Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Sense Of Proportion

I mentioned in my Las Vegas trip report that we had a hard time going to Mass Sunday morning because of the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon (and half marathon).  From the Rio, we effectively couldn't go north, south, east, or west without running into a street blocked for the race.  That foiled our plans to go to an 8 AM Mass, so we had breakfast at the Gold Coast, returned to the Rio and checked out, and then made another attempt at Mass, this time at the Strip's Guardian Angel Cathedral.

It took us nearly an hour and a half to get there; the only street we could get onto was Frank Sinatra Drive, which paralleled the Strip and I-15.  Problem was, everyone else in Vegas was there as well.  We found a parking lot where we thought we could park, but a man there was ensuring we couldn't do so.  Eventually, I dropped Sandy off about 10 minutes before Mass was to start.  Driving around the block again, I found the Strip was finally reopened where I could actually get to the cathedral parking lot.

Upon first appearance, I was unimpressed with the cathedral.  The mural behind the altar looked like something out of the Fantastic Four, and otherwise it's a rather un-ornate sanctuary, looking like a converted ski chalet.

But all that didn't matter once the homily started, given by a visiting priest.  He was a missionary, and he told us how in Central America his order was trying to get more children in their schools so they might have a chance at getting out of poverty.  They'd even feed the kids twice a day.

This was news to the poor villager parents who would put their kids to work for 12 hours a day, as soon as they were 8 years old, picking through garbage dumps for anything recyclable so they could make a couple dollars.  The priest mentioned one boy who found something that still looked edible . . . and had to fight off vultures for it.

Needless to say, we were rather generous with the collection for his mission.  And we appreciated the reality check and its accompanying sense of proportion.  We're getting stressed about Las Vegas traffic, and elsewhere, 8-year-old kids are picking through garbage.  And I didn't feel guilt like I did when my mom would tell us, "Millions of kids are starving in Africa!" when we didn't clean off our plates.

(Our smart-alecky response: "Name two.")