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Within the Confines of His Dwelling Place

13 May

            As Catholics, it is my family’s obligation to hear mass every Sunday. Over the years, we have heard mass in different churches, until we finally settled with the masses held at our village. Last Sunday, May 6th, we decided to hear the 4:45 PM mas at Power Plant Mall, so we could have an early family dinner afterwards.

            Though we arrived twenty minutes early and it was just a regular Sunday, the chapel was packed; even the benches and Monobloc chairs set out for the latecomers were already occupied. Four of us – my mom, my two sisters and I – were able to find seats for ourselves as well as for my dad and my little brother. My mom and I set down our bags on the two extra chairs so we could save the seats for them. In just a few minutes, we were guilted for our actions; one of the mass commentators announced something along the lines of, “We highly discourage the reserving of seats. The Eucharist is an act of charity, and we should all take part in it by being selfless.” After hearing that, I noticed how lots of people were hovering around and looking lost because they had no seats to occupy, while my mom, my sisters and I looked so comfortable and relaxed – even our own bags had seats!

            My mom ended up giving away the two seats to a lady and her mother. “What about Daddy and Marco?” I asked. “Kakahiya naman to the people waiting,” was my mom’s reply. Though I sounded worried about our extra seats seats being given away, I was secretly relieved. It just didn’t feel right withholding what could be used by someone else – someone standing right in front of you.

            Because we were seated right by the entrance of the chapel, I was able to observe all the people coming in. I saw all kinds of different people; I saw people rushing in to make sure they found seats on time, people casually walking by even though they were late. I saw ladies in long skirts and their daughters in frilly dresses, mothers in pantsuits and girls in floor-length maxi skirts. I was able to see fathers in their polo shirts, and teenage boys in t-shirts and low-rise jeans. On the other hand, I also saw the occasional teenage girl in very short, very tight shorts, failing to observe the dress code. Those in tops with low necklines and in short shorts and miniskirts honestly disturbed me, but then it occurred to me that I shouldn’t be quick to judge. After all, I just learned in class recently that the clothes we wear do not always reflect who we are and that fashion does not mirror personality – sometimes it all just boils down to the situations we find ourselves in. Especially now that it’s summer, lots of people may have just preferred to dress for the weather; others were simply dressed for the mall, seeing as the mass was being held inside one. Some dress the way they do because it’s all they have left, and some others dress simply because they want to impress (a lot of people do go to mass).

            Aside from their fashion statements, I was also able to observe how these people behaved during mass. Yes, as a matter of fact, I happen to do this every Sunday – but this was a special case, as I was hearing mass somewhere different and therefore, I had a whole new group of people to observe. I watched as children gave up seats for the elderly, how nurses and personal helpers catered to old people on wheelchairs with care. I noticed how some people (including my family) maximized all the space available by letting their kids sit in between chairs placed side to side – in our case, my little brother sat in between my mom and I. I saw some people talk, check their watches for the time and use their cellphones as readings were being read and as the priest gave his homily. I observed the blank looks on people’s faces as they spaced out and were deep in thought. I noticed how packed it was immediately outside the chapel, as people tried to get a good listen of the readings and the homily. Best of all, I noticed those who were truly paying attention, most especially the ones who smiled and laughed at the jokes the priest made during his sermon. In the case of those whose minds all seemed to be elsewhere – “Why were they even here?” was the thought that crossed my mind.

            But my mind immediately changed as the mass went on. As we all gave each other the sign of peace, I could see the love in people’s eyes as they hugged and kissed their loved ones and smiled at the strangers that surrounded them. I could see the intent looks on people’s faces as they prayed after receiving communion. And then it occurred to me that all these people could’ve gone elsewhere – we were even situated in a mall! But these people took the time to come to the chapel and hear mass; these people ignored or at least resisted the temptation to walk out of mass and into restaurants and stores and stayed inside instead, no matter how boring they may have found the service. I gathered that maybe not everyone truly enjoys the sacrament of the Eucharist, but they still take the time to worship their God, to pray fervently within the confines of a place where He is said to dwell, and to spend intimate time together as a family.

– Gabriella Salud

SA 21 – J

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