Gaylon and I had the honor of hosting a young seminarian named Zach Webb in our home back in January for one night before the Texas Rally for Life at the Capital. Our whole family just fell in love with him, and apparently he liked us, too, at least a little bit, because he sent us an invitation to is Diaconate Ordination Mass at the Cathedral. After some debate, we decided that Gaylon and I would attend alone, without the kids or Mom, and make a weekend of it.
So, yesterday, we left Austin and headed to Dallas! We didn’t really bother to contact anyone, even though we have many wonderful friends and family in the DFW area, because we just wanted it to be us this weekend. We do hope they will understand, and we are definitely planning on coming back soon. (I’ve got a brand new cousin to meet!!)
Last night we ate at the hotel and just chilled. This morning we had to be up early to get to the Cathedral for the Mass. I had strategically selected our hotel to be just a couple of blocks away from the Cathedral, so we actually walked to it! It was a glorious morning, and a very short two-block walk. The Mass was packed, and the service was beautiful. The Cathedral is really beautiful, too. We were honored to be there, and to witness six men as they were ordained to the Diaconate. ‘Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise’, they will all be ordained priests next year!
It is exciting to me that there seems to be a resurgence of vocations to the priesthood. I have only recently started serving on the Vocations Committee at our parish, and one of the ladies on the committee has a signature line on her email that really hit me: “Pray for vocations. Without priests, there is no Eucharist.” I really had to let that one sink in on me a bit. Wow.
Anyway, we decided to go to Mass again this evening, so we could sleep in a bit tomorrow morning. I was thrilled to discover on Masstimes.org that there is a Polish Parish, St. Peter the Apostle, just five minutes from our hotel, and their Saturday 6:00 p.m. Vigil Mass is Polish! Gaylon is such a good sport, and agreed that it would be a neat experience, so we went.
The church was modest, but very warm and friendly. The priest spotted us right away, and came over to greet us and make sure we knew the Mass would be in Polish. He said “Please be patient with us, we are speaking Polish.” I told him I knew, and that although I cannot speak Polish, I am Polish! He lit up, and was very happy to hear that. He went on about his pre-Mass business, and next thing we knew, he was coming back with a Polish-English Missalette, that he said I could have. 🙂
It was absolutely wonderful to try to follow along with the strange-looking Polish words. And here is one of my absolute favorite things about being Catholic: even though we didn’t understand a word they were saying, we knew exactly what they were saying! The Catholic Mass is the same the world over, and the readings on any given day are the same in every Mass all over the world. So no matter where you are, you can go to Mass, and still understand what is happening.
I kept thinking that this was the way my great-grandmother (and probably my grandmother, too, when she was a child) used to hear Mass. My great-grandmother was a very devout Polish-Catholic woman, who went to Mass almost every day of her life. She was always paying to have our names added to prayer lists all over the world, so I know that even now, decades later, the nuns of the Holy or Perpetual Something-or-Other are still praying for me. And boy, am I glad!
I am very proud to be of Polish descent. Poland is one of the most Christian countries in the world, and they are almost all Catholic. I remember, years ago, I met a woman (who is now one of my dear friends) who was Polish. I asked her if she was Catholic and her response was “I’m Polish. Of course I’m Catholic!” Anyway, a whopping 90% of Poles are Catholic, and 80% of them go to confession at least once a year, with 60% of them going more frequently. Compare that to our own country, where only a pathetic 14% of Catholics go to Confession once a year, and 2% go more often. (While Catholicism is still the largest denomination in the United States, only 22% of our population is Catholic).
I love that I have that sort of religious heritage, and so that is why it was such a treat for me tonight to get to go to a Polish Mass. I have heard a rumor that a Polish Mass is offered twice a month in Austin, so I think I will see if Alex or Abby or Mom would like to go and check it out. I do think, however, it would be a good idea to learn some Polish, first!
Tomorrow we head back to Austin, and I am glad. It’s been wonderful to get away for a couple of days, but Dallas just doesn’t have the funky-cool vibe that Austin has.