Monday, April 28, 2014

Las Vegas: A view from behind the Altar.

This past weekend, I was honored to preside at a wedding for a friend of mine who was married at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Las Vegas. Even though we live (including the bride and groom) 4 hours away from Vegas, they had the wedding there; mostly because of centrality of other family and the fact that they like to go to Vegas.

The wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch (well, except that I had to remind the first reader it was time for her to go and proclaim the first reading), and we all had a most wonderful. Time and for me personally, a wonderful experience. This was my second wedding since my ordination, but my first one out of my Diocese (which I needed a letter from the Diocese to St. Joan of Arc letting them know that I am indeed a validly ordained deacon and have full faculties) and it was my first bilingual wedding, although most of it was in Spanish (the wedding rite itself and the Communion Service).

Martha and I drove around the town before and after the wedding, to see the sights. I took her to the Stratosphere, which has the thrill rides on top of the building 1000 feet above the Strip, and actually go OVER the side of the building! You can even "jump" from the observation deck at 855 feet above (they have a harness and you "free fall" while attached to a cable). All of which were not operating when we were there because the wind was blowing between 45-50 mph. We ate gelato at The Venetian on Saturday afternoon and strolled through the casino there ( we won about 150 on a one armed bandit, which we promptly cashed out, not willing to give the house a chance to take it back). And we ended our weekend by going to the 9:30 am Mass at the Guardian Angel Cathedral.

Now, I tell this story to bring about an observation we made: Las Vegas is a city of contrast. There is obvious wealth on the Strip, yet there is abject poverty on the same Strip (not to mention in other parts of the city). Perhaps Vegas is not so much different than other cities in the world, but only that the disparity is so obvious to one who will see it. Martha pondered if the casinos would give the food they don't use to food banks perhaps the homeless would have enough to eat (I don't know that the casino DON'T do this, but Martha was just thinking out loud). It is quite a sight to see such open debauchery on the streets of a city. Apparently it is not a crime to walk the Strip while carrying and consuming your favorite adult beverage. It is not uncommon to see vomit in the streets either, we drove by a parked limo whose driver was emptying out his stomach from the party the night before. (I declined to ask him for directions) There are also the "rolling billboards" driving up and down the Strip, advertising everything from Jason Alexander's hair to Gentlemen's Escort Services.

In the middle of the Strip, right behind Wynn's Resort and Casino is Guardian Angel Cathedral. A light in the middle of so much darkness. There is a presence of God on the Strip. They have 9 masses on the weekends, and 2 masses a day during the week and they have so many who work the casinos come in to get close to God, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation; Confession is held 1/2 hour before each weekday mass and before the Saturday morning Mass. They are welcoming to all who come. Their mission work is tough, tougher than most parishes, so I would ask for your prayers for the people of Guardian Angel Cathedral and the other parishes of Las Vegas: St. Joan of Arc, St., Christ the King,Holy Family, Holy Spirit,Our Lady of LaVang, Our Lady of Las Vegas, Prince of Peace, St. Anne, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bridget, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Francis de Sales, St. James the Apostle, St. Joseph husband of Mary, St. Paul Jung Ha-Sang, St. Viator, Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer, and St. Thomas Aquinas at the UNLV Campus. they are the city set on a hill and need our help to keep the light shining. 

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