I went to Mass

I went to Mass last week. Well, most of a Mass.

I was on my way to the Quaker vigil for peace and justice at noon on Thursday. I had to stop at the bank first. While I was there, I realized that I would have time to go by St. Boniface Church and the DeMarillac Academy before the vigil.

I used to work for St. Boniface, a Roman Catholic church and Franciscan Friary. I ran their capital campaign for a couple of years. During my time there, the De Marillac Academy was founded. DeMarillac is a tuition-free Lasallian and Vincentian school for low-income children in 4th-8th grades, mostly from the surrounding Tenderloin neighborhood.

The last time I was at DeMarillac, I used up all the quarters they keep at the front desk for parking meters. For almost two years, I’ve been meaning to go back and make a donation of a roll of quarters. Yesterday, I finally did. The woman who works at the front desk now had no idea who I was, and probably thinks I’m just a little crazy. Maybe I am. But I don’t feel guilty anymore, so that’s good enough.

Afterwards, I made it to the front desk of St. Boniface before they closed for lunch and spoke to the receptionist there. She still remembers me, and my family. It was good to catch up for a moment.

After that, I couldn’t help going in to the sanctuary just to look around for a moment. St. Boniface Church is so beautiful. Beautiful murals and stenciling on all the walls, amazing stained glass. It is also functions as an intentional daytime shelter for people who don’t have a safe place to sleep at night. It smells like a place where homeless people spend a lot of time. It is filled with the sounds of snoring, and muttering. Some of the people are there praying, and some are just sleeping.

I tell people that St. Boniface is one of the “thin places,” a place where you can feel God’s presence just by walking in. It touches me every time.

I was working at St. Boniface on September 11, 2001. That Friday, the national day of prayer, I went to the noon time mass. Fr. Louie Vitale, one of the great peace and justice activists of our times and pastor of St. Boniface back then, said the mass. His homily was all about how Jesus calls us to be people of love and peace and forgiveness. It was a powerful reminder, in the midst of all the fear and hatemongering around us.

This time, the homily by Fr. Jorge, the new pastor, was about the second day of Lent. It was fine, but not hugely moving. When it came time for the Eucharist, which just reminded me that this is not my church, I left.

I went on to the vigil, about three blocks away. I helped my Friend Stephen hold the big banner that says “Quakers Are Still For Peace.” I prayed silently for all the people suffering in the world, especially those who have been harmed by the U.S. military. After the vigil, I shared a meal with eight other vigilers – a true breaking of bread (or rather vietnamese noodles) with my brothers and sisters.

Multiple forms of communion, all in one day.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post, Robin, and I love that you repaid those quarters. I used to volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul Scoiety in an inner city neighborhood. I consider the SVDP a special ministry of the RC Church, and I know that they have done a lot of good in our city.

In fact, the parish group I worked with went above and beyond so many times that I often thought they could be an organization on their own. They were extremely giving of time, talent, and treasure (the three T's are the words they use, and I like them).

I'm also in awe of the Spirit. How often to we hear people say: I was on my way to somewhere else when I saw or passed by [fill in the blank with something really profound].

Every day is an opportunity to encounter a way to be salt and light.


2/15/2008 3:37 PM  
Blogger cubbie said...

AND COFFEE!!! don't forget the coffee!!!! ;-)

2/15/2008 9:26 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

I love this post. There is something about people rubbing elbows across denominational lines that makes me happy. We don't lose anything by doing it and, in many, many cases, we gain so much!

2/17/2008 8:27 PM  

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