Big Church Little Church

I have to admit, I am partial to little churches and missions. My “home” congregation consists of about 60 families. I like the intimacy, the colorful characters, even the feuding. To me, it is so much more like a family. Yes, we have our differences, we frequently do not get along, but we pull together in times of crisis and need. It is our Catholic life.

In a big church, I feel lost. There seem to be so many people and so much to do. I lose focus. I get complacent. There are too many choices. The children are sent out during Mass, not taught to sit quietly, participate fully and honor the Sacrament. The music is modernized to entertain and attract an audience. Just my take on things.

Inside tiny Stella Maris, Lamar, TX

I walk in to a big, modern Catholic church and I can’t find the holy water. I want to bless myself with it when I walk in and when I walk out. It is a sacramental reminder of my devotion. Now, there is usually one large font, instead of the small ones at each door. I feel funny walking up to that big baptismal pond to use the holy water, then find my way out.

St. Anne’s, Deming, NM


I still want to genuflect when I enter the pew where I am going to sit. I am here for Mass and I want to honor my Host. I want to put the kneeler down and spend some quiet time in prayer and thanksgiving before and after Mass.  Most often, now, the Blessed Sacrament is not even kept in the main part of the church, but in an attached adoration chapel. I guess that’s okay for big churches.

View from Lake Lodge rec room, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming

On this pilgrimage of slow travel, I have attended Mass in churches in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas. It is always an adventure, come Saturday, to find out where we will be attending Mass on Sunday. The Holy Eucharist is always nourishing and enriching. Small churches just ensnare my heart. St. Anne’s in Ash Fork and St. Francis in Seligman, Arizona, where I had the honor of leading the music for 15 years. The rec room of the Lake Lodge in Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, where we attended when we were there for my daughter’s wedding. St. Anne’s in Deming, NM, where we worshiped after a long night of trying to find a campsite in the dark. Stella Maris, outside of Goose Island SP, Texas, where we shivered on top of an AC vent, until someone realized it was cold outside and in and turned it off. The pastor there had recently been healed of stage 4 cancer and spoke confidently about God’s merciful love and healing. 

This week of our full-time rving life, this awesome road trip, we will be celebrating Ash Wednesday in a big church in Texas and we will be grateful to have found another spiritual home on the road.

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Wild Horses of Route 66

Route 66, or more appropriate for this blog post, Will Rogers Highway, passes through miles of open range, BLM land and private ranch land in Arizona. The longest existing stretch of Will Rogers Highway is between Ash Fork, Arizona and Kingman, Arizona. This is where you can see herds of wild horses grazing alongside range cattle. If you’re lucky, you might even see a fast freight train on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, bringing goodies to Los Angeles from all points east, while you’re stopped to admire the horses.

Talk about a Sunday drive! I get to see this herd on my way back to Ash Fork from Seligman, after playing for Sunday Mass there at St. Francis Catholic Church. Sometimes I even see them from Interstate 40 on my way there from St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Ash Fork.


This curious little fellow spies me and wants to know what I’m up to. The others studiously ignore me. I don’t believe that this is a BLM herd, so my guess is that they are owned by whomever holds the grazing lease on this particular stretch of land. I have come to think of them as “my herd” and look for them whenever I come this way. There is a certain water hole near a blocked off bridge where my youngest son and I have spent many a Sunday hour watching the trains and the horses while picnicking on sandwiches and fruit. 


Every year it is exciting to see the new foals and watch them grow. This year, with all of our wonderful rain, the horses had plenty of water to frolic and cool off in. I tried hard to get some good shots of them playing in the water, but they came out too blurry or too late. I’ll sure miss these guys when we head out on the road full-time. One more item on the list of heartbreaking choices I’ve had to make. I look forward, however, to discovering new herds in new places and especially to having some new adventures to share with you as we travel the Western United States and wherever else God in His good humor decides to take us on our pilgrimage of life.

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