Universality of the Church
Easter Sunday in Dallas, Texas, I was reminded of this universality when we attended Saint Michael the Archangel Church with our Filipino friends. When we arrived at the church we noticed the pillars of the porte-cochere were wrapped in decoration that at first I thought were African. Then I decided they might be Native American. But when I saw some people wearing Ethnic costumes decorated with seashells, I thought maybe indigenous Hawaiian, or could they be Filipino? There are many Filipinos in the Dallas area.
The music began, unlike any I’ve ever heard. It was loud, resonating with an unusual beat which I decided must be African. A large acapella choir singing in this strange language and rhythm was an amazing sound. The Mass was completely familiar; it was, of course, the same order of the Mass. The priest, I believe, was from India. Our priest at home is also, and very difficult to understand. But the music…
After Mass I cornered an usher and asked him about the choir. Was this a visiting group on tour in the U. S.? Where are they from? He looked a bit confused by my question until he realized I was a visitor. The choir is their normal choir made up of parishioners who happen to be Samoan. The area of the city known as Ules, has a large population from Samoa. Ules also has a great football team, he told me, as the Samoans are large strong people.
This is a huge church by any standard, but since my own home parish is extremely small, it seemed enormous to me. I looked around and saw what looked like a UNICEF poster of all God’s diverse and beautiful children praying as one. In the pew in front of us a woman signed for her deaf husband. Behind us a squealing toddler, Hispanic, made his get-away. Old and young, in a wide variety of hues, all Easter People, we listened together to music that came from half-way around the world to sing praise and alleluia to God of us all on this glad Easter morning. A wonderful gift to begin the Easter Season.