Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back from camp

As some of you may know I spent the last week camping at Boy Scout camp. I learned a lot of things there, and got some great stories which I will hopefully get to blog about. But what I wanted to talk about today was something that happened on the first evening, last Sunday.

There is a family of Lone Scouts who camp at the same time we do and join us for various events. They get camaraderie, pizza and ice cream from us, but we get the best of the deal. You see, there is a small open air Catholic chapel out in the woods on camp grounds. The Lone Scout patrol hikes to it, with two suitcases carrying the equipment (lectionary, candles, etc.) and matter to say mass. Following them is a priest, who says mass for us in the chapel.

The priest, who is Hungarian, is a very interesting and reverent fellow. While he prepares for mass he explains what he is doing and quizzes the kids on the Sacraments and other aspects of the faith. Not as if he's testing them, but matter of factly. He weaves it into stories.

Last Sunday he spoke about the origins of the word "Sunday." In languages descended from Latin, he told us, the word comes from the Latin "Dies Domini" or "Lord's Day." Hence "Domingo" in Spanish or "Domenica" in Italian. However, in Russian, the word is "воскресенье" which means "Resurrection." He told us when the communists took over, all words relating to Christianity were banned from speech. Yet, the Russians had to say "Resurrection" every time they spoke of Sunday, which left a bad taste in their mouths.

After this conversation one of the simplest, yet most beautiful masses I have attended began. The weather was hot and muggy, and we were all in our dress uniforms, sitting on logs and kneeling on the dead leaves and sticks of the forest floor, but nobody noticed. As the Eucharistic prayer began, a cool breeze blew through and it became quiet and comfortable. And at the elevation, the clouds parted and the setting sun shown down behind the altar.

I'm not claiming this was a mystical experience, but it was a beautiful peaceful moment, which stayed with me the rest of the week. God is good.


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