Sunday, January 19, 2003

Yesterday, we took an impromput road trip up Toledo way. Road trips in the middle of winter might not be the wisest ways to spend a Saturday, but except for a brief scare around late afternoon, when snow started coming down pretty hard, we had no problems.

We're doing a booksigning at a Catholic bookstore in Toledo in March - part of an evening the store owner is putting on featuring Pat Madrid as a speaker and several others, including us, signing books. We figured it might be good to see where the place is beforehand, so after a few wrong turns - mostly my fault, probably - we found it, if you must know, in the same shopping mall we'd stopped at to find a restroom before we drove about 4 miles north...oh well.

Anyway, the bookstore owner was very nice and runs a good little store. After our stop there, we headed to the Toledo Museum of Art, which has a fine collection, including a special exhibition of medieval gold-leaf pieces. It wasn't the most leisurely visit, what with Joseph fully awake, alert and demanding "down" most of the time, but nonetheless, it was a pleasant mid-winter excursion. Then it was off to find a Mass - we wanted to go to the Cathedral, but we didn't have an address, and so we drove around heading towards promising spires and domes, finding each time, not the Cathedral, but, more often than not, one more shuttered Catholic church..We eventually ended up at this parish, and I swear, every time I vow to be positive and stop being so critical, I have an experience like this. No, it wasn't wretched, but still:

*Was there any liturgical music written before or after 1974-1982? From the evidence presented in many parishes, including this one, you wouldn't know it.

*Ushers: do not shake people's hands as they are in line for Communion - sure, you see it all the time when ushers are glad-handing people they know as the spill out the pews, but here, our usher insisted on shaking everyone's hand as they shuffled past him. It didn't help that with his aquiline nose and long black hair tied back in a ponytail, he reminded me of Furio on the Sopranos. I was afraid he was going to reach out and swat me and say, "You have bee on your head."

Finally - the church had a large crucifix hanging from the ceiling. But I didn't know this until we reached our first seat (in our quest to find a spot where Joseph wouldn't disturb anyone) in the choir loft where I could see the crucifix - behind the huge banner of the risen Christ that had been hung up in front of it.

Now, I don't think it's swift too replace an already present crucifix with something else, but it seemed to me to be almost shocking to just blatantly hang a big ol' banner right in front of it, hiding it from view....

And through it all, Jesus still present, still Real...focus. Focus.

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