Take a break
St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral
Nobody cares about a writer’s deadlines except the writer and the writer’s editor and possibly the writer’s family. In fact, it’s considered a hallmark of bad writing to write about deadlines—letting readers see the process—and that’s the very reason I do it all the time, particularly in Filet of Soul. It allows readers to connect to the idea that everyone—not just themselves—are faced with time constraints, and that it’s hard to make spirituality a part of day-to-day life. For example, I was out of town for the weekend. I’m a bit tired of doing essays on faith, and I wanted to go to a church service. There ya go. My home’s heater went out on Sunday, and I was stuck waiting for the repairman on Monday. No time for church.
Thankfully, it’s the season of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter of prayer, penance, fasting and self-denial—the church’s most serious deadline. See how everything comes around? I knew there’d be a service somewhere. I found a noon mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral, but I’ve got to tell you, I was shocked when I got there.
First, I haven’t visited this church since the first week of this column back in April 2007. They’ve been doing a renovation of the cathedral for a while now, and the differences inside the church are obvious. Places where things were looking a little rundown are back in tip-top shape. I just about always encourage religious tourism, but I’d have to say, if you’ve never been to a Catholic church in Reno—and even if you have—this little cathedral is really worth checking out. The stained glass is among the best in town, and the religious iconography around the sanctuary is just really stunning.
Secondly, and more to the point, the place was packed. Remember, this was Tuesday at noon (12:10 p.m. to be precise), and there were 43 people saying the rosary when I arrived at 11:50 a.m. (11:30 start). By the time formal mass started, there were 83 people in the sanctuary.
Anyway, Father Bruce led the service (and on this, I’m taking the word of whomever answered the phone on my return to the office). There were two readings, the first from Ezekiel 14, which describes construction of a temple. I’m pretty sure the temple was never built, but it stands as a metaphor for the church and man’s place in it.
The second reading was from John’s gospel, Chapter 5, the story of Jesus curing a cripple outside a pool. The bottom line was that by telling the man, who’d been sick for 38 years, to pick up his bed and walk, both the cured man and Jesus were breaking the law by working on the Sabbath. (Am I in trouble? I work almost every Sunday.)
At any rate, the elders of Jerusalem would use that lawbreaking to bring Jesus down.
Father Bruce spoke mainly about the purpose in honoring the Sabbath. He said the reason people rest on the Sabbath is to be like the original Sabbath honorer, God, who after making light and the heavens and the Earth and the animals, fish, people, etc., took the day off.
“The purpose of the Jews to rest on the Sabbath was to be like God.” He also said that God gets to do what God wants on the Sabbath, and, “God was also doing something on that particular Sabbath. God, on that particular Sabbath, chose to work through Jesus” to heal the lame man.
“There is more to the Commandments than just a rule,” said the priest. “There is more to the precepts of the church than just a rule. What are the reasons? To help us become more like God.”
He ended the sermon with the word, “Amen,” but he asked it with an upturned tone, like a question. His flock emphatically responded, “Amen.”