Michael Battalio

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

a celebration

Pretend this entry was written on Sunday. That's when I meant to
write it, but being home, I was too lazy to do anything.

There are three Catholic Churches in Vicksburg. One of the older
ones, St. Mary's, celebrated its centennial this weekend. St. Mary's
is the majority black church in Vicksburg, but for whatever reason my
grandparents attended that church even though it is the farthest from
my house. So, for the first twelve or thirteen years of my life I
attended that church. I have quite the connection there. I was
baptized there and I have first communion and reconciliation there.
And because of that I felt I should attend the celebratory Mass. I
was very much in for a surprise. There were thirteen priests
celebrating. Eight of those from the Jackson diocese. (In case you
are curious, 8/72 yields over a tenth of the entire Jackson diocese
there.) Mass lasted almost two hours. And if you hadn't known it
was a Roman Catholic service, you would have guessed that we were in
some amalgam of a Pentecostal and Southern Baptist church. There
were people yelling Amen during the homily. The priest was pounding
on the pulpit. And the music was a cultural awakening of sorts, a
full choir with an older woman with a spectacular voice banging on an
old, upright, out of tune piano. The word that comes to mind is
honky tonky, the piano, not the woman. The organ was a classic,
almost stereotypical sound one would expect from a Southern, small
town black church, a lot of vibrato, a sound that echoed through the
entire church. The entire experience was something I've never been
around. I'm not sure what I don't have very many memories of the
church when I was young. But I did like it, something else to make
life interesting.

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