For my field research and final paper, I went to a Catholic church by the name of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church, which is located in Dana point, California. In the 1960’s Father Ozias Cook was the pastor of Our lady Fatima in San Clemente. It was from here that the Father gathered people to build a chapel to serve the people of that area (what is now Dana Point). In the early days as the parish was being formed the Baltimore Catechism was taught along with the traditional Prayer. As the population of Dana Point continued to expand the need of a church that was going to be permanent was pressing.
The Building finally officially opened in 1980 to serve the religious education needs of the parish. This included being the only Catholic preschool in all of south Orange County. Over the years, the parish has collected donations and raised funds to expand and grow with the community so that they can welcome anyone that wants to join. The church was beautifully set up and felt like what I would have imagined a Catholic church were to look like. The service was a Sunday night mass that happened at 5:30 pm over Thanksgiving break.
I attended the service with my close friend Ema and her family who have been members of this church for years after she had mentioned the church to me. The service of mass lasted about an hour and 15 minutes long and I stayed for the entire hour and 15 minutes. I was informed that normally the mass would only last about an hour but the service that I had attended that Sunday night went a little over time. St. Edward also has weekday Masses at 8:15 am and 5:30 pm, and then the times for the Eve of Holy Day are at 5:30 pm; on the Holy Day they are at 8:15 am, 5:30 pm, 7:30 pm.
Because I was not raised with any religious beliefs or background and still to not have any religious preference I could have chosen any of the religions that were an option for us(Judaism, Islamic, or Catholicism/Christianity). I chose to go to this Catholic Mass because Catholicism is the most practiced belief within my group of friends. I am always hearing about their experiences and what Catholicism as a religion has brought to their lives. It interested me the most out of all of the religions and I figured I would see what all of my friends were talking about.
In Catholicism, they have a celebration of mass. The celebration of Mass is to show its unity and dependence of God. Mass is the central act of worship in the catholic church. After the service that I attended I was able to talk to the Priest (Father Dan). He explained to me that Mass is about spending time with God while receiving his grace. There are normally four parts to a Mass. The first part is the Introductory Rite, then you have the liturgy of the Word, a third is the liturgy of the Eucharist, and the final part is the concluding rite.
There were two main parts to the service that I attended; The first part of the mass was the liturgy of the Word and the second part went over the liturgy of the Eucharist. The liturgy of the Word includes reading from scripture and sermons. This part of the mass usually consists of three readings; a reading from the New Testament of a non-Gospel, a reading from the Old Testament, and then finally a reading from the Gospels. Then after the readings the priest delivered the homily, this normally focuses on one of the readings that was read on that day or it can change if the day of the mass is a special occasion.
The day that I attended the homily focused on the readings that we had read to us that day. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the part of the service that includes the offertory and the prayer. This is the part of the service that is considered the high point. An Offertory song is usually sung while the donations of the people (Attendants of the service) are being brought to the front of the church, where the altar is located. At the service that I attended, there was not a song sung but as assistants came to the end of each row of pews with a basket which people put in donations (big and small) the priest said a prayer of thanks to God.
The prayer is to thank God for the gifts of bread and wine that are changed into Christ’s body and blood. The social dynamics of the service while I attended were different at the beginning before mass and during the mass. Before and after the mass everyone was very welcoming and social. During the Mass, everyone is quiet and only speaks when spoken to, when they are doing the apostles creed, or when saying a prayer. Over the last 400 years, there have been very little changes to the celebration of mass.
The Eucharistic prayer has been unchanged for at least 1,000 years. There are a “few popes that have made minor changes to the missal” over time. (Barron, Robert E) The missal is a book that contains the readings, prayers, and rubrics that are authorized by the Roman Catholic church. Another change that was made was made by Pope John the XXII who “added the name of St. Joseph to the cannon of the mass. ”(pg. 163) My overall experience was very successful. I learned a lot about the catholic religion that I did not already know.
Because I was fortunate enough to attend the service with a close friend of mine. It made the experience a lot more enjoyable and comfortable for me. I was able to talk to the priest, Father Dan after the Mass was over. When I spoke with him he explained to me how he got to become a priest and for how long this had been his profession. Father Dan said that one day he was called on by god at the age of 23 to become a priest and decided that he would give it a try. He has never regretted his decision of listening to the call of God and has been a priest for 30 years now.
Besides talking to the Priest at the end of the service, I got to have a small talk with the greeters before we entered the church for Mass. They were very welcoming and asked me why I was attending their service and how I had learned about their parish. Since I was not raised with any religious background and still do not have and religious background, I found my experience to be a very uplifting and enlightening. There were some moments of confusions which led to a little boredom because I did not know what was going on or I did not understand what the Priest was talking about.
During this time, I would ask my friend to clarify some things, but it was a little difficult because you are not supposed to talk during the service and I did not want to disrespect the priest or any of the people who were attending the Mass that night. I got to see how people with a religious faith and background take in the events of their everyday lives. I did know that there are sins that you can commit in the catholic faith, but there were some that I learned that I had no idea were actual sins.
Two of the sins that I didn’t know were actual sins were that it is a sin for women to take birth control because your job is to reproduce. The second sin that was new to me was pride; you cannot have overweening pride or arrogance. The new knowledge that I have gained from attending the Catholic Mass is that the Catholic church seems to have more rules and motions during their church ceremonies than they do before and after the ceremonies/Mass. The Catholic church is very open and the diversity that is in the church is very broad and they want anyone that wants to join to join.
Everyone that follows the catholic faith seems to be very passionate about their beliefs and want to welcome any newcomers to their faith. To me, the Catholic church and its followers are a very strong community. They all share a strong sense of community and all share a song sense of faith with one another. For most people in this world, religion is a huge part of their daily lives and it is what their world revolves around. It is an amazing experience for anyone, of any religion to get to experience a new religion; it can open your eyes to something you never even thought of.
My time at St. Edwards parish was a big eye opener for, even though I did not get to spend that much time there it showed me what was out there and what I have been missing all of these years from not having a religion to follow or a faith to call my own. I was able to see how you can, not only be passionate and dedicated towards yourself, but you can be passionate and dedicated to God, a high power. This gives purpose and meaning to people and that is something that you can’t just find on your own.