Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Guest Post – A Close Moment in India

The following was shared by our good friend Jim working in Mumbai, India this week. Thought we’d share with you. Altogether, I guess this makes Three Catholic Men and a Blog.

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!


  1. It truly is amazing that we worship as one voice all over the world. Just powerful.
    I read through all the drop down pages and love all of them. The last one "warning" grabbed my attention. I haven't read any frank Sheed but I've hadany poeple recommend him or reference him. And yes, how much time our culture spends on TV , movies, etc. Anything but exercising the intellect. If we ever loose digital media in this country , I give us about three days until total breakdown.
    Just curious and doesn't matter but are you guys cursillistas? The "closest moment" term sounds real familiar. Thanks for the good content and good work.
    God Bless

    1. Hi Chris,
      Ultreya! Yes, Joe and I (and Jim) are cursillistas. Part of the origin of this blog is from emails we would send out to our men’s cursillo group. Joe said to me, “You should start a blog”. I said to Joe, “No, you should start a blog” and then I said “let’s both start a blog” and then I asked, “What’s a blog???” The rest is history.

      As far as exercising the intellect, I also think today’s generation is getting good at “surfing” many different things quickly, but not good at digging deep into one topic or one problem. That’s not good for Catholicism that takes deep thinking to understand.

      A lot of stuff here is influenced by Frank Sheed. I would say to any Catholic, “YOU NEED SOME SHEED”. Take care and thanks for your comment.

  2. Hello Ben,

    thank you for this wonderful post of your visit to a Church in Mumbai. I live in North East India [A Salesian of Don Bosco].

    Very nice to note of that 'Catholic' aspect of the Church throughout the globe.

    Thank you also for all the intellectual blogging that you do here, may God bless your work.
    Let me wish you the blessings of our dear Mother Mary as we celebrate today her feast: "Mary, Help of Christians". A great feast, and I am sure she takes your work to great heights only to bear abundant fruit for her SON.

    Thank you and all the best, welcome to North East India.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind comments! Just for clarification, it was our friend Jim that wrote the post. He goes to India from time to time for business and attended Mass there last Sunday.

  4. Ben, perhaps you would at some point post something about cursillo. I hear it all the time and read about it, but never actually knew someone who experienced it. Think about it. Perhaps others may be interested.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Bobby,
      Cursillo refers to a short course or study in Christianity, so it’s really all about “the simple things” Christians forget or don’t realize. I actually see this whole blog as a bunch of short discussions about “the simple things”. But you are absolutely right. We should do a post or even a series of posts.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I really appreciate all the time and effort that you have put in.