As noted previously, Fr. Tim Gray is spending the last part of his sabbatical in South America, living and ministering with our SCJ communities there. He writes the following:
Vivat Cor Jesu!” “Per Cor Mariae!” The old Latin greetings (Latin as in Rome, not Latin America) rang out as SCJs from all around the area came through the doors of Dehon Seminary in Lavras to celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart. Joined in spirit by SCJs throughout the world, 20 priests, five seminarians and a brother celebrated the Mass of the Sacred Heart and renewed their vows. We were joined by about 30 lay Dehonians, and also by the 15 high school seminarians, who supplied the music for the Mass.
It is difficult to describe the joyful solemnity of the liturgies I have participated in here. I have lived in Mexico and have ministered with people from other Latin American cultures, so I am comfortable with the traditional religious expressions of piety common to those cultures. At the same time, at the liturgies I have participated in in Brazil, I am impressed with the way the liturgy forms community and (at least with SCJs) challenges people to move beyond piety to action.
I enjoyed singing the sign of the cross and the penitential rite, and other parts of the Mass. I noted that the entire Eucharistic prayer is a dialogue, with the assembly responding ten times during the prayer. But my favorite exchange is this: (Celebrant) “The Lord be with you!” (Assembly) “Yes, God in our midst!” To be honest, I received better catechesis on liturgy and ecclesiology from attending one liturgy here than I did during the year of preparation that led up to the new Missal in the USA. I can’t speak for the whole country of Brazil, but so far I have been very impressed at the way the SCJs place the liturgy as the summit and font of their pastoral activity.
In other circumstances, I would consider 22 weekend Masses and 22 more Masses during the week (in ten locations, plus home Masses for the base communities) to be an excessive work load for four priests. However, if the liturgy does what it is supposed to do, it is well worth it. I am glad to have the opportunity to stay here for four weeks so I can experience how this works out in practice. (They have already put me in the pastoral schedule– I am being inflicted on a smaller rural community, but a deacon will accompany me to preach). I also want to find out more about how the lay Dehonian groups function. So stay tuned.
And, on a lighter note: I was walking back to the parish office when I heard a shout: “Chin O Chee!” I continued walking, and a car pulled up alongside, and I saw the photographer who had taken pictures at the Mass and gathering. He shouted again “Chin O Chee!” I guess that will be my name for the duration, because Portuguese does something which, oddly enough, English does as well. A “T” followed by “I” is pronounced “ch” so there go the T’s in my name. We do the same thing in words like “nation” and wonder why English is so hard to learn.
Enjoy the summer. It’s in the 60s and 70s here — very comfortable.
-Fr. Tim Gray, SCJ