Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/4/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Before the celebrant entered, every seat was filled, and almost every face was smiling.

For me, there was water in the desert that night in more than one way: the rain would leave the parched ground green, but the Mass celebrated by Father Joe and the people of God in Paradise Valley would give me hope that other spiritual communities have discovered how to bring a human and humane warmth to the Roman Rite. 

The surprising welcome wasn't all that would surprise and delight me.  The church is part of the Franciscan Renewal Center which, as I had already heard from several local Catholics and non-Catholics, maintains a vibrant relationship to the community through its liturgies, retreats, classes, and programs of all kinds. I usually discount this kind of praise until I see it for myself - well, I did!

The surprising welcome wasn't all that would surprise and delight me. The church is part of the Franciscan Renewal Center which, as I had already heard from several local Catholics and non-Catholics, maintains a vibrant relationship to the community through its liturgies, retreats, classes, and programs of all kinds. I usually discount this kind of praise until I see it for myself - well, I did!

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/4/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Deal W. Hudson, welcoming parish, warmth, evangelical catholic, franciscan, renewal, Our Lady of the Angels, Franciscan Renewal Center, Pope Francis, Father Joe Schwab OFM


PARADISE VALLEY, AZ (Catholic Online) - I've written several times in the past about what I consider a lack of welcome and warmth in Catholic parishes, especially when a newcomer attends Mass. In my 30 years of being a Catholic, I had never been to a Mass where visitors were welcomed until this past weekend at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Paradise Valley, AZ.

But the surprising welcome wasn't all that would surprise and delight me.  The church is part of the Franciscan Renewal Center which, as I had already heard from several local Catholics and non-Catholics, maintains a vibrant relationship to the community through its liturgies, retreats, classes, and programs of all kinds. I usually discount this kind of praise until I see it for myself - well, I did!

The church itself was intimate, about 300 seats in theater style, tiered, and in a near semi-circle around the altar. The style of stonework, windows, and religious art was beautifully integrated, creating a spiritual space in a desert setting.  I was told by my hosts, Claudia and Paul Critchfield, that there are often as many as a thousand worshipers seated outside watching the liturgy on screens (yes, a new, larger church is being built).

Before the celebrant entered, every seat was filled, and almost every face was smiling.  There was little chit chat, the mood was reverent and expectant. The congregation's average age is over 50, this being a popular retirement location near Phoenix and Scottsdale. I'm used to being among older worshipers at Mass but not among so many cheerful ones. The mood was quiet, as I said, but joyful even before the Mass began. 

Father Joe Schwab OFM came out and stood just in front of the altar. His presence was priestly, pastoral, and cheerfully reverent. Father Joe said, "Hello," and asked for any visitors to raise their hands.  Mine shot up involuntarily, since I had been waiting thirty years for this simple act of courtesy before Mass. The four of us who were visitors said our names and where we  were from, per Father's request. He repeated each name, eliciting warm but restrained applause. Just right, in my opinion.  As I told him later, "Father, you have a gift for touching just the right chord in worship."

When the Mass began the cheerful mood was transposed into a darker key of joyful reverence. I've rarely witnessed such a genuine antiphonal celebration of the Mass. If there is such a thing as 100% participation, I was blessed to be part of it.  The music itself was not to my taste, admittedly, but the people of God sang it heartily, and several of the tunes were singable even to my ear.  Best of all, my favorite version of the Agnes Dei, one I have not heard for years, was sung whole-heartedly by the cantor and the congregation. 

It had to be providence that on the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the gospel text was one that has special meaning for me, Matthew 6.24-34: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin." Though I outwardly may show the face of a bon vivant, on the inside I carry around more "worry" than is necessary or, more importantly, faithful. 

Father Joe offered a notably textured homily on these verses, beginning with the distinction between worrying as fretting and worrying as a prudent concern of meeting responsibilities. The message was reasonable but graceful, a message that contained uplift but also good, practical advice for living.  As I told Claudia later, the homily was "magnificent."  That Father had brought one of the 300 copies of the famous St. John's Bible to lay open before the congregation only added to the impact of his homily.

A cynic reading this column might expect that after the final blessing this happy group would remain inside the church clustered - Protestant style - in animated conversation. Not so, everyone left in reverence shaking Father's hand and looking for shelter from the first rain in 70 days.

For me, there was water in the desert that night in more than one way: the rain would leave the parched ground green, but the Mass celebrated by Father Joe and the people of God in Paradise Valley would give me hope that other spiritual communities have discovered how to bring a human and humane warmth to the Roman Rite. 

Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More U.S.

A journey to the land of the free: Part One -- Beaten and scared young children flee violence and turn to the United States for hope Watch

Image of Many young immigrants have no more fight in them when they decide to cross the border, they're only trying to survive.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Blistered feet and filthy, blood-stained skin is the forlorn image of immigrants preparing to cross the border. With hopeful hearts and anxious minds, immigrants, of all ages, assemble to make the leap into their promise land. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most ... continue reading


OBAMACARE DOES NOT WORK! Vermont gives up free healthcare plan as too expensive Watch

Image of Vermont's governor announced that a planned universal healthcare program for the state has been cancelled because the massive tax hikes would devastate the state's economy.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, announced that he was canceling his longtime dream to create a single-payer health care system for his state. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The announcement came on December 17, citing problems with paying for the Green ... continue reading


The disgusting new fact of American life: More than 46 million Americans on food stamps for 37 straight month Watch

Image of Obama has been in office for about 70 months, and 37 of those months have seen the most amount of Americans on food stamps, ever!

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is self-evident that President Obama continues to undermine the abilities of the lower class, enforcing government-reliance on those who can least afford it. The number of Americans on food stamps under Obama has continued along its record breaking path, as, ... continue reading


Faith in the United States' race relations hits a strikingly low point after no indictment verdicts Watch

Image of 57 percent of American's say race relations in the United States are bad, according to the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Those are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, a man who fought long and hard for a better today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A land where discrimination no longer prevails is a reality that seems no ... continue reading


The Pope, the Pets, the Paparazzi and the Propaganda Media

Image of Pope Francis pets a dog

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The passing on of this complete fabrication, as well as the embellishment which accompanied it, were not simply a matter of the secular press failing to comprehend this Pope. In fact, religious news sources, both Catholic and Protestant, jumped in. This all ... continue reading


Why is he so upset? Because of the secret Republican time bomb in the government funding bill Watch

Image of The federal government has funding through the 2015 fiscal year, but Republicans will have many opportunities to fight the president's programs in that time.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Senate has approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed to fund nearly the whole of the federal government through the 2015 fiscal year, ending weeks of drama in Congress and relieving doubts that the government might be shut down again while Democrats and ... continue reading


You know about the 'Bishop of Bling' but do American clergy have the same problem too? Watch

Image of The Bishop of Bling was sacked after he spent $43 million renovating his home.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has called for "a Church which is poor and for the poor." However, not every member of the clergy may have read the memo. A number of high-ranking Church officials in the United States live in lavish homes, sometimes bordering on the scandalous. LOS ... continue reading


Water leak leads to discovery of 1795 time capsule - left by Paul Revere! Watch

Image of A worker holds the time capsule left by the revolutionaries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Paul Revere, the fearless revolutionary who mounted his horse to declare that "The British are coming! The British are coming!" has left an enduring national legacy - in both deed and actions. Excitement is mounting with the discovery of a time capsule left by Revere ... continue reading


The Gender Identity Executive Order of President Obama is a Trojan Horse

Image of Most of us are familiar with the story of the Trojan Horse used by Greek soldiers to take the City of Troy. After a multi-year, unsuccessful effort to take the City, the Greeks pretended to retreat. However, Greek soldiers had left behind a large wooden horse. The Trojans found what they thought were spoils of battle, a large wooden horse. They decided to pull it into the City as a trophy of their victory. Hidden inside were an elite group of soldiers. As soon as the crowds gathered to celebrate the victory, they came out of the horse and destroyed the City from the inside.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

To equate how one engages in sexual activities with a member of the same sex - or whether one has sexual attraction to a member of the same sex - with a properly protected status such as race, creed, gender or national origin, in the enforcement of federal ... continue reading


America's best hope for 2016 is an old face: Republican's need Romney to run Watch

Image of While Mitt Romney has not said he will run for president in 2016, those close to him suggest that he will, and he is confident that he can win.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Republican party is doing a great deal of soul searching ahead of the 2016 presidential election season. It's will be tough finding a candidate that appeals to the small but vocal Tea Party, the aging and reactionary ultraconservatives and the large and ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
2 There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:3-4, 5-6, 16-17
3 Be a sheltering rock for me, always accessible; you ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:5-25
5 In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 19th, 2014 Image

St. Nemesius
December 19: Martyr of Egypt. He was burned alive in Alexandria, Egypt, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter