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  • By Flor Santamaría

The Rose in The Desert

ItsB Saturday night and I receive a message through a friend:

-there will be celebrated an outdoors mass tomorrow in the frontyard of the convent-home of Sta. Catherina. Pure gold, I thought.

In a close parish there was also a mass a bit later, also outdoors, but when I knew about this at the nun´s, naturally, I planned to attend, despite it was early (for me). I passed the message forward to some people and went to bed.

Sunday morning arrived and I was very excited, after many weeks, I was going to be able to participate present in the mass. An outdoors mass, what to wear on a cold, gray Norwegian morning? Wool! The weather forecast predicted possibility of rain, although I forgot my umbrella because yes, I am an optimist.

On my way to the cloister, I was thinking about how, during this extraordinary year, the sisters haven’t been able to celebrate any of their usual social gatherings. But today, I thought, God allowed a most meaningful celebration. A celebration of worshiping. The feast of a Sunday mass. Open, freely, necessary, for us, the faithful, who, in this difficult time of uncertain, are craving and crawling, thirsty, in the cold desert of the city, for the body and blood of Christ, as water and nourishment to cope with whatever has been, is, and will be.

The nuns are brave. I muttered my thoughts while driving through wet and empty roads, while turning the round abouts in my way to the mass.

- But they are doing what´s necessary in desperate times- I continued. As sta. Catherine of Siena would have said, they are indeed … “Turning over the rudder in God's name and sailing with the wind heaven is sending them.” And us, the people on board of the boat, praising God for his kindliness. They are brave indeed. And of course, I laughed a little about society, those who think nuns are weak woman. But that is something else! Anyway, I arrived few minutes before. I was looking for a parking spot. Then I entered the street saying, Flor, you won´t find a place to park in that narrow street, but I continued and indeed I didn’t, but at the time I spotted one of the sisters, I said hello through the window, but that pushy Flor inside me pinched me to ask her if I could park inside, and before I could flush of embarrassment, I was asking and I got allowed to park there.

I felt triumphant because I followed that little tiny voice of trust, that will allow me to reach what seemed impossible. Yeah, a parking spot. For those who drive, can be mission impossible on a sunday outside church! You know what I mean.

The sisters were coordinating when I arrived. Arranging and caring for the final details that, in the lovely austerity, and simplicity of human ornaments so the ceremony could be correctly done. With the adorning beauty of nature, branches and a green plain under our feet and of course the smiles of everyone approaching to the compound.

The priest looked serene and comforting. He is young but has the authority and presence that some sort of peaceful big tree would inspire. He is a Franciscan priest, so maybe it´s from there, his brown habit, where my tree association comes from.

Some of the attendees were from around, some others came from afar. People greeting each other with visible joy, people standing there, waiting to meet Our Lord. I brought a small stool, so I didn’t have to be standing all the time, but there were some chairs that people didn’t take, or were too filled with excitement that wouldn’t notice them.

After all, who cares to stand there for half an hour or forty minutes, when we are given the amazing possibility to embrace Our Redeemer.

I always feel some sort of warming sensation when I see a priest attending mass. Like one of us, sinful and repenting, worn and tired, beaten human in need for the father´s caress. Another child of God, and there he was, a priest too, receiving the blessing in this side of the street. He was standing few meters away but, I felt our synchronized responding to the mass dialogue.

The same as I tuned with other voices, responding in one choir “I confess”, “Kyrie Eleison”, “I believe”, “Agnus Dei”, “Our father” and “a word from thy will suffice to save me”. We were like those birds singing “Hallelujah” while flying and jumping around us, the congregation.

A dog barking, children running, in that outdoors piece of land, facing the Rosa house, the same typical noises of inside the temple in a regular Sunday mass. The sounds of the hope, and the confirmation of peace. A peace only genuinely received when the Almighty has given it.

The porch of the “Rosa” House, a multipurpose venue named after sta. Rosa of Lima, (a Dominican tertiary originally from Perú, who lived in the 1600 hundred´s), was for an hour, a chapel. Someone said, “I feel like if we were the first Christians”. Maybe it was this way, said another. And I think, yes, maybe we are called to be again as faithful as those first Christians.

After the mass was over, the sisters offered us coffee and tea, we even mingled for a while with good distance, of course. Without breaking any rule stablished by the State, we were smiling, and praising Our Lord Jesus Christ, in gratitude. In friendship with God and with each other. Strengthened and renewed for we continue through the desert of life. With a glimpse of light kindling inside



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