Sunday, November 11, 2012
Some years ago I visited a Roman Catholic parish in one of the poorest areas of Mexico City. Mass was being held outdoors, and I arrived as people were setting up plastic chairs and wooden benches in a circle around the brightly dressed altar. The Virgin of Guadalupe smiled her approval from a mural on the side of the church as a few stray dogs settled down to nap in the warm dust.
The liturgy followed a familiar pattern with songs, readings, a homily and the sharing of the peace. Then it was time for the offering. People got in line, many carrying what appeared to be small, plastic bags filled with a whitish substance. As the guitar band played, each person stepped forward and poured the contents of their bag into coffee cans placed on the altar. It was rice. Each person was pouring a small quantity of raw rice into cans that were soon filled to the brim. We prayed an offertory prayer and continued with the mass.
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