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