My friend Christie has evidently decided I have too much free time, for today she took me to her Vounteers for Life board meeting. VFL appears to consist of three nuns and however many volunteers they currently have, all living in an apartment building, sharing meals and morning and evening prayer in community and spending their days working for various pro-life causes, like crisis pregnancy centers. They're looking for another board member, someone young and web-saavy who can figure out how best to promote the organization to other web-saavy Catholic women who might be thinking of dedicating a year to full-time volunteer service (the volunteers get room, board, and health insurance, but very little money). Theoretically the new board member could be me; I don't know about that but anyway it was most interesting to be there. The board does wonderful work and they were great to meet (the fun part of volunteering is working with other volunteers.) Sister Paula was in charge and stuffed us with breakfast foods while we talked about finances and potential volunteers and the fact that the huge Archdiocese of LA has no official program to teach NFP in the parishes and maybe we could get one started up if we could find $15,000 a year for a full time volunteer....
But my favorite part was before the board meeting, when a former Navy chaplain said Mass for the four of us who arrived early. We had it in the living room of one of the apartments, which was set up as a chapel (the kitchen was the sacristy). One of the year-long volunteers lives in that apartment; imagine having a chapel in your living room with a tabernacle and all! I really liked our itty-bitty Mass. It was both thrilling and consoling to think that it had the same essential character as a Mass in a big cathedral-- the greatest prayer of all, in union with the whole Church, Christ's sacrifice made present to God, and his Body given to us. Amazing.
(Actually, "thrilling and consoling" also describes my feelings about the entire Catholic Church pretty well. Home sweet home and a great adventure at the same time.)
One detail I didn't think much of: the vestments provided for the priest, which were of plain unbleached cotton with a red cross crocheted on the front. I mean... homespun cotton! Crochet! Enter that thing into the Ugliest Vestment Contest (winners here)! The four members of the congregation were more formally attired than the poor unsuspecting priest was. But I'll stop complaining, for it was still a great experience.
Sister Paula's been in the pro-life movement since the 60's, so I asked her if things are getting any better. Yes, she said-- in the early days abortion was seen as a great and obvious good for women, and apparently there wasn't much thought given to the harm it would do. Now people are more aware of how it can hurt women, and thanks to ultrasound they're much more aware of how it dismembers very human-looking little babies. She said some leaders of the pro-choice side even published an editorial recently saying "We've lost the moral high ground in the public's view. We've got to get it back!"