My two eldest daughters and I took part in our first ever religious procession yesterday. Every year, the clergy, choir and lay ministers of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and two other downtown Santa Fe churches, Holy Faith Episcopal and First Presbyterian, process from their churches the few blocks to the Plaza for an interdenominational blessing of the palms, hymns sung by all three choirs together, and a procession around the Plaza before returning to their home churches for Palm Sunday services. Since my daughters are in the Cathedral children’s choir, we were part of the procession, and my eldest daughter is pictured on the front page of the Santa Fe New Mexican today. She’s the one in the brown coat just under the episcopal bishop’s arm. There’s no story, just a front page photo, so the link will only show her today, Monday, April 6.
Back at our little suburban church in California, we didn’t have processions. We didn’t have a world-class choir that has performed at Carnegie Hall either, who delivered a stunning performance of one movement of Handel’s Messiah during the Palm Sunday service yesterday (that’s the adult choir, not the children’s). And we didn’t have our very own archbishop, whom it’s been a long uphill battle to convince the girls isn’t the pope. Yesterday the archbishop and the rest of the clergy were out in all their scarlet Palm Sunday splendor, processing along with my girls and me through the ancient streets and plaza of the oldest Catholic parish west of the Mississippi. Tourists stood along the route snapping pictures, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether the crowd of onlookers included any secular humanists in search of their own rituals, a group about whom I wrote a few months ago. That post sparked so much controversy in comments that I wrote another about it, which also ignited a comment flame war.
I suppose there will be snide comments to this post about my “superstition” and all the dastardly deeds the Catholic Church has perpetrated upon humanity, but really, all I meant to do today was share with my readers a wonderful experience — both religious and cultural — that my daughters and I were blessed to share yesterday.