Tuesday, September 15, 2009

History - with a chuckle.

Sunday, September 13 was the feast of St. John Chrysostom, the patron saint of our parish in Fresh Creek. So, after Mass on Sunday we had cake!

There is actually quite the connection between St. John Chrysostom and the Catholic Church in the Bahamas. St. John was known throughout the Church as an outstanding preacher. In fact, Chrysostom is not his last name, it means “Golden Mouth” in Greek and was a title given him for the quality of his preaching. He was born in Antioch (the city where followers of Jesus were first called ‘Christians’) about the year 349. After an extensive education he embraced an ascetic life and was ordained a priest, distinguishing himself by his preaching. He was elected bishop of Constantinople in 397 and proved himself a capable pastor. Twice he was forced into exile by the imperial court and the envy of his enemies. He died September 14, 407. His preaching and writing explained Catholic doctrine and presented the ideal Christian life.

Years later, a Benedictine priest who had taken Chrysostom as his religious name arrived in Nassau. Fr. Chrysostom Schreiner, OSB was the first priest permanently assigned to the Bahamas in 1893 and remained for 37 years. When a church was built in Fresh Creek Fr. Schreiner’s work was recognized in the naming of our church after his patron, St. John Chrysostom. Other Benedictine’s followed, including Fr. Gabriel Roerig OSB, who spent his entire priestly life serving the people of Andros. Arriving first at Behring Point he opened churhes from Behring Point all the way up north to Mastic Point during his ministry.

The church in Mastic Point was closed years ago and has been taken over by the bush, but is ironic that Catholics are moving back to Mastic Point and asking us to come up there and have services in the Elementary School. So this week we have a priest with us, Fr. Mel Taylor OSB. Fr. Mel is the last Benedictine in the Bahamas and was able to preach quite well about Fr. Chrysostom's life on Nassau and Fr. Gabriel's work on Andros.

After 3 masses we dropped Fr. Mel at the airport and Ginni and I headed off to Mastic Point. It had rained overnight and a bit more during the morning. The drainage on Andros is virtually nil since the whole island is nothing but rock and there is no sewer system for rainwater. Driving up north the road has pot holes and puddles so you really need to be careful.

As we headed out on the Queens Highway Ginni and I have our windows open to get the breeze and she begins to tie her kerchief over her hair to keep it in check in the wind. It was at that point that a car passed us coming towards us - and passed through a puddle right at that instant. This threw a wall of water onto the windshield (and a fine spray through Ginni's window). What made this comical was that it was at that moment she was tying the kerchief behind her head with her elbows pointing up in the air when the spray hit her and she let out a "Woooo!"

Now I thought the wall of water on the windshield was impressive, but not worth a "Woooo!" It was when I realized she'd also had cold water spayed onto her through the open window I understood what had happened. Laughing was probably not the best response at that time.

Well an hour later we arrive in Mastic Point and they were waiting for us. A few less than we expected but it turns out they had no power and the class rooms were stiffling. We ended up taking the chairs onto the lawn and we did the liturgy of the Word there. One of the children is well past 1st communion age so we had given that family some books. This was an opportunity for us to see what we learned so I asked a few questions, "What is original sin?" "What's the difference between a sin and an accident or mistake?" "What happens to the bread when the priest prays over it at Mass?" "Why do we need to go to a priest for confession?" It led to some discussion to help him understand more about Confession and the Mass. It turned out to be good info for some of the adults that listened in too - teachable moments.

We headed back to Fresh Creek and I would smile remembering Ginni's "Wooo!" and Ginni suggested that the next time we go to Mastic Point that she drive - especially if it rains.

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