Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ashy Disappointment

Ok, that was a really bad pun intended.

But back to the serious stuff, I was so disappointed with the service at the St Marguerite Bourgois church for Ash Wednesday. It was full of confusing and offensive things that just turned the whole night kind of sour and quite anti-climactic.

It started off quite nice, I arrived maybe half hour before service to reflect and read, and there was a choir singing quite softly, and a man was lighting the candles in the front. I was wearing my scarf to cover my head with, and had prepared to get a ton of stares, but the church was empty enough and the people there were quiet, most of them so engrossed in their prayers they didnt even see me arrive, which was great. I sat down at the edge of my pew, and noticed that many people were kneeling before entering the pew, or when leaving it, which was also great. I even noticed a woman wearing what looked like a chapel veil. Awesome!

Then things started going weird. The priest and altar boys came and went as they prepared for Mass, and every time they passed in front of the altar, they would bow or kneel. That's not the weird part. Then, two women dressed in long white robes started coming and going from behind to the altar and around the church and they would never bow or kneel where the priest and the boys went, even though they passed in the same place. They touched everything. What was on the altar, around the altar, placing things on and off the altar. Then they went to sit down on two chairs and began to speak (quite loudly and annoyingly to those of us who were trying to pray) about a woman named Susan's boyfriend. Like, seriously?

Then Mass started. The priest opened the night with a prayer... in Spanish, saqid by one of the ladies. In a church full of mostly old French people. Then proceeded to tell the assembly that this was a Latino friendly church and to please invite all your family and friends to this church. It just honestly sounded like a cheap advertisement add. He went on with a sermon but kept getting lost

After that the Mass went on, and it was time for the ashes, but when it was my turn, the priest looked at me, smiled in a way that felt very derisive, and told me to take off my scarf. I shrugged it back a little and he sprinkled ashes on the top of my head, at the back where the veil was still on. So that was highly uncomfortable, and my scarf was full of ashes, rather than my forehead.

Then it was time for Communion which I don't take part of because I haven't confessed yet. Good thing too, because it was the two ladies that gave it out. The priest blessed the Host and Wine, and then handed it off to the ladies who each took one and took a sip from the Chalice, and gave them out to the congregation, blessing them and crossing their foreheads. What???

THEN to make things even better, they ended in a song where the ladies took out their friggin instruments (that would be including a tambourine) and sang a lovely upbeat call and answer song about how it was great to be in the arms of Jesus.

Maybe Im wrong, maybe Im still stuck in the Greek Church way, maybe this is how they do it now. But it just felt wrong and uncomfortable. Ugh.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, so sad, so sorry you had to go through that. The communion thing is technically allowed in certain circumstances, which I doubt were in play here - lay people, called extraordinary ministers of communion, who have to get sort of special formation and swearing-in, may be used when there are too many people receiving communion for the priest to administer communion to in a timely manner... which itself is sort of debateable (from some churches you'd think that anything more than 1.5 minutes was too long!)... but I seriously doubt there were hundreds of people at this church you went to, right? And also, total irreverence before the Blessed Sacrament, ESPECIALLY by the women servers (in the Latin Mass, women are not allowed in the sanctuary at all, like in the Greek church) for some reason - no genuflection before the tabernacle, or even a bow or nod or anything, touching things that in the Latin Mass only the priest touches - the sacred vessels, etc. Honestly it almost causes me a crisis of faith at times. I hold fast because the Latin Mass has continued to be and to flourish, and I hope for eventual Orthodox-Catholic unity... but when I go to a Novus Ordo parish I pretty much have to block out a lot of visuals and stick to my missal or I will be too angry and distracted to receive communion. It's awful. Some NO churches are better than others. This might be interesting to you: