Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/4/2014 (6 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 (6 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 September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

As death toll passes 2,600 U.S. lawmakers worry about spread of Ebola Watch

Image of Red Cross workers in Guinea in protective gear. Currently, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are the worst nations worst hit by the West African Ebola outbreak.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Legislators in Washington are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of Ebola and worry that it could become more contagious and potentially spread into the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - President Obama's new plan to put 3,000 U.S. ... continue reading


Obama gains support from House to further fight against ISIS Watch

Image of President Obama, with the support of the House of Representatives, may now start arming and training Syrian groups to fight the Islamic State, and will continue to strike targets in Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Barack Obama told Americans-in somewhat ambiguous terms-last week that he intended to destroy the Islamic State, as of September 17, he promised that the United States will not fight another ground war in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Values Voters: What We Can Learn from Ted Cruz Being Booed at the In Defense of Christians Conference Watch

Image of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a Gala Solidarity Dinner. Sadly, it certainly did not demonstrate solidarity between Christians. A small group in the assembly, rudely and loudly, reacted negatively to some of the words Senator Cruz spoke as he expressed his convictions concerning the persecution taking place in this land which is properly holy, precisely because of its role in God's loving plan of salvation for the whole human race.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The events of Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Inaugural In Defense of Christians Gala make abundantly clear that there is a serious and urgent need for values voters to meet and discuss the crisis in the Mideast and ways in which we can work together to ... continue reading


Our Age Need Rebels of Love: The Christian Church is the Real Counterculture Watch

Image of As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. As I studied the early Church fathers I came to understand that the true humanism is authentic Christianity, the kind professed, in word and deed, by the early Christians. As I read early Church history I was brought back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church. I came to believe that she offers the theological anthropology, ecclesiology and world view of the early fathers of the Church. I also came to believe that she was the real counterculture.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We can - we will - change the culture of the contemporary West, if we are willing to suffer, struggle and offer ourselves to the Lord for the task. His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, working through us, will accomplish what we can never accomplish on our ... continue reading


What is a Catholic Deacon? Bishop Kevin Rhoades Gives the Answer Watch

Image of The Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, presiding over the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate of six new Holy Cross Deacons

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

It is a privilege to ordain you permanent deacons.  No, I didn't make a mistake.  Don't worry: you are scheduled to be ordained priests next year by Bishop Jenky!  But what happens today in the sacrament of Orders is not something transitional; it ... continue reading


ISIS among us! New York man sought to kill Iraq war veterans Watch

Image of Mufid Elfgeeh, a 30-year-old, Yemeni born man who lived in New York, attempted to send three people to Iraq to fight for the Islamic State, and purchase firearms to kill veterans from the Iraq War.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni born food store owner in upstate New York sent funding to the Islamic State and attempted to sent three jihadists to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist cell while plotting to perpetrate attacks against American troops who had served in Iraq. LOS ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone: 16433 Children Buried in One Grave Watch

Image of Fr. Pavone prays at the graveside of the children

By Fr. Frank Pavone

For many years, this mass grave had no marker or headstone, just as the children have no names. But now there is a stone, and we are going to name the babies. Supporters of abortion do not want people to see mass graves in our midst. It's too disturbing a ... continue reading


Nice try! Democrats try to distance themselves from Obama for midterm, but it's too late! Watch

Image of Kentucky Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, seen here with a shotgun in an ad where she attempts to distance herself from the disastrous and unpopular policies of President Barack Obama.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Democratic Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, is trying her best to let Kentuckians know that she is certainly not an Obama Democrat, releasing a campaign ad where she wields a gun to prove it. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grimes' 30-second ad takes place in ... continue reading


Are terrorists invading the US through the open border with Mexico? Watch

Image of The Islamic State nay already have sympathizers and cells within the USA. The porous border does nothing to aid the situation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Americans are worried that the Islamic State will soon conduct terror attacks within the U.S., inserting agents via the porous border between the states and Mexico. At least one sheriff has told the media he received an official alert while the federal government is ... continue reading


'We'll send them to hell!' Texas sheriff declares war on Islamic State Watch

Image of Texas sheriff Gary Painter reveals that he believes the Islamic State has already infiltrated the U.S. through the porous southern border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Law enforcement agencies along the U.S.-Mexico border have received alerts to be on the lookout for terrorists from Islamic State attempting to cross into the United States, a sheriff from the region has said. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Midland County ... 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, First Corinthians 15:12-20
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 17:1, 6-7, 8, 15
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen, Yahweh, to an upright ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:1-3
1 Now it happened that after this he made his way ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 19th, 2014 Image

St. Januarius
September 19: St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento ... 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