BlathrWayne Lorentz

Wafers for lunch

Saturday, January 4th, 2020 Alive 17,784 days

Guardian Angel Cathedral dwarfed by the Encore casino

One of the things I miss about not working in the office anymore is that I canʼt squeeze in a quick lunchtime mass anymore.

I sometimes used to go to the noon mass at Guardian Angel Cathedral, but it wasnʼt exactly a contemplative atmosphere. Standing room only, and half of it tourists. Thereʼs a special Catholic church just for the tourists, paid for by the casinos, but the tourists still end up at Guardian Angel. I guess being a cathedral, itʼs got more gravity.

I see stories in the media all the time saying that church is dying, but I canʼt help but think this is just a cliché, and not based on facts. Yes, churches in Chicago are closing all the time, but thatʼs because of bad decisions made by the archdiocese in the early 1900ʼs.

Because the various immigrant groups in Chicago couldnʼt get along, instead of having a church for each neighborhood, each neighborhood was given several churches — one for each ethnicity/nationality/community. So, Bridgeport, for example, had a bunch of Catholic churches: one for Germans, one for Poles, one for Lithuanians, one for Irish. But now that everyone gets along, all those churches arenʼt needed, so theyʼre constantly consolidating. The church I went to in Chicago (Assumption) was an Italian church, formed because Italians in that area of town werenʼt welcome at what is now Old Saint Patrickʼs Church.

Here in Las Vegas, and most of the southwest, there simply arenʼt enough Catholic churches for the number of people who want to use them. I go to Saint Elizabeth either for the 4pm Saturday, or the 6am on Sunday, and both times it is absolutely packed. This is a church with a capacity of at least 750, which to me seems pretty big. Iʼve heard from a person I know in Ohio who says itʼs the same situation there.

There are Roman Catholic congregations here that meet in the lyceum of the Lutheran high school down the street, for lack of space. We had a similar situation in Seattle, where the noon mass at the cathedral was so packed that there was another Catholic mass down the street at the Unitarian church.

I feel bad for the people who live in small towns around here. Amargosa Valley and Pioche are 250 miles apart, and have to share a priest, so they only get a single mass every other week. Other towns only get mass once a month. Because of this, we have special dispensation from the Archdiocese of San Francisco to watch mass on TV. The church I go to records a mass on Thursdays that is broadcast state-wide Sunday morning. Thereʼs no communion, naturally, but it still counts somehow.

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