52 Churches 52 Weeks

Worship Exploration Journey

Week 38 – St. James – Roman Catholic

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On the 4th Sunday of each month St. James celebrates the Mass in Swahili for African Catholics. Except for today because of Lent! My mom and I will have to circle back around after Easter to attend what I expect to be a very interesting cultural experience. I am especially looking forward to hearing the African Choir. It’s amazing to me that people can travel a world and a half away and still find their little jewel in the desert where they can hear Mass in their own language. Faithful people with a common bond do tend to find one another. It makes me happy for them.

Today’s Priest was very upbeat and positive. With a beautiful purple robe and a thick African accent he conducted the first Mass of Lent and reminded us that Lent is a time of sorrow and sadness. We learn to rely on God to guide us through our journey. Sometimes we are lost and we must go back or recalculate; much like our GPS does. We should proceed with caution, prayer and fasting. Lent is a time to recalculate our course to be in alignment with God’s will. God does not want us to be lost. Jesus came to show us the way.

And then it hit me! I realized that I don’t actually even know what Lent is. I know it comes right after Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. I know that New Orleans and Rio De Janeiro have a very big party – I suspect a greeting card company might be responsible. I know that the Wednesday following the gluttonous day of partying is Ash Wednesday but I don’t actually know what that means either. What is the marking of the ashes on the head symbolic of? Is that a Catholic thing or do other churches do that too? I know that people obsess about what they are going to give up for 40 days so that they can suffer in some small measure just as Jesus suffered for us. I don’t think I have ever really given up anything. It is like a New Year’s resolution that only last a few days? If I were to give up something it would have to be cussing or spending money or dwelling on things I simply cannot control but I am not even sure that this is in the correct spirit of Lent. I guess it’s time to break out my Catholic For Dummies book!

The more I sit in various houses of worship, the more I get hooked to the idea of the story and how well it is expressed so that someone like me could ever hope to get a clue. I have heard words, words, words, words my whole life and unless I have a point of reference I am culturally illiterate. Church is really a weekly snippet and you have to be actively listening. My sister once told me that The Chronicles of Narnia mirror the bible. Uh? Never would have guessed that one. It also makes me wonder how many other people there are just like me sitting in pews across America who let it all just wash over them and not hear the message or the gift that we are meant to. Maybe it’s time to ask for a new God Positioning System to get me found. 🙂

Ash Wednesday Explained! http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2001/02/Ash-Wednesday-Primer.aspx

And I found this explanation of Lent – http://reflections.cyberpastor.net/bible/what-is-lent/

And the link to St. James Roman Catholic Church – We will be back for the Swahili Mass! http://www.stjames-greater.com/


One thought on “Week 38 – St. James – Roman Catholic

  1. Lent is a time where traditionally you remove something from your life that keeps you separated from God. More modern churches that also celebrate Lent sometimes perform some form of community service which I think is a great idea.

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