By Storyteller Antonio Sacre

 

Story Summary:

Occasionally, Antonio brings his friends and family to Catholic mass, not always with the results he hoped for. However, in Los Angeles, he goes to church with Mexican-American families where he finds people who are deeply into the ritual and their passion for their religion makes him proud. 

For a print friendly version of the transcript, click here: Mexicans-In-Church

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Do you go to a faith-based service of some kind? Is your church, temple, synagogue or mosque primarily one ethnic group? How do the ethnic cultures and religions in your community mix, influence and play off of one another?
  2. Why does going to a Mexican-American community’s church make Antonio proud to be Catholic?

 

Resources:

  •  Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church by Timothy Matovina
  • Mexican-American Catholics by Eduardo C. Fernandez

 

Themes:

  • Crossing Cultures
  • Education and Life Lessons
  • Interfaith
  • Latino Americans/Latinos

 

Full Transcript:

Sometimes I just have to share my Catholic faith with the people that I love.  And I try to drag in the church every now and then if I can.  But sometimes it seems that whenever I do get them to church invariably we don’t do as well as we possibly could in the mass.

For instance: I brought one of my friends to church and he heard the parking homily.  Yes I think that it’s important that we learned where to park our cars.  Officer Wiley’s ticketing now.  Thank you.

Or then when I took my dad to church he heard the hot the money homily.  Yes I think it’s important that you give as much money as possible all the time.   My dad doesn’t go to church anymore after that.  And I don’t know what it’s like in temple but when I go to church it’s very simple for the most part.  Basically this is what you do — you walk into the church you bless yourself with the water and then you stand.  And then you sit and then you kneel.  And then you stand and then you sit and listen to the priest give the homily where he gives you all kinds of hopeful wisdom and talks about the readings.  And then you sit and you kneel and then you stand and you sit and then you fork over all the change in your pocket.  Then you listen to about 48 minutes of announcements then you stand and then you’re gone.

In some Catholic masses this can all happen in 58 minutes and you have little tricks that you can get out of mass quicker if you want.  Like if you get to church after the readings but before the homily mass still counts.  And you can leave the second you take communion.  You see families running down the aisle with little kids in tow.  Now don’t get me wrong I still am a practicing Catholic and there are moments in Catholic mass that still are transcendent for me.  And I love to go.  But there are some times where we feel that we just quite miss the mark.  It seems to me that I’m the youngest member of the churches that I go to around the country when I travel for my job as a storyteller.  Sometimes I’m the youngest member by 30 or 40 years and I’m not that young anymore.

It’s — it’s beautiful to see these old people worshiping but I sometimes wonder where are the young people?  Young people show up of course at Christmas and Easter mass but not other times of the year.  Now there’s one case that I know at least where this is not true and these are the Spanish speaking Mexican masses mostly in Los Angeles.

Mexican people worship.  There’s no getting out of church of you are Mexican.  It doesn’t matter who you are.  If you’re just getting off of work the rolling in the mass.  There’s [not translatable] and all the cousins and uncles and everybody — everybody’s family comes on both sides.  You have [not translatable] and his girlfriend [not translatable] which nobody can say her real name, Stephanie, in English because you know that’s what [not translatable] that’s your name.  Okay?

You got the teenagers coming in with their pants down around their ankles.  The grandmothers smacking them in their ears to pull them back up.  You got gang bangers from the night before.  You’ve got all of the people there working…and you’ve got some of the most beautiful Mexican princesses.  That if you saw them on the street and you are Mexican it doesn’t matter how old or how young from 85 year old grey [not translatable] to three-year-old [not translatable] with as little Pampers on saying [not translatable].  But in church it’s like the girls don’t even exist.  They’re just there.

And the masses have the mariachi bands and the violins and it’s the beautiful homilies.  The priest goes on and on.  It’s an amazing moment.  And then you always get the mothers you should make your kids become priests homily which makes the young kids all upset, but the older people laugh because they know they’ve been through that as well.

And my favorite part of mass in Spanish in Los Angeles with all these beautiful Mexican families is after the homily the kiss of peace.  Now in the other masses that I go to the kiss of peace or the sign of peace takes about five seconds you just shake two hands in front two hands behind and you’re done.  But in Mexican masses in Los Angeles the kiss of peace goes on for hours it seems.  You go across the aisle hugging and back-slapping and kissing and yelling and the music is playing the mariachis bands going; the priest comes down from the altar and shakes every handy can and there’s always one little [not translatable] one little old man who makes it his personal mission to shake every single hand in that church and mass is not over until it happens.  And it makes me proud to be a Catholic.