24 April 2011

St. Augustine Church- Easter Mass

For Easter this year, I decided to go one of my favorite churches in Washington, St. Augustine Church on U St. (Click here to see my original post on St. Augustine from December 2009).They're famous for their fantastic gospel choir and energetic pastor, Father Pat. I invited my friend Mike from work to come with me, he's a student from Ohio spending the semester interning in Washington, D.C. We thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular music and the wonderful atmosphere. Happy Easter everyone!

Assumption Catholic Church

On April 3, my good friend Dan and I visited Assumption Catholic Church, in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast Washington. It’s been a few weeks since that visit, so I’m having a hard time remembering the finer points of the Mass, but I can affirmatively say that Dan and I absolutely loved this church. According to a parish history given to me after Mass, the parish was formed in 1916, and their current church building was finished in 1933. The church building reminded me a lot of the chapel at St. Anselm’s Abbey because of its pentagonal face, brick walls, and slanted wooden roof.

There was a small choir providing the music, made up of six or seven ladies and a man accompanying them on the piano. They seemed to incorporate a gospel style of music, but their hymns were less fiery and energetic than those of, for example, St. Teresa of Avila parish or St. Augustine parish. I enjoyed this calmer form of worship, which seemed appropriate for this small, intimate church.

Undoubtedly, my favorite part of the service was Father Montgomery’s homily. He was incredibly entertaining, charismatic, and delivered some clear, important messages from the day’s Gospel readings. He started off by questioning the validity of televangelists like Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn. If these people really have such a great connection with God, he asked, why do they continually face health and marital problems? He then jokingly suggested that he could bring in as many donations as these televangelists by holding a “healing,” where he would slap his parishioners around and then send them running into the street yelling, “I’m healed!!” He then discussed the day’s Gospel, in which Jesus healed a blind man. In Jesus’ time, many saw blindness as a punishment from God for sinning, but Jesus refused to speculate on the man’s past and relieved him of his blindness anyway. This was evidence, said Father Montgomery, that our God is not a vengeful God, but a God of “compassion and mercy.”



Churches I've Been To So Far (29!)

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05 April 2011

St. Anthony of Padua Church

Last week, I went to visit St. Anthony of Padua Church, a small parish located near the Catholic University of America. I always wondered whether this parish struggled to draw people in for Mass, since I imagine many people close by would go to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception nearby. This church, however, seemed to be quite lively and functioning. My good friend Dan once again decided to accompany me. 

The front of the church was orange-brownish and had a pentagonal shape. Inside the church, a series of large, blue-tipped arches covered the worship area. The walls were mostly white, with carved wood panels surrounding the church. The church had some beautiful stained glass panels along the side of the church. One side depicted the life of St. Anthony of Padua, the other the history of the Catholic Church in Maryland. 

Mass was fairly mellow, with a single cantor accompanied by piano taking the musical duties. In the homily, the priest discussed the dialogue Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well, comparing it to the scrutiny given to candidates for Baptism. He also asked us to take up a self-scrutiny, asking ourselves, “Who are we?” and “How did we get here?”