The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

yesterday i trekked to a villagette named arroyo grande to celebrate a memorial Mass for a 34 year old man who had died. the dominicans hold to the tradition of celebrating a funeral Mass, a memorial Mass on the 9th day after, the 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year anniversaries. i arrive to find 100 people crowded around the small compound, some playing cards, others talking, others wailing. i entered the chapel and saw nothing but a dirt floor and 3 motorcycles: no chairs, no altar. i quickly found a table, told someone to get rid of the motos. after about 5 minutes someone came in and said, "we need to celebrate the Mass in the house." since the house was right next door to the chapel, and just as large, i agreed and we went next door. upon entering the house, i found about 30 people all dressed in white shirts and black pants. the altar was there - loaded with candles and an odd pillow with a small doll which was white with black wristbands, ankle bands, and a black scarf around the neck (picture here). the small room was packed and hot. three people indicated that they could receive Communion. i was jammed into a small corner of the room. we began Mass and i have to say, except for the buzz from the outsiders, the Mass was relatively quiet and subdued.

after Mass i spoke with the young widow (woman in picture) and her family and left. everything outside was the same, people still laughing, crying, playing cards. at least the motorcycles had been moved out of the chapel...


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