This last Wednesday I attended a Catholic mass at the Cathedral of Ponce. Although I have visited a lot of Catholic churches and cathedrals over the past few years, this was my first opportunity to actually participate in a meeting.
The meeting itself was much different than I had imagined it would be. We stood up a lot and there was a lot of reading, reciting, and songs sung by memory. There were even a few similarities with the church meetings that I regularly attend. But the thing that caught my attention most was the amount of people that were in attendance. The chapel was not completely full, but there were at least 150 people at the 12:05 mass.
I knew that the people in that room wanted to be there and show their love to their Lord, Jesus Christ. The elderly men and women knelt down and plead for forgiveness. The young children accompanied their parents to partake of the body of Christ.
After the meeting we made an effort to meet one of the administrators of the meeting. We learned that his name was Jaime Baez and he was 78 years-old. We told him that it was out first time attending at this chapel and that we had a couple of questions for him if he had the time. He was very welcoming to the idea and continued to tell us how he got to be to where he is.
Since he was a young boy he wanted to serve in the Catholic Church. When he got of age he went to study for two years to be a clergyman, but was forced to drop out due to “things that happened in life.” He was later married and worked in another field. A few years ago his wife passed away and he was appointed to the office of deacon in the area. He now participates in mass three times a day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. He has been a faithful Catholic all of his life and plans on dedicating the time he has left to the Lord.
It was a true pleasure to meet Jaime Baez.
Attending Catholic mass helped me take a step back. I was able to listen, observe, learn, and ultimately love the people of Latin America even more.
I feel so blessed to be in this beautiful and culturally diverse country. Reading the history of Puerto Rico has been enlightening, but experiencing it has been even better.