Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/4/2014 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Baltimore bloodshed continues with unbelievable violence over the holiday weekend Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

May has proved to be the most dangerous and deadliest month Baltimore has witnessed in more than 50 years. There were more than two dozen shootings over the Memorial Day weekend alone; city police have never been busier. Community leaders hope the members will come ... continue reading


BACKWASH: California water officials consider repurposing sewage into drinking water Watch

Image of Unlike non-potable reuse, where treated sewage is used to irrigate crops, parks or golf courses - direct potable reuse takes treated sewage effluent and purifies it so it can be used as drinking water.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While it's "doable," few people in California are actually voicing any enthusiasm. Stricken by a crippling drought, water officials are going through some highly popular alternatives - and repurposing sewage water into drinking water is one of them. LOS ... continue reading


Gallup poll shows that one in four Americans not gay Watch

Image of Only 3.8 percent of Americans self-identify as gay, lesbian or transsexual.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Gay rights movements continue to disrupt society and political life, poll reveals that gay and lesbians are not as common in the United States as previously perceived. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new Gallup poll conducted in early May has revealed that ... continue reading


World's oldest woman reaches 116-years-old! Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

World's oldest woman, Jeralean Talley has added another year to her life - the world declared she turned 116 last weekend. Talley and her family, friends, the Inkster mayor and Congressman Conyers, delivered a message from President Barack Obama, celebrating her ... continue reading


The mystery behind brains discovered in the streets of St. Lawrence County Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How would you react if you unexpectedly and inexplicably found nine brains on the side of the road while on your early morning run? Like most people, you may find yourself shocked and completely clueless on the origins of the brains. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Died in Service. Thank Those who Serve. Pray For the Nation Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I am always drawn to these words of Jesus on Memorial Day weekend, - No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13) Military service which leads to laying one's life down is certainly an expression of this kind of heroic ... continue reading


Memorial Day: Chaplains - A Reminder that We Are One Nation Under God Watch

Image of

By Fr. Randy Sly

The work of our chaplains extends much farther than the post chapel. They labor on land, at sea and in the air. There are 1.4 million Catholics in the military; wherever they are stationed, the chaplain is there. These chaplains can be found bringing Jesus Christ to ... continue reading


Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Honor Our Nation with Heroic Sacrifice Watch

Image of Thank you, to every man and woman who has fought and is currently fighting for our homeland.  Thank you for doing everything within your power to make sure I and my children can sleep safely tonight.  I love and appreciate you and I pray God's blessing on you and your families.  Godspeed, and come home soon.

By Jennifer Hartline

Thank you, to every man and woman who has fought and is currently fighting for our homeland.  Thank you for doing everything within your power to make sure I and my children can sleep safely tonight.  I love and appreciate you and I pray God's blessing on you ... continue reading


MASSIVE OIL SPILL: Santa Barbara declares state of emergency over massive oil spill in Pacific Ocean Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

About 9 miles of the Pacific ocean, across a popular spot on the California coast, was damaged after a pipeline leaked massive amounts of oil in the water earlier this week.     MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - According to officials, up to ... continue reading


UC Santa Barbara massacre survivor speaks on the day's events and his journey to recovery Watch

Image of www.thisischriswhite.com

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The fateful night of May 23, 2014, Antoine Cherchian managed to survive being shot by the virgin killer, Elliot Rodger, during his killing spree at UC Santa Barbara. While Cherchian sustained fatal injuries, along with six other students murdered, he is thankful for ... 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, Sirach 36:5-6, 10-17
5 Send new portents, do fresh wonders, win glory for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 79:8, 9, 11, 13
8 Do not count against us the guilt of former ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 10:32-45
32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 27th, 2015 Image

St. Augustine of Canterbury
May 27: At the end of the sixth century anyone would have said that ... 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