Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Universal Mark

Mass began with an invitation to pray and say what I say, as Catholics are getting used to the New Roman Missal, the guide for Sunday worship.

"And also with me," the presider in Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, quickly added.

Unity. Union. Oneness, I thought.

Across the country, let alone encircling the globe, one, holy Catholic and apostolic, are marks of the Church.

The union and communion with the community of worshippers in this church was obvious to me.

One we were together at this 10 am praise time this bright and beautiful day when over 900 people filled the pews as the choir chimed out from on high in the back pews and lifted-loft-like
perch from where the hymns and melodies ministered as music should - to one's soul.

Smiles abounded as churchgoers shared the sign of peace before they each processed forth to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

Before this profound moment in the Catholic Mass, the rich and abundant fare of the Word of God from the Sacred Scriptures, filled the sound system and ears of participants.

"Full, active and conscious participation," the clarion call of Vatican II for liturgy, resounded as people seemed engaged throughout the hour service.

The Gospel "good news" according to St. Mark in the Christian Scriptures, told of the healing of Simon Peter's mother-in-law, who waited on all in the house after Jesus' healing touch of her fever.

Prayer and fasting were emphasized by the preacher.

As Jesus did often before significant and defining moments and miracles overcoming evil or the devil, people were asked to give up a beer on Superbowl Sunday.

"Wait for the next commercial," the Monsignor suggested, "before another one."

Religious freedom was the theme of a letter of Thomas Wenski, the Archbishop of Miami, Florida. Quiet filled the spaces between words pressing from the page-long pastoral letter.

The letter complained of "an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States direcrectly, and, that strikes at the funamdental right to religous liberty for all citizens of any faith."

"The federal government, which claims to be "of, by, and for the people," has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people - the Catholic population - and to millionsmore who are served by the Catholic faithful."

Most employers "will be forced to offer their employees' health coverage that includes sterlilizaton, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception," the preacher continued, reading the hierarch's admonition.

This is an attack that tramples religious freedom. It is about more than contraceptives as some may conclude.

For more on this assault, visit

In the vestibule, after Mass, I greeted others. One gentleman asked me about where he could locate the letter that was read during the homily.

The red-colored, printed coat of arms and letters of the bishop, was inserted into the weekly bulletin publication Catholics get after Mass on Sundays.

As we chatted, the same parishioner wanted me to have a booklet, entitled, "Obama and Islam."

Graciously, I accepted it as he welcomed me to his business place to secure it.

A universal mark of oneness, I thought. We were one with each other as Catholics thorughout the world are united.

We shared stories, imagination, his childhood remembrances of insence while serving as an alter boy decades ago, and more.

We are one, I thought.

Catholic blood flows in solidarity and union, I recalled, and told him so.

The vibrant, well-read 73-year-old, widely smiled like those who did earlier at the sign of peace greeting given to each other before receiving Holy Communion at Mass.

A universal mark.

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