Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Back on terra firma

God has--in His infinite wisdom, in my considered opinion--seen to it we have had the same number of landings as takeoffs; and so we find ourselves back in SoFla after a week in SoCal, trading in air we can see for air we can feel.

We had intended to sneak up (down? out?) to Alhambra, CA (site of the Carmelite mother house) for Mass on Sunday the 4th, but our plans to do so were foiled by a nefarious combination of factors, not the least of which was that we had NO IDEA where the place was, and with my having not been blessed with a sense of direction* it seemed foolhardy to wing it. Still, our hearts were with our Carmelite friends and all the Carmelites resting up/shaping up at Carmelite Central in the off-season. (We made it a special point to pray for Carmelite vocations.)

Since our plans to spring ourselves upon unsuspecting Carmelites were dashed, we decided to attend Mass at St. Boniface, partly because it's run by Jesuits and partly because it was one of the two closest**--and clearly the easiest--to find from Disneyland. What struck me was that the congregation turned out to be OVERWHELMINGLY Vietnamese (we attended Mass in English, since we're not that brave), with an odd smattering of Mexicans and tourists like us (our Mickey-intensive apparel gave us all away).

What was cool about this is that it reminded me of the "catholic" part of Catholic. When Christ said to baptize all the nations, it's obvious He wasn't messing around or speaking rhetorically. Which then led me to think back of different places where I have gone to Mass...little chapels, grand cathedrals, missions***, churches that are unquestioningly beautiful and/or historic, or modern/modern. Places where the congregation looked either Mediterranean, Celtic, Slavic, indigenous, African-American or even a genetic boullabaise like --ta-da!--the It's A Small World poster.

It was monumentally uplifting to realize what a grand, beautiful family in faith we have scattered throughout the world, all heaping (deserved) praise to God, worshipping Him and all redeemed by the same Christ, without regard to any demographic station. So, even if God is omnipotent, it's clearly the case He chooses to not see colors and chooses to not hear accents.

Yours in Christ,

-JMG

* The Lord grants me many insights, but He doesn't seem to consider it important that I determine where magnetic north is without the aid of complex navigational gear and a wife who points and says, exasperatedly "Left is THAT way."

** It was about 1.5 miles away, or three exits off I-5. "The 5" as natives so quaintly call it.

*** San Juan Capistrano is my favorite of these. And I am still 0-for-0 on Basilicas.