Friday, November 9, 2007

The Sacraments

You've heard my trials about finding a church to attend here in Chennai. I have several prerequisites:

Not at the crack of dawn (seriously, several places have English Mass at 6 or 6:30 a.m.)
Driveable without a driver

I also searched high and low for a place that provided catechism for the kids. In English. At a reasonable time. There was a small church leftover from the Portugese era that had promise, but we checked it out a week after it had been demolished to allow a new church to rise in the coming year.
So, we stick with Santhome Basilica. We choose the noon Mass since the music is marginally better than the 9:30 a.m. especially on first Sundays when 9:30 hosts the St. Bede "boys choir." The Revival Singers can at least sing, even if their songs are evangelical hits or taken from the Beatles, Sinatra or the movie "Sister Act." Seriously, they did the funky "Hail Holy Queen" a few weeks back.
I wouldn't worry too much about all this except I have two kids getting ready for First Communion and having a steady and basic understanding of the Mass is extremely important for this Sacrament. The churches here don't hold normal Vatican II services. The readings are a little off so the kids can't follow in my Missal (which reminds me, Nicholas wants a Missal all his own, one with all the readings not a kid version), the homilies are typically way off (at least we no longer have the e-mail forward homilies anymore) and few of the congregation responses are what we're accustomed to and none of the sung responses are. Getting anything from the Mass is easier here than it was in Togo, but it's still not great. You know what I really miss? I miss the Tagalog Our Father sung in our church in Manila. By the end of the tour we could all sing it by heart because even though it wasn't our norm, it was beautiful and consistent.
Attending a Catechism class is really important for First Communion prep and I don't have all the materials to teach them myself, nor sadly all the knowledge. Santhome just announced a Catechism class for English speakers which seemed like an answer to prayers other than the 7:15 a.m. meeting time. They announced it at the noon Mass, I do wonder how many takers they'll get.
All this to say, I am absolutely thrilled with one of our new arrivals at post. Not only is she Catholic, she's a Catechism teacher primarily for First Communion. And here's the best part, she has a 2nd grader herself. She's offered to teach my kids too and we'll coordinate with the church about a First Communion Mass next summer when all the grandparents can come for the celebration. Doesn't this just seem like it was meant to be? I am very excited.

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