Friday, August 27, 2010

Mass With Ganza

Before mass at Aimable's with Immaculee, Ryan Aimable and Souda. Below are Nikki, Tim and Souda.

From there we went to mass at Immaculee’s cousin Ganza’s church. He is a quiet man with a hearty laugh. Ganza is a Jesuit priest. There is such power in his presence. Remember connecting to the Jewish traditions and practices at Emily’s Bat Mitzvah? This was like that for me only multiplied many times. We sort of prepared for the mass by sharing informally about our experiences here. I practiced reading some scripture I was to share in mass. Portia practiced the second reading. There is a retreat center at this church and we hung out in sort of a large living room before the service. On the wall was a picture showing three priests who were killed here during the genocide. I wish I knew their stories.

The mass itself was in a small room. Chairs around a table (the altar) in a semi-circle. We practiced a few songs before mass. Most in English. Ganza wanted to say his first mass in English for us. It was hushed, solemn. We could hear the city sounds through the open windows. It was just our little group with another priest and a “priest to be” in attendance. The mass itself was very much like what I remember from all those years ago when I went to Catholic church. Lots of memorized prayers and responses including the Apostle’s Creed and the Our Father. Even though it has been a very long time since I have been to mass, the responses and prayers came forth automatically. There were long times when Ganza spoke directly to us. His message was love and forgiveness, strength that comes through mercy. Many of his prayers were spontaneous. He thanked us over and over for coming to Rwanda. He asked us to tell the world about what we see here. He said we were brave for coming. I didn’t feel brave. When I thought of all of the pain these beautiful people have gone through and their willingness to reconcile… That is bravery (video - Rwanda, No Bravery). Stepping out of my little comfort zone to come to stay with these wonderful people does not seem brave when I consider Rwandans.

With Ganza after Mass. A wonderful man in brave times.

Ganza prayed for the Tutsi and the Hutu. He prayed for people in conflicts all over Africa. His prayers spun out in an ever widening circle until it encompassed the world. I wish so much that I could have recorded the sermon, the whole service really because I can’t remember the exact words. Prayers for thanksgiving. Prayers that we might be the best people we can be and use our goodness to make the world a better place. Prayers of hope. Prayers of love.


Chris Hass said...

I would be uncomfortable, too, being called brave by someone who had lived through the horrors of the Rwandan genocide. Especially being an American. There's a certain discomfort visiting these places as an American. In our experiences in poor countries, people have treated us almost as royalty for no other reason than the fact that we're from the US and, from their perspective, immensely rich. They are, of course, right. Perhaps that's part of the guilt.

Our trip to Guatemala rarely took us outside the more touristy parts of the country. But our Ethiopian trip couldn't help but present us with the realities of living in such a poor country. Every road was lined with people drinking from puddles, hobbling on one leg, or lying on the concrete. It infuriates me when people avoid seeing the realities of the world (documentaries, news stories, and such) because it makes them uncomfortable. That seems like one of the worst crimes - not wanting someone else's problems to interfere with the safety and comfort of your own life. Still, I can understand where it comes from. It is hard to see.

Kelly said...

I've been AWOL on the whole blogging thing lately, so I'm trying to catch up on all of them so I haven't read all of the posts yet, just a quick skim-over before I come back to leave comments, but I did see the Shel Silverstein poem; one of my FAVORITES!! My other two are 'The Old Man and the Little Boy,' 'Needles and Pins,' and 'The Search.' Okay, I'm going back to read the rest now, just had to say that while I was thinking of it.....

Kelly said...

and I just realized I said 'two' and put three...obviously math is not my forte...good thing I like to read instead, eh?