“The Simpler Times Are Over”

Rosend Pena, Editor

“May the almighty Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit bless you.” These words were branded into my skull leaving a mark I would never forget. As an 8-year-old, this phrase echoed through the hollow walls of my mind, attacking any other thought that was not in common with it. I’d run home after suffering through multiple college like lectures detailing the order of our solar system or figuring out which day of the week it was. My awkward silence and nervous laughter indicated that I did not comprehend these lessons. However, my mind was at ease when I would instead turn to the hard copy bible for kids that laid next to one of the six Jesus statues in my house. Surprisingly, the bible was simpler and more entertaining to me than school books. 

School always felt like a burden to my fourth-grade self, and time-traveling back to those days would be infested with memories of crying, yelling, and most embarrassing, the frequent bedwetting. Each school day proved the notion that I was not smart school smart as my parents termed it, but I really didn’t care. I was too busy enthralled, engrossed, and entertained by powerful stories in the bible. How a weak, small, boy destroyed the strong, large Goliath or of a mother who is so holy that sin has never touched her, and the most captivating being the story of a man who sacrificed and gave his life for me. “Why me?”, I asked my mother one Saturday morning. She looked at my eyebrows and forehead wrinkling, almost resembling two caterpillars reaching to touch each other. She responded by expressing the idea that this man, God, took a great time creating all of us, every small detail, and would love us even after our end. I felt a large amount of self-worth hearing this idea which fueled my drive to learn more about the Catholic faith that heavily cherished me. 

Unfortunately, the fuel gauge started to empty rapidly as I reached the age of 12, where I started to question if this faith really did cherish me. I noticed on the news that all the major headlines did not pertain to the big idea of love, but leaned more towards violence, racism, and hate. As these school shootings, police brutality and blatant racism were being reported on a large scale, I noticed hate on a more personal level specifically in my own church where I was “loved”.

I always glanced through the missalette, a shortened packet describing the activities the church will have throughout the week, before mass. I always thought it was odd that the missalette would be divided into two sections, the English mass, and the Spanish mass. The English mass would start at the cover of the packet and in blue, sized 24 Bree Serif font, would have writing containing various activities that would eventually conclude at around the third page. Then, the Spanish mass would start its section in the middle of the third page and end five lines before the end of the same page. Its font, the default, black, sized 12, Times New Roman. Clearly, the English mass section is more detailed and better presented than the Spanish one —  but why? I will concede that the English mass always prepares lots of activities and attracts most of the occupants to church. But even then, it feels like the section in the English mass is so detailed and very well thought out, contrary to the Spanish mass’s informal and very inadequate language. This enhances the idea that the English mass makes it a priority to always look better than the Spanish mass, a superiority of some type. When my mom offered to write the Spanish missalette section, she was quickly rejected by various people with comments that only the head priest, a white male, can write and type up the missalette. To this day, the Spanish section continues to be bland and dull, closely resembling that of a practice S.A.T article. 

Looking through the missalette one morning, I noticed in very small print on the Spanish mass section, it stated, “Sign the Petition to Move the Spanish Mass Into the Cathedral Building Upstairs.” To provide context, the Spanish mass was in the basement of the church, directly above was the English Cathedral building with its beautiful ceiling and gorgeous stained glass windows. The basement had two glass windows, five wooden benches and the altar was a plastic table with a white cloth over. The space was given to the Spanish mass as it grew from five people to around thirty in its first year. Now, with a population of over sixty-five, the room resembled more of a packed dog kennel than a chapel. 

I jumped at the opportunity seen through the missalette and told my mom who immediately made an announcement in the Spanish mass. Everyone was overwhelmed with joy when hearing the news. As word got around the parish, the Spanish leaders were invited to a meeting to discuss this with the head priest. Five minutes and thirty-two seconds later, my mom and many other leaders walked out of the room. My smile lessened as I examined each person’s facial expressions. After hearing in on my mother’s conversations, I found out that in order to host a mass in the Cathedral building, there needs to be a minimum of two-hundred active members and a steady cash flow of around one hundred fifty dollars per mass for bills. A large part of me wanted to believe that this idea was fair, but I couldn’t let myself do it. That’s what they want me to do. To believe that they are acting fair and righteous when really they are suppressing us. My own parish, where I was taught everything I know about faith, was truly suppressing me because of my race. 

The following Sunday, I contracted a very severe illness resulting in my absence from mass. As the weeks passed, the illness progressively worsened. The confusing part about this disease is that there are no physical symptoms associated with it. No doctor could diagnose the problem. While I still maintain this illness, I will be unable to participate in any masses because it may be very contagious. If not acted upon quickly, it may be fatal.  

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