Yesterday was the first Sunday of Lent, so I chanted the Great Litany (in English) in Solemn Procession at the 7:30 am Eucharist at San Cristóbal. I also preached, but as soon as my sermon was finished and the Nicene Creed was being recited, I sneaked out the side door, grabbed my guitar, and the Lovely Mona and I met up with Walter Smith, Revda. Glenda McQueen, Bishop Murray and Kelly, the bishop's driver and we headed east for Iglesia Jesús Nazareno in Tortí for their Patronal Festival (yes, the first Sunday of Lent is the Feast Day of Jesús Nazareno here in Panamá). We made good time and arrived about two hours later in Tortí. We all got out of the car and were greeted by Padre Román Morán, priest in charge in Tortí.
The piety of the churches in Panama City, Colón, and Bocas del Toro is different than that of the churches in the Interior. This is because the churches in Panamá, Colón and Bocas del Toro were founded primarily by Afroantillanos, or Panamanians of West Indian heritage, while the churches in the Interior are Latino Panamanians. So the piety of the churches in the major cities is High Church Anglican, while the piety of the churches in the Interior tend to be border-line Roman Catholic (Panamá is a Roman Catholic country). This being the case, we started the Patronal Feast with the Procession of Jesús Nazareno through the main street in Tortí. We would walk and sing and then stop at some point, where Padre Román and Bishop Murray would offer prayers. Then we would continue walking and singing, while a couple members of the Vestry marched along side of us, setting off very noisy sky rockets. The first one they set-off frightened a man in a pickup, who backed into a stack of concrete blocks, breaking several blocks and scratching up his pickup!
About an hour later everyone returned to the church, where we began the Blessing of the New Building. The bishop stood outside, knocked on the gate and said "Que sea abierta la puerta." Once inside, he said, "Paz sea a esta casa, y a todos los que entran en ella; En Nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo. Amén." and then walked around sprinkling holy water all over the place. The the Holy Eucharist began. I was the musician for the service, and the Lovely Mona and I performed a duet for the Ofertorio. After Communion we had lots of blessings for birthdays and anniversaries and all kindsa stuff. After the service we all enjoyed holadres y salchichas o sancocho (fry bread and hot dogs in a red sauce or típico chicken soup). We had many conversations and then headed back for the city around 3:00 pm. Along the way we stopped at a river between two indigenous communities, Kuna and Embara. The Lovely Mona was able to snap a photo of the Kuna canoes on the river. We breezed through all the Police stops and didn't have to show our identification, which was different than my trip to Bocas two weeks ago. We got home around 5:00 pm and took a showers (it was really hot and we were soaked) and then enjoyed dinner. All in all a wonderful day! And, of course, we have photos!
Iglesia Jesús Nazareno
Rectory (in center of photo)
The Altar. Note the bottle of water in front of the altar, wrapped in a rosary. People put water near the altar so that it will become holy water during the epiclesis and then they use it for medicine.
Setting-off sky rockets
The Bishop says "Let the doors be opened!"
Some guy playing guitar
Blessing the new building
Bishop Murray preaching
Kuna end of the river