She arrived during the homily. Walking right up to the statue of Mary Help of Christians, crowned with May flowers and lovingly arranged her small spray in the Virgin’s arms. She genuflected, then crossed to the altar and prostrated herself, before proceeding to sit on the other side.
I recognized her from 6:30 am daily Mass and from the food pantry. I had suspected for some time that she had some kind of mental illness and was perhaps homeless. Though of late, she had been fixing herself up and dressing with more dignity.
My dad, who suffers from dementia, had had a rough week, which I attributed to the heavy overcast. Therefore, I also attributed her strange behavior to that as well. It was the first time I had seen her exhibit such a level of inappropriateness during Mass.
When she went up to serve as a Eucharistic Minister, there was more bowing and prostrating. She held the chalice on the crown of her head and then kissed it. She did offer the Blood of Christ appropriately to the faithful. But when she returned it to the table at the side of the altar, there was more show, and putting it on her head and such. Finally, Father spoke a few quiet words to her and removed the vessel and cloth from her hands. She submissively returned to her seat, with no further exhibition.
All this was difficult for me to observe. I wanted it to end, to not distract me from the Mass. I was irritated. It was wasting my time and distracting me. I was not feeling loving or kind. I realized this and forced myself to be patient.
It was the comments I heard after Mass that angered me. “Someone needs to get that woman off the altar. It was sacrilegious!” Yes, I believe she does need to be gently corrected, perhaps guided into some other area of ministry. Nevertheless, I must take issue with this.
For years now, I have watched this congregation shunt its elderly, disabled, and mentally ill to the side. Even out the door. Making them feel unwelcome and unwanted. Shame on you.
You boast of a school to form young Catholics but then you disrespect the ones who worked for decades to build this church and that school. Who gave of their time, their talent, and their money. Shame on you.
You too will be there. How will you feel when people push you further and further to the door? Did the patron of your parish love his boys but not his parents? Did he tell his mother that he did not need her anymore because her abilities were lagging? Is it only the children and youth who are welcome in the kingdom of God? People can serve many different ways. It is sad when the community only selects the bright, the beautiful, and the young and then complains that there is not enough help.
I have not seen her since the incident. I hope she has not shaken the dust of this community from her shoes. But I fear she has. May she find the love and acceptance she deserves.
The devil does indeed await us just outside the church. We must strive to continue to be the Body of Christ to the world, starting with each other.
Blanketed in the first snow of the season, La Santisima Trinidad radiates hope to the surrounding community of Arroyo Seco, New Mexico. Built in 1834, the historic church stands as a monument to the families who originally settled the area. That the Catholic faith thrived during a period when there were very few priests available to serve the faithful in the rural southwest, is hope to us in these uncertain political times here in the United States.
The ancient brotherhood of the penitentes is primarily responsible for nurturing the faith during this period, though their methods came under scrutiny by church authorities. Nevertheless, despite the severity of some of their practices, there continue to be many Catholics in the mountains and plains of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.
On the day we visited La Santisima Trinidad, we found the church was locked. No one came forth to open it, so we explored. We enjoyed wandering the churchyard and examining the grave markers. They fill the area around the church. The building has obviously been lovingly restored. Learn more about that at the following link for inside pics. Several well-placed benches hint at a pleasant garden in warmer seasons.
Click here to see some lovely pictures of the inside of La Santisima Trinidad:
Once the snow flies and cabin fever sets in, a day trip towards Taos, New Mexico is always fun. Just 80 miles from Santa Fe, the Arroyo Seco area is full of historic sites, alternative housing, and breathtaking scenery. The town of Arroyo Seco, just 7 miles from Taos, hosts a number of boutiques and several eating establishments. Plenty of activity to satisfy the casual tourist despite inclement weather.
What better way to see Rome than with someone who’s loved living and working there for over 30 years? A Holy Year in Rome, by Joan Lewis makes me want to visit Rome again. Gypsies accosted us right inside the church last time I was there. In addition there were death defying encounters with traffic. Not to mention the endless wanderings thru tourist traps. Joan makes Rome come alive with fascinating people and colorful history. She also provides insider travel tips and advice.
A Holy Year in Rome, is subtitled The Complete Pilgrim’s Guide for the Jubilee of Mercy. It begins with a description of the book’s meaning of pilgrimage and shrines. Next comes a glossary of terms. Such Catholic ideas as jubilee, basilica, and cathedral can be difficult to understand. Furthermore, the author explains the concept of holy doors in simple language.
Ms. Lewis gives an interesting history of jubilee years from the first one in 1300, through the current one. She explains why Pope Francis called an extraordinary jubilee. She also points out the significance of the dates of opening and closing this jubilee.
A full chapter is taken up by a self-tour guide book to the 7 pilgrimage basilicas. It features the highlights of each, in an orderly fashion, from entering to exit.
Another chapter contains a history and detailed description of the catacombs and their frescoes, paintings and stuccoes.
One chapter offers a self-guided tour of the vatican city-state.
Yet another is devoted to a history and guide to the pope’s second home, Castlegandalfo.
The book concludes with 3 chapters of Rome-specific travel advice. Joan gives her readers insider tips on navigating and getting the most out of their Rome visit. She also recommends books and links for further reading.
I thank Sophia Institute for providing me with a review copy of A Holy Year in Rome. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.
My home church has been welcoming itinerant musicians for as long as I can remember. St. Anne’s is a small mission church, 50 miles from everywhere in Northern Arizona. When I arrived here, there was a choir and an organist. Within a few years, that entire group had moved on and I became the organist and choir director. I was able to recruit a guitar player who handled the Spanish speaking music. We work well together. He holds the music together now, and graciously welcomes me to join him whenever I am back in town. For years, we have welcomed any musicians traveling through to join us. We have been blessed with some beautiful voices and instruments through the years. We are so hungry for beautiful music. Our pastors have graciously smiled upon this. In such a small community, we are totally dependent upon God’s merciful provision for our spiritual needs. There was even a period of a few years that we relied upon visiting priests only, as we didn’t have a pastor assigned to us. Even then, the Sunday without Mass was rare.
I miss my music ministry when I am on the road. So I am eternally grateful to join in whenever I can. And eternally grateful to step back in as though I never left, when I am home. There are times when I need to sit back and soak in the music ministry of others. But a musician sings and plays, a writer writes, an artist creates because they must. We are driven. It is life to us. We must share or die. And if we die sharing, then life has been good.
2016 is starting out with sunshine and mid 60’s in Southern California. Not as warm as I’d like it, but not as cold as we’ve been. We’ll be heading back to sub-zero temperatures soon enough, so time to soak up that sun!
We’re enjoying time with family and friends; reviewing what worked and didn’t last year, and making plans for new projects this year. Two things in particular for Catholic Traveller: the first is to start offering “Pilgrim Guides” to specific areas. The first will be “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Grand Canyon”, currently in the works. Sign up for updates via our FREE newsletter, Catholic Travels, in the box to the right, or on any page of the website.
Our other major project for the year is to start posting short, travel related videos on our long, inactive youtube channel. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but it is a lot of work shooting, editing, and polishing videos! Updates on that will also be included in Catholic Travels newsletter.
We hope you, too, are enjoying time with family and friends, and making exciting plans for 2016! Don’t forget to plan time to make a pilgrimage, even if it is just to the Holy Doors of the nearest consecrated “pilgrimage church”.