Now that's how a church service ought to be done. Shuffle the people in, grace 'em over with some rote righteousness, and shuffle 'em out.
According to church lore (Gustavo
can fact-check the history, the bumpkinly OCeeker just trusts whatever the Catholic Church
says), on July 28, 1769, a Spanish
expeditionary force, under the leadership of Don Gaspar Portola
, cut diagonally across our fair county, likely crossing the Santa AnaRiver
north of what is now ChapmanAvenue
. They believe a Mass
took place before the march resumed, and that it was first Mass for what is now Holy Family Cathedral
Father Francis Burelback was appointed the first pastor in October 1921, and a property at the corner of East Chapman Avenue and Shaffer Street became the site of the first Holy Family Church, with the first Mass held in 1922 on Palm Sunday. Its present building at La Veta Avenue and South Glassell Street was completed in April 1958.
A religious quickie
But whatever. Let us, ye heathen, get down to what was the equivalent of a religious quickie at Holy Family Cathedral. They have banners that read "proud to be Catholic in Orange County," and a fine sanctuary with an A-frame, wooden ceiling and stained glass throughout. About 100 believers peppered the wooden pews in the long and spacious hall.
Reverend Timothy Nguyen, sporting a vicar-esque white robe, was in mid-Mass form as the OCeeker arrived, vainly scanning the pew for babes, and took his seat near the front-left of the sanctuary, looking up at Jesus, who hung on a cross stuck to a wall of red bricks.
"Many times in life we think that we may find joy in something else," Nguyen said. "But things will get outdated. Things will get old. People will get old and our tastes will be changed. And it's very important for us to be able to seek fullness of joy in the presence of God."
After wrapping up his homily, Nguyen quickly moved to an altar at the middle of the stage, where he prepared the Eucharist and read Scripture that told of the Last Supper. The congregation of whites, Mexis and Asians--mostly middle-aged and up--dutifully listened, readying themselves for the little pious exercises that mark a Mass.
We stood to our feet (a wheelchair-bound man stood in his heart) as a white man read prayers for pregnant women and new mothers, the sick, and that Notre Dame would soon again be able to recruit inner-city football players. Kidding. One of the neat things about Mass, besides not needing a Bible, is that the professional Christians up front do all the work for you. We sin. They pray. Amen. All we had to do was utter "Lord, hear our prayer," and e'erthing was okey dokey.
It all gets a little blurry, but the OCeeker recalls taking a knee a la Joe Montana in the huddle, as Nguyen continued fixing holy things up front, and we prayed that our sacrifice would be acceptable to God. We stood. We knelt. We prayed. Nguyen presented us with the consecrated elements, and declared "the mystery of faith." After more blessings and prayers, Nguyen lifted up the paten--a plate used to hold the Eucharist bread--and the OCeeker joined the saints for the Lord's Prayer, leaving out the part about not getting led into temptation.
Before we hit the altar for our sanctified snack, we greeted one another with the sign of peace, more less a "howdy, neighbor" that is kinda important, as Jesus told his disciples that before they present their gifts at the altar, they should first reconcile with their brethren. All the OCeeker got was one old lady who mumbled a rather limp "peace" at him; he threw an F-Troop gang sign her way.
After some assistants up front got their communion on, the pews proceeded to empty toward the altar.
Now, when it comes to lady parts and whatnot, the OCeeker is a foot man. Nothing like the taste of toe to spice up sexytime. But ye know something heathen? A lady digit is just as delicious. So when the OCeeker had the opportunity to take his wafer from ol' Nguyen, he made a quick left and headed for the older gal awaiting to deliver.
"This is the body of Christ," she said.
The OCeeker opened wide, and she placed that puppy right smack on his candy tongue, as he curled his bottom (and full, thank you) lip and sucked some sweat off her fine little finger. Yums.
Over to the blood the OCeeker went. Another gal held the cup, which was low on the liquid gold, and the OCeeker was faced with a dilemma: take a l'il sip and leave the rest for the remaining saints behind him, or make merry and down that bad body just to see what they all would do with an empty cup. Guess what ol' cowboy did? Let's just say that cup didn't runneth over. That's what happens when you make a man sip from the same cup as a hundred other believers.
With bellies full o'Jesus, we hit hit the pews again. Nguyen prayed, and a big group of us headed for the parking lot.
The OCeeker gave the Mass three out of five crucifixes. Fast-tracked forgiveness is fine and all, but dang it if it didn't feel more dutiful than devotional.
The OCeeker fired up his car, and some Hayes Carll
: "she left me for Jesus and that just ain't fair/she says that he's perfect, how could I compare?/she says I should find him and I'll know peace at last/if I ever find Jesus, I'm kickin' his ass."
Holy Family Cathedral meets about 3,000 times a week at 566 S. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 639-2900; www.hfcathedral.org
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