Monday, December 25, 2006

C of E mass

Tonight, after dinner, my sister took us to Midnight Mass. I have not been to midnight mass in about....well, I can't even rememeber. I remember going once when we were living in Houston around 1985. I remember that night because the blue suit my mother wore was a gift to her from my sister and I. But after that, I cannot recall when I went again. So much so that when my sister announced we were going after dinner, I had to think about exacty what it was we were doing. I am hardly religious, or in fact not at all.

This may change with age. I have noticed that people get more religious the older they become. Perhaps that might happen to me as well...though I doubt it. I am extremly anti-clerical at the best of times, so becoming religious in the future is not looking like it might happen.

I do recall the first time I went into a Protestant Church in the UK. It was Church of England, but to me, a Protestant Church just the same if only because Christians are either Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, or Coptic. I know that in the UK, CoE is sort of Catholic Light, but just the same, it is Protestant even if it is not Hardcore Protestant. Not that these denominations mean a lot to me.

But back to my point. I went to CoE mass whilst attending LSE back in 2001. We had been invited to stay at Cumberland Lodge where it is costumary to attend mass on Sunday at (I think) St Catherine's Church, inside of Windsor Great Park. In theory, the royal family were due to attend as they do most sundays during the fall, but I think that weekend the Queen Mother had one of those "chicken bone" incidents for which she was so well loved. Or something. So no Queens attended that day. At least not royal ones. The priest...well, that is another blog altogether!

I attended Sunday mass with a fellow classmate who is from New York and, being of Italian grandparents, Catholic. I do recall we were both amused by the amount of standing that went on during the service. I rememeber that we were both very tired at the end of it- though this might very well be because we stayed up until about 3 in the morning chatting away the previous night with the other students. Nonetheless, it was a new experience. It was funny when the priest said something along the lines of "...and bless the Queen and the Royal family and...". I was very surprised. Just as I am when in Catholic churches they say "...and bless the Pope and...". I always tend to say to myself "if I feel like it which I don't really". I find it hard to pray for political figures. Bless the Queen? the Pope? Heck, lets pray for Fidel Castro while we are at it! And why not Robert Mugabe in all his homophobic glory? No no no. No praying for people in power from me. Call me rebellious.

Tonight we went to mass at St Mary's Bloxham. The church itself was very beautiful: early or mid Gothic with a lovely spire. Inside it was very warm. Because we arrived a bit late, we sat at the back, and my view of the lisping vicar ( Jethuth ith Lord) was obstructed by a beautiful four-pillared Gothic column. it was a superb space. And I love English spires. And St Mary's has one. See photo above!

In this church, as in all the other churches in my life, the hymn book and photocopied mass guidelines (the script?) were not in synch with the actual service. I wish they would just give you a step-by-step guideline of the evening's songs, sermons, hymns, prayers and responses.

All my life, whenever I find myself in a mass situation, I can never follow what is happening. And whenever you are supposed to answer to things like "The Lord be with you" or "We give you thanks", I am always mumbling something like "blah blah, mm, mmph....amen". I never know what is going on. I am never on the same page as the congregation. And yes, in Oh! so many ways....!!!

Perhaps if I'd gone to mass more often I would know these things, but, alas, I have not. And I'm not about to start going. God is one thing but organised religion is another. Oh, and I hate with a passion the part about shaking people's hands and saying "mumble with you".

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