I stayed in Czech Republic a few days to visit distant cousins. I was pleased to attend Sunday Mass with my third cousin Mary in a village church in the area where my great-great-grandfather lived. Many Czech churches are empty on Sundays. Atheism and agnosticism are quite high after decades of Soviet rule. But this church, dedicated to St. Wenceslaus, was almost full.
Afterward there was a Marian devotion at the side altar, pictured here. You can see only one of the three altar servers. Two were adults. One was a charming youngster who reminded me of the halo-askew “Littlest Angel.” He couldn’t have been more than 7 years old. His chasuble was two sizes too big at the neck and gapped to one side. His shock of light hair was mussed, partly standing straight up. He hadn’t a clue what to do but was enjoying the experience!
Pray for this boy and others like him. Three generations of young Czechs have grown up without a faith tradition. What a great irony that Neumann left the heavily Catholic Bohemia for missionary work in the United States. He’d finished seminary training but wasn’t ordained because there were too many priests in Bohemia. Today, his homeland is in greater need of missionary work than the U.S. … May we never take for granted our precious right to freedom of worship.