Sunday, April 27, 2014

St. Bartholomew - Little Rock

Good Sunday to you.  I hope you all had a good Easter.  I was in St. Louis for Easter visiting my family.

I've been moving this past week and managed to give myself heat exhaustion.  Between that and the severe weather expected today, I stayed in Little Rock.  Because of the severe weather, I decided that this morning would be the best time to visit a church in the not so middle class section of town.

I attended the 9 am Mass at St. Bartholomew in Little Rock.  It's pretty close to Central High School.  It was hard to believe that this was a church in the middle of an urban area.  It's a wood frame church similar to many churches found out in rural areas.

It's a predominately African-American parish.  Many of the members were dressed very fancy or in very fancy traditional African costume.  The Sanctuary curtains were of a kente cloth.  Father's vestments also featured kente cloth.

Before Mass, we greeted each other with "Be Blessed in the Name of the Lord."

Father wore his stole on the outside of his chasuble.  Nearly every prayer, except for the Eucharistic Prayer (He used II by the way) was adlibbed with a saying from today's Gospel:  "Jesus said to them three times, "Peace be with You."

Music was provided by the children's choir accompanied by a piano.
Opening:  He Has Done Great Things for Me.
Offertory:  Our God is Awesome
Communion:  Let Us Break Bread Together (At a funeral pace...not that it makes it any more appropriate)
Communion Meditation:  This Little Light of Mine (with Clapping!)
Closing:  was not on the board and I left (more about this)

Today was First Communion for 4 children at the parish.

Father:  God is Good
People:  All the Time
Father:  All the Time
People:  God is Good
This is the day the Lord has made.  Other churches have no one being baptized, receiving First Communion, Confirmation, no RCIA.  We are blessed.  If you go to a Church and there are no babies crying, then that Church is dead (or you're at a 6 am Mass or all the kids have been stuffed into the "cry room" thanks to dirty looks or have gone off to Children's Liturgy).  In the Gospel, we hear Peace be with you.  In times of trouble we want someone to tell us peace, peace be with you (no...I want to hear their plans to fix it...)  The door is locked.  It is a spiritual lock keeping Jesus out.  We lock away because of fear.  Fear is a prison.  We put ourselves into prison.  The Apostles have imprisoned themselves.  They have chained themselves in the room.  They are paralyzed by fear.  Fear keeps us from letting anyone into our hearts.  Three times He said "Peace be with you"  He showed the apostles He was alive.  Imagine if Jesus appeared to us right now.  We would call 911 (uhm...I'd be like break out the Holy Water and the blessed salt.)  Jesus appears to us through others.  We should rejoice.  He appears to us if we have eyes of Faith.  We see the bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Jesus.  In the First Reading, they lived in community, redistributing things according to need.  If I had you bring all your things and redistribute them, you wouldn't come back.  Pray people of justice.  No peace.  We are selfish.  (Yes...I didn't need to buy that hammock that provided a livelihood for someone...)  We don't share what God has given us (I share my snark...) Equal distribution of goods (awww is Father a closet Communist?)  No justice no peace.  (Why am I not interesting discussion.)

The homily was rather long.  The Offertory didn't start until 9:43.  The first Communicants brought up grapes (ok), tomatoes (uhm), bananas (uh uh) and avocados (what are crops that require hand picking and so the workers (who tend to be illegal/not native/not educated) are under paid?)

The Our Father was sung and there was hand holding across the church.  I tried to avoid it but the elderly lady was rather insistent.  There were bells at the Consecration.  The parish sits during Communion.  The first Communion kids knelt to receive Communion.  During the Communion march, random people kept patting my back.

After Communion the First Communion kids read a pledge to be pure and holy, not to drink, not to smoke, to be modest, to be pure.

After the Closing Prayer, there were speakers.  Now, I don't necessarily truck with speakers at Mass but I can understand the need for parishes to announce special events or beg for money or what have you.  I'm not thrilled with it but I tolerate it.  Today's speakers were from UAPB (University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff), a historically black university, giving the usual college spiel.  Mass was going on 1.25 hours and there were still visitors to announce.  I left when the second UAPB speaker got up.  Yeah no.  I'm not truckin with that.  For the record, I would have been annoyed had it been a Catholic school.  Why they had to speak at Mass was beyond me.  A simple announcement of we have some visitors from UAPB, please speak with them after Mass if you're interested would have been sufficient.   Meh.


St. Bartholomew
View from the Back Pew

Station VIII

St. Bartholomew


  1. Beautiful little church. Too bad they did not mention Divine Mercy.

  2. I probably would have felt right at home there. My choir sings all the songs you listed. They probably came from either the African American Heritage Hymnal( or the Lead Me, Guide Me Hymnal( The reason there was no number listed for the closing is because the choir was using music not in the hymnals. We do that often too.Nice little church.

    1. Except that the African American Heritage Hymnal is not Catholic. There's no nilhl obstat or imprintaur or any sign of Ecclesial Authority approving it for use in a Catholic Liturgy. What in the world is a responsive reading? I'm also confused at to how the black church year trumps the Catholic one. This is what drives me bonkers. Let's throw away allow our Traditions so we can be just like the Protestants. What is th point of being Catholic?

  3. No, there is no Nihil obstat but it is a Catholic Hymnal nontheless. I don't think everything Catholic has to have the N O or the Imprimatur anymore. What do you mean by "how the black church year trumps the Catholic one"? Or a "responsive reading"? The different ethnic peoples in the Church have traditions of their own. They just are not necessarily Western European based.

  4. Lead Me Guide Me is a Catholic hymnal. It has eccelsiastical approval and uses the Catholic bible. The other one has no approval, talks about the 7 black churches and uses the Protestant bible. I have no problem with ethnic traditions naturally coming into the Catholic Church. I do have a problem when those traditions are thinly veiled Protestantism. For the record, I'm not fully Western European, but I'm not demanding the Catholic Church bend itself to my cultural. Nor am I demanding that it become American. The catholic church is supposed to be universal and outside all that crap. It isnt supposed to be the Asian catholic church, the European catholic church, the african catholic church or the Martian catholic church. It is supposed to be one catholic church. Bring your traditions into the church fine. But it better be catholic traditions and not Protestant ones. Otherwise what is the point of being Catholic.

  5. I don't believe a hymnal has to have an NO. I think what Snup's referring to is that we are ONE Church. Yes, there are local customs, but the liturgy is the liturgy. The whole Church is supposed to celebrate feast days (like Divine Mercy), not ignore them in favor of a political agenda.

    You know, one of the reasons why Catholics were so hated in the south is that even before the abolition of slavery Catholic congregations were never segregated - black and white people worshipped together side by side, and we even ordained black priests.

  6. Sorry Mike, but the African American Catholic churches in the South WERE segregated. In the Richmond area, there were several African American congregations. The bishop finally closed them during the 60s or 70s to integrate the churches My own home parish was Caucasian. The people fled to the suburbs when the neighborhood was integrated and my parish became 99% Black. I love my parish and will never leave it. I had to rewrite because the earlier message wouldn't go through. Hope this one does.