Friday, July 4, 2014

A Church in Houston

I was last in Houston for Pascha, visiting my mother and attending the Hajme, Mattins, Lauds, and Divine Liturgy with the nascent Melkite community there. I was back in Houston to see my mother and father for Independence Day and to re-connect in general. On a whim I decided to go to Confession at nearby Christ the Redeemer Church.

Christ the Redeemer reflects much of what I have seen in Dallas: large communities with considerable wealth; bland modern styling; separate chapels for daily Masses and Confession; communitarian arrangements; offices for full-time paid lay staff; and a mixed congregation of second generation Mexicans and third generation Republicans.

As with St. Francis of Assisi in Frisco, Christ the Redeemer has architectural potential that goes unfulfilled, although I think it has less potential than the Romanesque St. Francis. It is an odd blend of Spanish missionary style with a Greek dome. Sharp edges run along un-ornamented walls, which frame some colored glass at the center of this strange structure.

The church was locked, so Confession was held in a room just off a hallways running along the back of the daily Mass chapel. There was a sign on the wall immediately to the right after entering which read something like "We are Catholic Christians who believe that we become one family in Jesus together and we have a great commitment to Social Justice."

The daily Mass chapel was plain, but inoffensive. The statues beside the altar may date to a previous church. At the back of the chapel was a book where one could sign up for a part in a daily Mass. I noticed that a deacon had sign up for the "Bread" for the next several weeks. I photographed a blank page to safeguard the identities of any parishioners.

During Confession I was told to use the Sacrament less often (I wonder if the daily communicants are told the same thing?) and to "let the grace work within you." 

On the whole this parish just felt a bit odd, the sort of place where the finances and demographics uphold the official party line and renewal spirit that is dis-functioning everywhere else in the Roman Church. How long until time catches up to Texas?—or will the influx of immigration from the Spanish speaking Americas and from the rest of the USA give Texas a reprieve?

All most surreal....

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