Site Visit – San Lazaro Roman Catholic Church

Raised in a non-religious household this was a challenging assignment for me because it’s difficult to get out of my comfort zone. Not that I’m a non-believer but my beliefs are completely different from the rest. I decided to visit San Lazaro Roman Catholic Church. This is a common practice in south Florida due to the overpopulation of Hispanics. My experience entering the church was nerve wreaking because I wasn’t sure what I was suppose to do. The environment was very welcoming as I was walking towards the door the priest was standing in the entrance greeting everyone. As I approached him he smiled, shook my hand and said “welcome”. I felt a little better about entering the church because the priest did make me feel welcomed it was a nice gesture of him to greet the churchgoers. Walking in I noticed the churchgoers crossing themselves as they entered and sat down, others touched a little silver plate hanging from the wall and crossing themselves with holy water. I was completely lost as what I needed to do so I emulated what others did, in respect to the church. As everyone settled the mass began. During the mass there was a lot of standing up and sitting down and singing. The reading of the day was Mark 8:27-35. My interpretation of this verse was that Jesus is not just a healer, he is above all the Christ, which was a good thing for the world. The readings were told in such a powerful way that intrigued me. I’ve learned that storytelling is the best way to get the message around. Towards the end there was a part of ceremony where everyone stood up to pray “Our Father (Lord’s Prayer)”. Once the prayer was finished everyone turned towards their neighbor and blessed each other along with hugs and handshakes. This was a very awkward moment for me because I went alone but everyone around me was nice enough to shake my hand. After this it was time to pass out the bread and wine. Most people lined up in front of the priest to eat the bread, I stayed and observed because I felt like it wasn’t my place to eat this holy bread and wine due to my beliefs. It was interesting to me how food has become a sacred symbol in this religion. The biggest symbol that stood out for me was the cross in the middle of the church with Jesus Christ crucified. The details in Jesus’s face in the sculpture made my heart sink a little because it was an almighty message that it sent out to the people about how Jesus sacrificed himself to save his people. Overall there were many things that took me by surprise. I would expect everyone to dress conservatively but there were a few who were dressed in laid back clothes. It seemed to me that no matter what you wear or who you are, what matters is if you had Christ in your heart.

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