Friday, May 25, 2007

Delta Religion : St.Elizabeth's

Monty is one of the congregants of St.Elizabeth's Catholic Church in Clarksdale, Mississippi. While speaking to Father John on Monday morning our conversation seamlessly shifted from the subject of photography and documentary to the doctrine and faith of Catholicism. I was expecting such situations, having decided to cover religion in the Mississippi Delta. Father John began calling himself and the church a "Eucharistic People", meaning the core of their worship was the observance of the Eucharist and what it represents. In his humble office, soaked in morning sunlight, I noticed his top button was undone and the white bar that usually sits below the collar stood vertically in the breast pocket of his black shirt. Coupled with his southern drawl it denoted a man walking between the formality of church and the familiarity of a neighbor. Without realizing where his dialogue had headed he began to teach and his excitement for the doctrine came through honestly and authentic. We are individual, self centered creatures that don't listen to eachother unless what is being taught comes from a divine and sincere origin. As he told me that the Eucharist is prayed for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by parishioners in a small room behind the alter I could feel the pure devotion in his words. In my own personal dictionary, a "Man of God" should be someone who teaches and interacts like Father John. Devotion coming from inside to mold a conversation into on photography into an insight on the things of life considered divine. I didn't end up spending any more time with Father John and the parish but before I left I was shown the tiny little room where Monty was fulfilling his 2 hour segment with a rosary in his wrinkled hands.