Wednesday, August 10, 2005

No Ordinary Sunday

Adventures called me out of the cafeteria for a bit. It’s nice to be back.

Through the twists and turns of my most recent adventures, I found myself in the City of San Francisco on Sunday. So, I checked out the Mass Times site to see where and when I could attend Mass in the city by the bay. San Francisco’s stunning cathedral, Saint Mary of the Assumption, was nearby, with an 11:00 a.m. mass. Perfect, I thought. I would combine my weekly obligation with a bit of sightseeing!

I made my way to the cathedral only to find a group of protesters at the curb. I had seen headlines in the local paper of another Bay Area diocese’s settlement in a sex abuse case, so I suspected the protest might be related. And, it was. Here – in peaceful protest – were representatives from SNAP and Voice of the Faithful – wearing t-shirts with messages like “No More Silent Catholics.” My heart went out to these victims. They simply want to be heard. Filled with empathy and determined to help spread their word in my own little way, I snapped a photo for the blog, and proceeded toward the church.

It was 30 minutes or so before mass was scheduled to begin, and people were already streaming into the church. Back home, most of my fellow parishioners arrive within a minute or two of the start time. This was impressive! As I stepped inside, a red-coated greeter gave me a smile and a beautiful embossed program – much more impressive than the goldenrod photocopied song sheet we pass out at home.

The tourist in me immediately took in the amazing architecture of the place. It is beautiful! As I wandered toward a pew, I realized how many of the 3,000 or so seats were already filled. Several pews were reserved for deacons and concelebrating priests.

Concelebrating priests?

I knew then this was no ordinary Sunday mass. I opened my program. There, in beautiful script, were these words:
Mass of Thanksgiving
The Pastoral Ministry
Most Reverend William J. Levada
Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith
Archbishop Emeritus of San Francisco
I had quite accidentally wandered into the farewell mass of the man who was taking our new Pope’s old job. I hadn’t given it much thought since the "lucky day" I heard the news of his appointment on the radio. Suddenly, I was one of 3,000 or so faithful who were sending him off to the Vatican.

It was one of the most memorable masses I have ever attended.The pageantry was spectacular. I felt like I was participating in something very significant. Sitting in this magnificent building in this beautiful city, listening to the highest ranking American at the Vatican, I was so proud to be a Catholic. And, in the next breath, I thought of the victims standing outside who had suffered at the hands of priests, and I felt betrayed by my church. Scanning the crowd of 30 or so celebrants and servers at the altar and finding only two women made me feel like I didn’t belong. There, in that beautiful 90-minute ceremony, I experienced the range of joy and conflict I know as a Cafeteria Catholic.

Archbishop Levada asked for our prayers. He can count on mine. He has an important job ahead of him. It was an honor to be a part of his sendoff.


At 4:40 AM, August 11, 2005, Blogger Steve Bogner said...

Wow, sounds like a memorable experience. Good timing!

Hopefully some day there will be just as many women as men up there at the altar. I certainly hope so.

At 1:12 PM, August 11, 2005, Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Wow. A historical moment. Don't you love stumbling upon those?

He was also served with papers for a subpeona for the child abuse cases up in my archdiocese (Portland) where he used to be Archbishop right before that mass.

I just had a bishop sighting myself ... saw mine waiting on line at my local deli. A good reminder that they are, in fact, people.

At 6:39 PM, August 11, 2005, Blogger CafeCath said...

Yes, I heard he was served right before the mass. Timing is, indeed, everything.

At 8:49 AM, August 14, 2005, Blogger ukok said...

I would have loved to have been there, it must have been a beautiful Mass indeed.

God Bless.


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