Right now there are five priests and two permanent deacons on staff there, and the liturgy they offer is as traditional and solemn as a Novus Ordo Mass could possibly be, especially during the weekday. The Sunday bulletin is essentially a ten page magazine that is filled from cover to cover with programs and activities for every demographic of the parish. Saint Matthew the Apostle church is the closest thing I’ve found in Columbus to my Dominican Parish back home in Youngstown, Ohio. At this particular 10:OO am liturgy, the Mass was being celebrated by Most Reverend Edward J. Burns, Bishop of the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, who was in town visiting family who would have their new child Baptized at a later Mass.
I hope I’ve painted an adequate enough picture for you here, so that you’ll appreciate the rest of the story.
So, there we were standing and awaiting the final blessing from the Bishop and out-of-no-where in the center circular section near-rear of Church a woman, short in stature, perhaps in her mid-fifties, wearing a white veil over that had slightly fallen over her eyes stands up, with her arms up and outward in the direction of the sanctuary, palms slightly inward. She was wearing a long sleeve open-vest black sweater over, perhaps, a summer dress, which was white with some black patterns on it. I was standing in the next section to a right and hadn’t noticed her until she began praying very loud, “The wrath of God is upon this nation. It is time to repent of our sins.”
After she said that, the thought that immediately came to me was that this woman was a Protestant who was about to say something about the Whore of Babylon next, but she didn’t. She did start praying aloud and very loud about why the wrath of God is upon the country. She was praying about things like abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and lesbianism. She prayed about a number of other things, but those are the ones I can remember, because they stuck out for me.
So the next thought that came to me was that this might be a regular occurrence at Saint Matthew’s. I thought that because the woman seemed quite scripted and everyone was quiet. Most people were still looking towards the sanctuary. The longer it went on, the more people started to turn around, and it went on for about a whole minute.
Things are bad in this country, but wrath of God only seemed to be concerned today with sexual evils, and not all the other stuff. Towards the end of her prayer, some men in black suits and slicked-back hair started moving fast towards her pew, and just when they squeezed past the guy sitting on the end, she sat down. The man immediately to her right was taller than everyone else at Mass, and may have been her husband. He was very supportive of her throughout and after. I should mention that no one said, ‘Lord hear our prayer’ after she had finished . . .
Now that was something I never saw before at Mass. I mean, I use to be a Protestant, and stuff like that was normal-hat, but at Mass? I actually appreciated the spontaneity of it all and I wanted to ask the guy next to me if this happens here all the time, but then I collected my thoughts a little more and realized that when the Priest stood up and said the prayers for the community, and offered a moment of silence for the intentions in our heart, that was the appropriate time for this woman to pray her intentions interiorly, and then we all could have joined her intentions by saying, ‘Lord hear our prayers.’
A moment or so passed after the woman sat down, before the Bishop stood up to give the final blessing. It was then that the next thought came to me, ‘WOW! That must have been pretty embarrassing to the pastor the other regular parishioners’. LOL You ever had new company over at your house and your kids start to act like lunatics fresh out of Hell? And all you can think is, ‘I hope my guests don’t think this happens all the time,’ and you tell them, ‘They don’t usually act like this. I don’t know what’s wrong with them.’ I think that is how the good people at Saint Matthew must have felt today.
You ever been driving and traffic starts going very slow, and you wonder why? Then some time passes and you pass by some sort of collision that is over in the medium? Then right after you pass the accident scene the traffic speed picks back up? That anyways annoys me, because I’m like the only reason why traffic was slow was because these nosy people are rubbernecking instead of driving. Yeah, that’s how it was trying to get out of Church! Everyone and their momma was rubbernecking the God’s Wrath Prayer Lady and trying to ear-hustle what the men in black were saying to her and her husband(?) instead of walking out and getting into their car!
I finally did get into my car, drove to Dunkin Donuts to grab an Oreo Cream-filled doughnut and an orange juice, and called my oldest daughter on the phone on the way to tell her about what happened at Mass. She laughed hysterically. I told her, “I’m gonna have to blog about this one. I’ve never seen anything like that.”