Two More Churches

Spent Monday and part of Tuesday in Austin, TX. home of the lovely if curious St. Mary’s Cathedral:

St. Mary's Austin int 2
Stained Glass behind high altar at sunrise.

Mass was at 6:30 a.m., when it was still dark outside. All the windows were black. As the sun rose, they slowly came to life.

Not an unlovely church, but I was not surprised when I read that it was the first church designed by Nicholas J. Clayton, who went on to be a famous Victorian architect in Galveston. I hesitate to call it clumsiness, but the blend of Gothic and other elements is a bit infelicitous:

St. Mary's Austin int
Not unlovely, but note the curious blend of pointed and round arches.

Not that I’m complaining – I’d take it over any church in our area in a heartbeat.

The Mass itself was lovely and efficacious.

Next, on Wednesday when I got back to California, was stuck in the South Bay needing to get to the Easy Bay at 5:00. for those not familiar with the Bay Area, that’s not a pretty picture – it has taken me over 2 hours to cover that 50 miles that time of day.  Technology to the rescue! Turns out Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara was minutes away, and has a 5:15 Mass I could catch.

This may be the most beautiful ugly church I’ve ever seen:

OLOP ext
Considering that it dates from the 1960s, not bad. Well, not *too* bad. OK, it’s a freakin’ barn, but the people easily triumph over this handicap.

I’d been to this church maybe 25 years ago, when I sang with the St. Ann Choir out of Stanford, but had few detailed memories. Turns out that this parish is a little famous, as the fathers from the IVE took over around 1990, and immediately began to celebrate very reverent and politically incorrect Masses (alter boys only, no EMHCs, communion rails), plus hearing confessions often, fostering Marian devotions and other practices destined to annoy certain people. So, of course, Masses are packed, there’s lay lead Rosaries and Chaplets on the hour, and a general aura of holiness pervades the place.

So, Tried to make 5:15 Mass, but the 10 minute trip took more like 20, and I got there just after the Consecration. So, I got in line for Confession. There were at least 200 people there – for a 5:15 Wednesday evening non-feast day Mass. It was better attended than many Sunday Masses at our local parishes.

Confessions took long, so Mass ended before my turn. The congregation launches into the Angelis, followed by the Rosary – all of it, plus occasional hymn verses and scriptural snippets.  Al least 100 people stayed for it.

OLOP int
Poor picture, but you can see some people inside – half an hour after Mass ended.

Now, I understand that even the smallest of my sins call for a Savior and a Sacrifice, so any penance I get for confession is just a token, but – whoa! I’ve been confessing, like most of us old guys, mostly the same old sins year after year – not that I want any new sins or anything. And I’ve gotten used to the usual couple Our Fathers, couple Hail Marys type penances. Yesterday?  A Rosary AND the Stations!  Maybe all those people in church were just trying to get their penances done?

All levity aside, it made me remember how serious my sins really are, how they can and are killing me, and that spending 20 minutes on my knees is STILL just a token of repentance. Maybe I’ll do that again.

If I ever come into millions of extra dollars, I’m going to offer to build these folks a nice neo-Gothic church. It’s the least I could do.

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

3 thoughts on “Two More Churches”

  1. “There were at least 200 people there – for a 5:15 Wednesday evening non-feast day Mass.”

    I wish you could have seen my jaw drop and hit the keyboard when I read that….

    1. And that’s an ‘at least’. I have a bad habit of counting people at church, and I can say with confidence that over 100 were there for the Rosary. But I didn’t count before. There might have been 300 – 400 for Mass, but at least 200.

      The mix is also interesting. California has a significant Catholic Vietnamese population, as it was the first place many of the boat people ended up, and Catholics were the kind of people facing death under the communists, so they were likely to flee, Maybe 25% or more of the congregation looked like it could be Vietnamese. The biggest group looked Latin American, and the rest were motley Euro-Americans. Not an unusual mix in California, where we put the small ‘c’ in Catholic.

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