Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Missionary Adventures in Texas and Mexico

I have been reading an ebook: "Missionary Adventures in Texas and Mexico" By Emmanuel Domenech. Written in the 1850's it is by a Catholic Missionary serving in the Texas Frontier. This book is special to me, because this man was almost certainly known by my Great-Great Grandfather. This passage is one of my favorites.

The tender piety of our people, the poverty of our little church, the simplicity of our ceremonies, frequently touched my heart ; and many a time, while I held in my hands our only ostensory of plain wood, which contained the most sacred Host, tears of joy fell from my eyes. Ah ! in the noble cathedrals of France, how full of splendour is religion in the external pomp of her ceremonial. Gold and silver, and thousands of lights, dazzle the eye, and speak to the imagination ; here, on the contrary, everything speaks to the heart, and transports it burning with love to the throne of God. Every Sunday, at ten o'clock, was celebrated the adorable sacrifice of the mass. The music was very good. We had organised a choir, which succeeded beyond our expectation. At three o'clock the faithful, assembled to say the rosary. This exercise was followed by vespers and the benediction of the most Blessed Sacrament. The paschal solemnity of 1849 was truly consoling to us. All the Catholics of Castroville, with very few exceptions, approached the holy table. I had resolved that our little chapel should be decked out and wear quite a festive air for this solemnity, so I commenced its decoration the previous evening, and borrowed all the shawls and pieces of finery, and candlesticks, to be found in Castroville, even procured two small doors to construct lateral altars. The muslin curtains and shawls served as tapestry. I turned wooden vases in a lathe, and gilded them. In these I placed flowers of every hue and size, which I had gathered in the woods and open country. All this magnificence filled the colonists with astonishment. Next day the Catholics of the town, and of the surrounding country, assisted at the celebration of the Divine Mysteries, with feelings of profound reverence, on bended knees, bareheaded, and regardless of the burning sun, which darted its rays upon them. Poor isolated congregation !

How lively, sincere, touching, was this piety on that day ! The Almighty must have looked down with complacency on the little corner of earth where thou offered up thy prayers ! How favourably did thy piety contrast with the wavering, lukewarm piety of the city population of Europe ! In deserts and solitude, the blessings of religion are so much the more fully appreciated, as they are rarely accorded. Human institutions, for the protection of life and property, either do not exist, or are, at best, very inefficient. Man seems placed more immediately under the immediate protection of his Creator, and hence it comes that he raises his eyes and heart unto Him with greater facility and truth.

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