Today I went to St. Albert the Great. It serves the NMSU and the surrounding neighborhood. I expected, (hoped?) to find a younger, more tolerant crowd. That didn’t happen, but what did was not unpleasant or disagreeable either.
I arrived a bit early. The church is in the adobe style, modern, meaning post Vatican II. It was pleasant inside although the pews were without kneelers. For those who don’t know me much, I am, good or bad, rather impressed or depressed by the physicality of a church. Some leave me flat and spiritless, others inspire. I prefer the latter.
This did inspire, until I sat down. For the next 10-15 minutes I was hailed by a variety of aged men and women, who chattered so loudly that at times I thought I was in a sports arena filling for a title bout. The usual complaints and explanations of physical ailments, treatments and medications ensued. Hardly the place where one can quiet one’s mind turn toward God. You can make the usual arguments, I’m well aware that I’m being petty.
About three minutes before Mass, the place began to fill with the families and the college fare until it was fully bursting at the seams.
The music began, part in Spanish and part in English, which I find utterly delightful, and voices rose in harmony and vigor.
So far, my experiences in New Mexican Catholic churches suggest that most homilies are left to the deacon. This one was neither especially good or bad, average, which most are. Father was attentive and friendly.
I learned that the diocese is getting a new bishop and the parish a new priest. This suggests to me a great time to schedule an appointment and go in and talk to Father about my marriage issues, and get a feel for the reception I might receive there as a permanent member. It will be a bit of drive when we move to our new house (should we get it), but still it is only 20 minutes, and frankly the only one close to our new house has an awful mass time of 11 am which I dislike. And I’m not particularly fond of Saturday evening masses, though I will surely do it at least once to give it a chance.
All in all, my first impression was bad, but my the end of the Mass I found myself quite taken with it. It was much more warm it seemed to me than the Cathedral which is no cathedral at all, and cannot even maintain a piano player for the Sunday mass.
I find all this surprising, since New Mexico is overwhelmingly Catholic. I expected to find really old churches here, instead I find that most are modern and rather unappealing architecturally speaking. The one closest to our new home, looks from the outside to be a warehouse that has been converted. It’s long and low. Where are my spiraling and soaring vaults to heaven?
Again, I know, the place is not important. But frankly it is to me. This has always been the case and frankly I don’t think I’ll be changing now.
Anyway, it was a good Pentecost.