10:00 Mass, I thought.

Then, after Mass had ended, we sang a hymn to the tune of Martin Luther's Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott, bringing me back to my upbringing in High-Church Lutheranism. I planned some way of wittily interjecting my Lutheran past in introducing myself to Father Antinarelli, but gave up on the idea, realizing that my conversion story isn't really all that interesting.

Then, as we sang, I noticed a figure standing on the wing of the sanctuary, dressed in black. "What's a cop doing here?" I thought. No, it was Father Leone! St. Jerome's parish priest. My daughter sees him, too, nudges me, points at him with her thumb, as Koreans do. "What's he doing here?" she asks, answering herself, "Maybe he's looking for us since we haven't been to his church in a while." I try not to make eye-contact, but suspect he's seen me. Then, after the hymn is over, we light a candle and he's gone.

Father Leone, I latter surmised, is probably a friend of Father Antinarelli. The former does share the latter's conservatism, both political and liturgical, but wears it less on his sleeve, not that I mind that in any way. Father Leone as a homilist does not shy away from the cultural rot that is evident to anyone, but he also mentions stories of profound love whose protagonists are people like fire-fighters, handicapped parishioners, old forgotten people, etc. I have been moved close to tears a few times with his simple stories.

So, next week, if I wake up early enough, I'll head back to St. Jerome's, and if not, back to Our Lady of Victory. Probably follow that plan for a while.

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