Today was the patron saint festival in the nearby town of Alegría. It was a 20 minute bus ride to get to Alegría from Berlín. Along the way I asked the ladies who the patron saint of Alegría was. They told me it was San Miguel Archángel (Saint Michael the Archangel). I will now shamefully admit that I knew didn’t know a lot about Saint Michael until I looked up more info on the internet:
In Hebrew his name means “who is like God?” Saint Michael is an archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic tradition. He is the guardian of the Catholic Church and protector of the Jewish people. He is viewed as the commander of the Army of God. Saint Michael is mentioned by name in the Book of Daniel, the Book of Jude, and in the Book of Revelation, in which he leads God’s armies against the Devil’s forces during his uprising.
Following Scriptural passages, Christian tradition gives to St. Michael four offices: 1) To fight against Satan; 2) To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death; 3) To be the champion of God’s people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament. Therefore he was the patron of the Church, and of the orders of knights during the Middle Ages; 4) To call away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment.
Saint Michael the Archangel
When we arrived in Alegría we quickly walked over to the church. As we went inside we could see that it was packed with standing room only. We found a place to stand over by the wall. In the main aisle down the center of the church I could see that there was some kind of grass on the ground. I went over to check it out. As I was looking down the aisle a priest walked over to me to ask where I was from. I told him that I lived in Berlín and was from the United States.
So for the next 15 minutes we chatted about religion, teaching English, the Salvadoran culture, and food. I really enjoyed talking to him and was surprised he spent so much time talking to me. I felt very honored. Soon it was time for the mass to start. He asked me to hold his stole while he put on some of his vestments. Before I went back to join the Pastoral Team I asked why the grass was on the floor down the center aisle. He smiled and told me it was just decoration. Then he said, “Es psicológico” (It’s psychological). I laughed. That was the last thing I expected to hear from a priest.
I walked back to where Blanca, Cecilia, and Balmore were standing as the mass started. The bishop from Santiago de Maria was saying mass. I’ve heard him before and he’s often kind of funny during parts of the homily. He was today as well, but today the homily was close to an hour long. I’m not sure I’ve ever listened to that long of a homily before. My legs were definitely getting tired from standing but the mass was still enjoyable. I especially liked the music during the mass. I recognized several of the songs and was able to sing along.
When the mass was over we didn’t stay too long in Alegría. It had started to rain. I got some french fries and water while we waited for the bus. We browsed through a couple shops at the bus stop area. And when the bus arrived we hopped on and headed back for Berlín. I realize that many times I end my blog with something like, “It was a good day” or “It was a good experience.” I guess I think that anytime I come away from an event and have learned something new, I consider it a good thing and a good day. So today was another good day.
Mass about to start
Standing at the back
The place was packed
*I should point out here that the ladies told me it was okay to take this quick picture so long as I didn't use a flash.
The church in Alegria in May
The inside of the church
The front of the church
The side chapel in the church