I stood at 701 California Ave in Santa Monica opposite the shopping centre, and it was 9 o’clock on the Sunday morning. I noticed instantly that many cars ran into a well-built house, and more people ran to it. I began to track them in order to see where they were headed. On the gate, St. Monica Catholic Church wrote enormous writings (“”St Monica Catholic Community””). Due to my inquisitive nature and because I never walked into a Catholic Church, I wanted to worship them. Some parts of the floor were carpeted while the other parts were made with a polished quality wood. On the left side of the church, there were burning candle lights. I looked at them closely and saw that there was an estimate of around 200 candles burning concurrently. I also noticed the hymn books placed on the book rack of the pew in front of everyone.
Staring up, I saw a section beautifully decorated with flowers of different varieties. In the center, there was a big table. Immediately behind the table there was a huge cross. Looking closer to the cross, I realized that there was a half-naked man and thorn-like decoration around his head sculptured on the cross. A young lady then walked around the table and spread a white cloth to cover it. Later on, she moved towards the microphone placed on the platform to confirm that it was functional. At this moment, the church was almost full with most seats taken by the congregation. A group of youthful individuals was busy handling musical pieces of equipment placed on the left side of the church on the first row as if they were getting ready for a big show. I was brought up in a Presbyterian Church by my parents; however, we never really attended the services except during important dates and events like weddings, Christmas, and of course my baptism. What I remember is that the people in this Catholic Church were just as punctual as the Presbyterians are.
At exactly 9:30 am, a young man from the musical group went over the microphone place on the platform and said, “The mass is about to commence. Please mute or turn off your phones as a respect to God.” He later urged everyone to stand up and turn to their hymnal books. He moved towards his musical group and then they started singing as the congregation joined them. Immediately, I saw three boys’ dressed in pure white robes entering the church. Two of them were carrying candles while the other one was carrying a huge cross. Then a young maiden walked behind them while holding a book with her two hands over her head. She was followed by a middle-aged man dressed in a purple garment, which almost resembled a graduation gown.
They walked towards the decorated place as the congregation continued to sing. The maiden placed the book on the table as the boys were bowing and moving away. The man in the purple gown moved closer to the table and gave it a kiss. He then moved some few steps back from the table towards the left side and then the ongoing music came to an end. He spoke in a fair tone by greeting people then went back to sit on his chair at the platform.
Three people walked up to the platform bowed as they lined up next to the microphone. One of them from the left side went towards the receiver and read. As soon as she finished, she was followed by her counterpart in the middle who sang a song while urging the congregation to join him. A second reading was later on taken by their counterpart on the right side. At the end of the reading, everyone started singing again. As the song came to an end, the man in purple headed towards the table where the book was placed, bowed again, and picked up the book. He raised it above his head and made an angle, which I believe is ninety degrees then stopped. He went ahead and made another one hundred and eighty degrees turn to the right side and moved to the platform and read. After finishing reading the book, he placed it on the platform and started preaching. Among the things that I remember him talk about was selfishness. He condemned the act and urged people to always love and give without expecting something in return just like Jesus died for us. He encouraged the congregation that Christ will welcome them in His kingdom only if they have a pure heart and follow the good Christian virtues. He also talked about forgiveness as the key to being a true Christian. After finishing preaching, he said some few words from a book brought to him by one of the white robbed boys and then went back to his seat. The lady who carried the book at the beginning of the service then came up again and said some few words that were repeated by the worshippers. The preacher then stood up and said something again, which made everybody to sit down.
The vocal choir led by a young man, who seemed like their choir leader urged the congregation to turn to the hymnal book and join them in singing. The song was about the spirit of giving to the Church and the needy as a sign of blessing. As people continued to sing, a group of around ten people with blue clothing’s started moving in different directions of the Church with a hand curved wood, which resembled a big bowl. As the curved wood moved from one person to another, I saw people placing their money and envelopes inside them. On the other hand, I saw the three young boys in the company of another young man who seemed like an aide to the preacher, the priest himself were busy preparing the table. I saw them with a golden cup, a golden plate filled with some white things, and wine. As soon as the other people finished collecting money from everyone in the church, they gathered back to the entrance of the church. Later on, they started marching towards the platform as the congregation continued to sing and handed the collections in the big bowl to the preacher who blessed the offerings. The preacher then handed the proceeds to the three young boys and after reading some words urged everyone to offer their neighbors in the church a sign of peace before going back to his seat.
As soon as the song ended, the preacher went back to the table and started conversing with the boys. Later on, he started reciting the Lord’s Prayer as the congregation stood up to join him in the recital. As soon as he finished, people sat down again. At one point, I saw him washing his hands and taking the wine from the golden cup. Later on, the musical group stood up and started singing a song that spoke of the blessings we receive while partaking the Holy Communion. The congregation the stood up as they moved one by one to the platform to join the preacher at the table. He gave them the white things while in line and small cups of filled with wine, which every one of them drank.
As soon as everyone had finished partaking the Lord’s Supper and went back to their seats while remain standing, the musical group ended the song and also moved to the table to take the wine and the white things. The preacher then went back to the platform, read some few words from the book whereby everybody echoed and hence sat down. The lady who handled the book then came up to the left side of the platform and made some few announcements regarding that week’s church activities, and two upcoming weddings then went back to her seat. The man in purple stood up again and then commanded the congregation to go in peace. Everyone stood up as they joined the musical group in singing the service last song, which was about giving thanks to the Mother of Jesus, Mary. The preacher together with the three young boys and the lady were the ones who left the church first. The congregation later followed them one by one while singing. As people were moving out of the church, I saw some using the water placed in bowls on the left and right side of the entrance to draw a cross from their heads to chest and shoulders. At the back of the Church, the preacher was greeting everyone who came up to him.
“St Monica Catholic Community.” Stmonica.Net, 2017, http://stmonica.net/. Accessed 24 March 2017