My Cape Cod life

Wednesday 15 July 2015 — Nantucket Sound — Night of the New Moon

The statistics are in. Independence Day here in Falmouth broke all records. Father Raymond and I were, between the two of us, able to provide Mass for some 2,000 worshipers. At the end of the day, we were both tired, but with a Spiritual satisfaction. So many faithful Catholics! We had only done what we were ordained to do, but it was a very good feeling indeed. 

The opening Mass of the season at our little chapel by the sea was vibrant and joyful. “Little” is the appropriate word. St. Thomas Chapel has a capacity of only about 200 people. We opened all the windows and pinned back the doors because there were an additional 200 worshipers standing on the lawn. Young families with children were everywhere. 

This year, our contemporary music group was assigned to Masses at the chapel for the first time. We suspected that the style of music would fit the age of the worshipers and the ambiance of the place. It did. The chapel “rocked,” as the young people say these days. The assembly sang with gusto. A joyful sound spread throughout the neighborhood cottages and echoed across the Sunday morning stillness of the harbor. Even people out on the boats were well-aware that the Catholics of Falmouth Heights had gathered for worship.

One well-dressed woman, a visitor, approached me after Mass and remarked, “Father, this was the most Spiritually uplifting Mass I have experienced since my wedding day!” As she reached out and shook my hand, she slipped me a wad of paper. It was a hundred dollar bill. It’s not often one hears such a compliment on the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time and it’s even rarer to be slipped a hundred dollar bill. I deposited the money in the parish fund to repair the leaking chapel roof. The work should be completed by the time you read this, dear readers, because of the generosity of many such people.

Speaking of generosity, this year a parishioner donated several cases of a book to be distributed free-of-charge to all interested worshipers (including parishioners and guests) as they left Mass. It was intended to be summer reading. The name of the book is “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” by Matthew Kelly. The complimentary books went like the proverbial hotcakes. The participation in dynamic Liturgy, accompanied by a hardcopy “take-home” was our parish’s modest contribution to the ongoing effort called the New Evangelization. Our outreach was timed purposely for the Fourth of July weekend. 

There is usually a bad side to any good news. On Cape Cod, it’s traffic. At Falmouth Heights, its pedestrian traffic, but most of the pedestrians drove here in their cars. They had crossed the canal on one of two bridges. 

There was persistently heavy traffic onto the Cape from Thursday through Saturday morning. Sunday afternoon, the tide changed (as it always does) and people started heading off-Cape. We were all delighted to hear that traffic at the Sagamore Bridge was gridlocked for only 12 miles this year. Two years ago, the bridge traffic was at a standstill for 25 miles. I suspect more people decided to stay a bit longer on the Cape this year. The weather was perfect. Whatever the reason, a 12-mile backup is a considerable improvement. The record has been broken — but by decrease, not increase.

During the winter, the sun seems to be in a hurry to get daylight over with and to bring on the darkness. In the summer, however, the sun lingers in its setting. When I have an opportunity, I like to watch the summer sunset from the eastern-most shore of Falmouth Harbor, across the decks of boats anchored there for the night to Nantucket Sound beyond. For some reason, the colors of sunset have been spectacular lately. On my right, I see the lights and hear the pleasant sounds of a harbor-side restaurant.

A lifetime ago, as fate would have it, it was to that very restaurant that I brought my date to impress her with a fancy after-theater dinner. First, we saw a production by the Oberlin College Players of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado.” Afterwards, I ordered grilled swordfish steak for dinner — the first swordfish I had ever eaten in my life. I wanted to appear urbane. It tasted horrible. This was due to the simple fact that I was eating the skin. I told you I never had swordfish before. I was a senior in high school at the time. It was very difficult to act the part of the sophisticate with such a bitter fishy taste in one’s mouth, but I gave it my best shot.

To my left is the chapel I now pastor. I can see the stunning stained glass window of Christ calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. It’s backlighted so that it shines out over Falmouth Harbor at night. 

And so ends another day in my Cape Cod life. 

Anchor columnist Father Tim Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.

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