There was a sense of sadness that lay below the surface of yesterday.
There is a parish less than two miles from my house that I "discovered" last summer. (The church I attend is about 5 miles from my house. Eight minutes instead of four.) I had always driven the extra distance because the church close to my house is one that was created 30 years or so ago to serve part of the African-American community in town, and I figured I would not fit in very well. My parish is a nice mixture of races and ages, and I love it. But last summer, I was looking for a daily Mass that I could attend on days that my parish did not have 6:30 Mass and still make it to my summer job on time. The 7:00 Mass at the parish near my house fit the bill perfectly, and the need for Mass was greater than the need to fit in.
So one morning, I showed up there. Of the couple of dozen people there, four of us, including the priest, were white. It was love at first sight. I think I smiled all day after my first Mass there. Understand that I love my parish. I love my priest. I love the blessed silence before Mass. I love the quiet during daily Mass. I think my church is beautiful. I love the people. It is wonderful. And this parish was none of this. I love the priest (and his parishioners were quick to tell me that they do, too). I love the singing before and during Mass. I love the devotions before and after. I love the enthusiasm. I love that the people are nearly jumping over the pew to grab your hand during the Our Father. The church is nothing special to look at on the outside, but is always beautifully decorated on the inside. The people were so welcoming to me. By the end of my second Mass there, little old black ladies were hugging me on the way out. Wonderful comes in more than one size.
I was sorry when summer was over, because that meant my time with these people was coming to an end. 7:00 Mass doesn't work with my schedule at all during school, but I am able to attend during school holidays. My boys were out of school the week after Easter, and they came with me one morning (a little over a week ago) to this parish. It was beautifully decorated in Easter finery celebrating the Resurrection.
On Friday, there was a fire at this church. I was so sad to hear this. I know that I would be devastated if this happened at my parish. I want to help, but I have no idea how. There was no Mass this weekend at their parish. Our priest welcomed any visitors from the parish and told them our thoughts and prayers were with them, although I have no idea if we had any visitors from there. My heart goes out to them.
Further making it a sad day, were allegations of sexual misconduct regarding another priest in a neighboring diocese. This is the priest that presided at my step-grandmother's funeral. I just wish all of this stuff would stop, but I realize that's the presence of evil in our world.
This coming week is a 3 day work week. And that's a good thing!