Sunday, September 13, 2009

Joe Wilson in the Cathedral?

Joe Wilson in the Cathedral?

Saturday evening, September 12th and the faithful gathered at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, DC for the annual Mass for the Blessing of Human Labor, which has been held on or around Labor Day for better than fifty years. The Archbishop was presiding and in attendance were leaders and rank and file members of the labor movement. Entering the Cathedral , I joked with my companion that some of the people participating in the anti-tax/anti-Obama rally earlier that day might inadvertently be attending.

Maybe not as much as the more high class Red Mass that will be celebrated next month for the legal profession and the judiciary, but it was a solemn affair – the Archbishop incensing the altar, the deacon singing his parts, the choir at its best. Yes, some of the union members in attendance came in their work clothes as is custom, but it was no clown Mass with liturgical dance during the canon.

All was good until around the middle of the Mass, when one person decided some “audience participation” was needed. On my part, first shock, and then hearing whispered to me “Is Joe Wilson in the Cathedral?”

Is this where we have come? First during a presidential address to a formal joint session of Congress and now at Mass in the Cathedral?

After the first outburst (there would be more), my stomach knotted and I became more sensitive to my surroundings. Yes, it did seem some of the congregation were from the tax protest but I could not tell if the “Wilsonista” I noticed was. When the Archbishop called forward the union stewards present for a special blessing, I heard murmurs from a pew back about the “SEIU” t-shirts some wore.

After Mass, the Archbishop hosted a pleasant reception for the union officials and others present and over some food, drink and fellowship, the tension passed away. I started to take even some amusement about some well-intentioned conservative protesters fulfilling Sunday obligation and by chance exposed to the Labor Mass. But I am seriously disturbed that Congressman Wilson’s action on the floor of the House has now emboldened others to misbehave at serious events, even Holy Mass.


Thom Curnutte said...

I thought I'd heard it all.... God bless the Archbishop for taking this on, in spite of everything.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Oh please! I've been at masses where the priest was preaching on pro-life and people got up and walked out in a way to draw plenty of attention to themselves.

As for your snide comment about Joe Wilson, I've also been at meetings where pro-lifers are shouted down and been denied the right to speak at all.

It will be interesting to see whether this comment passes moderation.

Katherine said...

I'm sorry to read, Mary Ann, that you think heckling at Mass is just another day in the park.

I think it is something much more serious, and a sad commentary on our society (or, at least, elements of it).