An original thought came to me as I planned an overnight in Willow Grove: seek out a nearby Catholic church with some liturgical events scheduled.
The thought was likely prompted not so much by an awareness of First Friday / First Saturday but rather by the feasts of St. Thérèse and Guardian Angels. On the former, I found nothing and decided to attend locally in the morning before heading out. Not even an evening holy hour in the vicinity. But on the latter, masstimes.org turned up a service at OLHC in Abington, about one mile away, an hour before the workshop's Saturday morning start time.
Still, I arrived early enough on Friday to locate the church. Funny, I drove by St. David's in Willow Grove on the way - even the hotel directory listed St. David's. But, as far as I could tell, the first weekend service there was Saturday evening about when I'd be leaving town.
Nothing was doing at OLHC mid-morning Friday but I slipped in for a rosary, I think, even though the devotion would mean forgoing lunch. I was too nervous to be hungry. Then, the next morning, I arrived just before 7:30 and said another rosary. The 8 AM liturgy was well-attended and I hung around afterwards expecting another - this time corporate - rosary.
There were three others, plus the acolyte joined us more than halfway through. Not quite a minyan. The members took turns with the decades and I wondered whether, I, a newcomer, would receive a part and how I would know. So, the acting leader nodded to me for the third Glorious mystery and I counted very carefully on my beads because there's no greater offense than saying too few ... or too many! Aw, we've all been there.
I was so uneasy, at first, at the sound of my solitary voice in the large church that I caught my breath during the second half of the Aves. Soon I got comfortable with it and was able to utter the full Marian prayer.
Now, the acting leader was curious because he took no decades for himself. "What's he waiting for?" I wondered. Something big, no doubt. Turns out, it was one of those rosary recitations that never seems to end! More and more, tacking on a dozen or so incidental prayers, one of which I couldn't understand,1 much less say. Pray for the pope's intentions, fine. Pray the Memorae, ok. Pray for Right-to-Life, yes. Pray for our intentions, naturally. Pray to St. Michael, alright. But I had my eye on my watch!
Finally, oh, finally, the lovely praying came to an end and the acting leader nodded to me again, a "thank you," and I returned the gesture and quickly left for Calvary.
1 maybe this was one.