Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 21 - Part 1: Mass for Immigrants

The first event of the day was a Mass for Immigrants celebrated by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and concelebrated by our very own Bishop Paul Loverde (Arlington, VA), Bishop Francisco González (Washington, DC), Bishop John Wester (Salt Lake City, UT), Fr. Allan Figueroa Deck, SJ (USCCB/Cultural Diversity in the Church) and a host of other priests...basically any priest who came with their delegation to the march and felt like vesting and concelebrating was invited to come forward.

The Mass was largely bilingual English/Spanish, including Cardinal Mahony's homily, the readings were proclaimed in Spanish (1st), French (2nd), and English (the Gospel), and the prayers were in all of those languages plus Tagalog, Igbo, Malayalam and Haitian Creole.

Two things stood out for me about this Mass:

1. Regardless of the number of concelebrants, the Mass was very much a love-fest between Cardinal Mahony and his national level immigrant flock. The cardinal was present and vested long before the service started and wandered around the sanctuary like a solicitous host, greeting his guests as they arrived and obligingly posing for photos when requested. He was totally at ease, completely "en su casa", and he made us feel like it was "nuestra casa" too.

2. Control of the liturgy pretty much escaped the program developed by the organizers. The music was supposed to be just a handful of the bilingual (or bilingualized) standards -- Pescador de Hombres, Pan de Vida, I am the Bread of Life, etc... led by a cantor. But then a music group from Texas got up in the balcony and spiced things up with some favorite charismatic alabanzas such as "Nuevo Amor" and "Sumergeme".

Things also departed from the script when the cardinal in his homily began a sentence: "As Cesar Chavez of the Farmworkers movement used to say..." The congregation immediately started to clap and chant "Si, se puede!" and the cardinal happily joined in the clapping and chanting for a few minutes until people quieted down again.

All in all, the multicultural crowd that packed St. Aloysius left spirit-filled and ready to stand up for immigrant rights. Amen, Amen, Amen.

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