Thursday, August 30, 2007

St. Bonaventure

Field Trip #12 - The Double Header

While driving to Sawgrass Community Church, we passed St. Bonaventure, which was running a packed house according to the property that was covered and crawling with vehicles. Upon return from SCC, we again saw the massive crowds at the catholic church and also noticed that there was a noon mass. Why not hit two churches in one morning? I've only been to a catholic church twice before - once for Christmas midnight mass a couple years ago, and once during high school. I am well-read on Catholic Theology (I don't mean Jack Chick Conspiracy Tracts, but the actual Catechism itself) and I disagree with much of it. But for the purposes of this post, I will leave those theological beliefs aside and focus on the experience itself.

The church was beautiful and the service was serene. The priest, Ed Prendergast had a calm, peaceful drone reminiscent of Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs . The church, which had to seat at least 800, was packed, with many people standing in the back. I realize that a catholic mass is very ritualized, memorized, and habitual, but I do think that there are some advantages to this form of worship if one engages in them sincerely with a heart for God.

We sang "Holy, Holy, Holy", read from Isaiah 66:18-21, Psalm 117:1-2, Hebrews 12:5-13, John 14:6, and Luke 13:22-30. We also recited the Nicene Creed. I'd say we spent about 15 minutes with the opening aspects of the service, another 15 on the sermon, and another 15 on giving communion to almost 1000 people. The sermon was o.k. despite the monotone nature of its delivery. He told us that "the very fact that we are Catholic or baptized doesn't guarantee that we are saved. We must be born again with a personal relationship with Jesus. We must allow Jesus to transform and change us daily." I must say that, setting aside my personal knowledge of Catholic Theology, this priest did a better job of delivering the Gospel than half of the Protestant churches that I've been to in recent months. I find it intriguing that so much of the congregation has the basics of theology literally memorized, and the only question remaining is whether it is put into use throughout the week.

Once a month they have the couples who are celebrating an anniversary that month stand and renew their marital vows before the entire congregation. I thought that was very cool, and romantic even. They also had a $4 Pancake & Eggs breakfast on site that included a pastry bar and Champagne Mimosas. One other thing, there was a noticeable presence of children during the mass. I'm not inclined to offer an opinion on this, I just thought I would mention it.
If last week's experience at Church by the Glades could be described as fun, then this experience at St. Bonaventure could be described as mind-numbingly boring. Peaceful, beautiful, and serene - yes. But boring too.


revolutionareze said...

Coming from a lutheran background I can say that I feel you on the whole boring aspect of a service. I can relate to mundane way that the services are constructed. If they both could just get a bit more excited about the whole church idea then I think they would have something good going.

For right now I will stick to the more rockin side of the Jesus thing.

Revolutionite said...

:) Me too! I'm liking the "rockin' side of Jesus!"

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