Saturday, August 12, 2006

strange experience

Yesterday my husband and I felt like going to the 7 PM Mass at a local church. We went in, sat down, prayed and meditated. Around 6:45ish a group of Latinos came in carrying a Senor de Los Milagros crucifix and a Divino Nino statue. Then one of them walked up to us and curtly asked if we had come for Mass. My first inclination was to say, "Yeah, buddy, what's it to ya?" but I was sitting right in front of the Blessed Sacrament so I simply said, "Yes."

He frowned and looked like he was passing a kidney stone. "Do you know Rosa?," he asked. Umm no, dude. He gave us a what the heck are you people doing here look and went away frowning. Another man glanced curiously at us and started working on the electric candles for the mini shrine in front of the Divine Child.

Rocky and I hadn't been to this church in a while so we guessed that the schedule had changed and that this was going to be a Spanish Mass. We were about to go find a bulletin and decide whether to stay or leave when the priest walked in. He stared at us and began speaking in Spanish. I got up, genuflected and headed for the door. Rocky followed. Some of the people in the pews seemed happy to see us go. We checked the bulletin and sure enough the 7 PM has been changed to Spanish but still the reactions we got seemed odd. I realize that the Mass was in Spanish but does than mean no non-Spanish speaking people are allowed to attend? When did that rule get put in place? No-one was overtly mean to us but we clearly got the vibe that we didn't belong. Catholic means universal. I guess they've forgotten that is this parish. My husband and I won't be dropping by again.


Christine said...

That is weird.

Shouldn't anyone be welcome at Mass, no matter what language it is in?

I sat in on a Korean mass once! lol

But noone should be made to feel unwelcome in a church...ever.

DilexitPrior said...

Call me crazy, but I go to Masses in different languages just for fun! :-)

I usually try and follow it up with an English Mass if I've got time (that way I don't feel like I totally missed the Gospel, Homily, and Readings. . .)

I went to a Spanish Mass once and got a lot of people staring at me. I'm sure they were thinking "What the heck is this freckled pale faced Irish-Scottish Canadian doing in a Spanish Mass?!" And I even speak Spanish. Ah well. Such is life.

If I were you I would have stayed. Even if the parishoners or the priest didn't make you feel welcome, Jesus still wanted you there!

Andy Nowicki said...

Out of curiosity, Dymphna, do you have any idea what the reaction of these Latino worshippers would have been if you and your husband had been white? Do you think it would have been the same, worse, or possibly better?

I ask because I've heard that in some segments of the country tensions are quite high between blacks and "browns."

Of course it goes without saying that everyone should be welcomed to a Mass, regardless of ethnic background. But it's a sad fact that ethnic pride is more of a factor than true Catholic conviction among many folk.

Dymphna said...

Andy, I'm not sure. There is a lot of tension between blacks and Latinos in Virginia. Mostly the two groups dance around each other. I suspect that the Spanish Mass at this church is like private party and they just didn't want any strangers. At any rate I'm not going back unless I check the bulletin first.

Jovan-Marya Weismiller, T.O.Carm. said...

I would contact the Pastor, if I were you, and tell him of your experience.

Christine said...

If it did have something to do with race, that is even is very hypocritical to practice prejudice and/or racism in Church.

Of course it is offensive anywhere, but especially in Church.

hilary said...

hoo yeah, that idea of making the Mass into a little fragmented language-based cultus was GREAT wasn't it?

The vernacular languages really brought the Church into a new age.

Carolina Cannonball said...

he he, I go to different language masses for fun too? Glad I am not the only one.

I agree with the comment to contact the parishner... that is absurd.

Dymphna said...

I'm going to write a short little letter to the pastor. It will be interesting to see how or if he responds.

Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

This is what happens when "inculturation" is the order of the day.

We're Catholics of the Latin Rite, correct? Oops, we're Catholics of the Latin Rite who worship in English, Spanish, Albanian, Mongolian, Swahili, Danish, Hawaiian, Urdu, Polish, Sign Language, Semiphore, Fortin, Smoke Signals... ohhhh, my head's spinning!!

Orwell had it right -- "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others"

PS, isn't the whole "worship in the present day language" on of the cornerstones of that theoligical gangster, martin luther?

Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Oops, one thing I forgot to add.

NONE OF US should ever go to Mass "for fun". Mass is for the worship of God Almighty. If anything, it should be spiritually joyus.

If you want "fun", go to an amusment park.