It was an experience of piety and a close moment with God. I attended Mass at Holy Family Church in Mumbai, India last Sunday evening. I had no customer visits that day, so after some much needed sleep and working in the hotel it was time to challenge myself. It is no challenge to attend Mass on a "home" Sunday, but being 9000 miles away in a completely different culture, it’s more of an effort.
I had to leave the comfort and security of the hotel compound and walk the half mile down the busy city streets to get to the church. The adventure is not the concern of safety, but it is being the minority and knowing it. The streets are filled with thousands of people and loads of cars, rickshaws and a few dozen stray dogs. Mass was filled that night with some 500 people and I was the only non-Indian that was walking the streets and at Mass (I am not exaggerating the word “only”) and I defiantly stand out in a crowd here.
The close moment was when I entered the church. I was home (God's home); I was comfortable; I was accepted (by God and the people at Mass). When Mass started, the opening hymn was a beautiful song that I had never heard in the comfort of my home parish in the Chicago area. The singing was loud and faith-filled. The mother next to me noticed my silence and kindly leaned over with her open song book and used her finger to help me follow along until I caught on (just like we do with the kids). It was a close moment. I felt the kindness of God.
The only two differences in Mass were first, at the time of sharing the sign of peace instead of everyone shaking hands and saying peace, everyone turned to each other and bowed with hands in prayer position near their face, like when greeting someone with "Namaste", but saying the word peace instead of Namaste. Namaste is a common greeting originating from the Hindu and Buddhist faiths (a mix of the three religions/cultures). The second difference was that there is NO comfort of AC at this church. It had to be near 110°F. No one was complaining, but I was concerned I was going to pass out like a catholic school child at a Wednesday morning Mass after not eating breakfast. God gave me the strength I prayed for, and I will never complain about the temperature at my home parish again.
Everything else about the Mass, structure, reading and prayers were the same – exactly the same. I guess this is an example of why the definition or meaning of the word "Catholic" is "Universal".
P.S. - God is Good!