Dec 19, 2008

Mosteiro de São Bento de São Paulo

When I went to Brazil over Thanksgiving week, I was a little worried about what I would do for Mass, since I would be in São Paulo on Sunday. In my typical geek fashion, I though I'd just look up a parish near the hotel and go there.

Luckily for me, one of the other international speakers at the conference, Chris, and his wife Bernadine, had plans to go to Mosteiro de São Bento de São Paulo on Sunday morning. Bernadine said she had been raised Catholic but was not a practicing Catholic; they were going because they had heard the opening hymnals are quite a spectacle.

They were so right. I wish I had the courage to snap a photo or two, because the whole experience of sights, sounds, and smells felt overwhelmingly sacred. I don't understand any Portuguese (except enough to ask for the bathroom, etc.), but there was no denying the sincerity and passion of the Monks' praise and worship offerings to God.

This video does hardly any justice at all - in fact, I think it may be a different São Bento Monastery/Church than the one in São Paulo. But at least it represents the style of the sanctuary and of the music, though the quality is not good. :(

The experience really nailed home a virtue I've known of the Catholic Mass, but had never experienced before ...

I don't understand Portuguese, but I could follow the Mass and participate in it. I spoke the prayers in English while the rest of the congregation spoke them in Portuguese. The Sign of Peace cut straight thru our cultural and language barriers. And while I'm still not completely fluent in Mass even at home, this experience really helped to further personalize it all for me.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

While in Paris in 2001, I went to the Sacre Couer basilica, and was overwhelmed. A choir was singing somewhere in the distance, and organs were blaring. The stained glass and peace made me tear up instantly.