Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In the Cemetery

For  the last four years or so, Emma and I have gone to pray the rosary in the small Catholic cemetery nearest our house every day during November.  It belongs to a rural parish that was established early in the 20th century by people of Czech descent.  We can see the tiny brick church across the hay fields to the west of us as we walk and pray.

We have grown to cherish our time in the cemetery each year.  It is so peaceful there, and often a refreshing breeze washes over us as the setting sun glints golden on the surrounding fields.  Here we have the comfort of the community of the dead, many of whom died before Vatican II and so professed the same Faith as we do.  We love reading the Old Country names.  I am particularly fond of "Frantiska" and "Zofie".  

Along with the joy we experience in the cemetery, we feel keenly the sharp stab of exile.  We gaze with longing at the little church and wish that we could go to mass so close to our house.  To be able to go to daily mass and rosary--what bliss!  We have driven 2 hours roundtrip on Sundays for the last 12 years to be able to assist at the traditional mass.   In desperation several years ago we tried going to mass at the little brick church.  We hungered for Catholic community--to live our faith daily among those who shared it.  The experience was so shocking that we never returned.  That novus ordo mass sharply illuminated for me how formative the traditional mass is.  Ever since, whenever I remember our experience, the word "hootenanny" pops into my mind.  It's far more accurate than "lack of reverence."

I firmly believe the old dead at the cemetery would feel the same way we did if they were allowed to return to their little brick church.

Happily, on All Souls Day, we met an older couple at the cemetery who belong to the parish.  Emma asked them if they would like to join us in praying the rosary, and they agreed.  So most days this month they have met us there, and we have walked and prayed through the cemetery together.  It has been truly lovely to have their company.

From them we learned that there is a new Polish pastor and that he asked the parishioners if the old altar and altar rails were stored somewhere--a hopeful sign.  Sadly, these fixtures, along with many beloved statues, were shipped off to Mexico after the new mass was introduced in 1969.

Our rosary companions told us that one parishioner managed to save the large Sacred Heart of Jesus statue that used to stand at the front of the church on the epistle side.  He carried it home and has kept it ever since.  Now he is quite elderly, and rumor has it that he is wondering if it is safe to bring it back. But the "praise band" now occupies the spot where the Sacred Heart used to stand.  I thought about how that displacement was true on so many levels in the novus ordo.  The day we learned this story, we added to our rosary the intention that the Sacred Heart statue be returned to its rightful place and that the "choir" would return to the long-vacant choir loft.

Let us pray hard for the restoration of the Church.


Emily said...

We have many cemeteries that are closer than the nearest Catholic one, so we usually end up praying at them. Sadly, I've only got us all there once this year! I guess we still have some more time. We'll have to go again.

Wendy Haught said...

Ha! I'm sure if I had a bunch of little children, I would have a much more difficult time making it to the cemetery.