We were going to go to St. Ann’s, but their service is at 9am, downtown. We were going to go to Mt. St. Michael’s at 10:30am out on the prairie, but Michael (the hubby, not the saint) said he couldn’t wear a suit* today. My dad needed to be picked up at the airport (west of town) at noon, so we settled on St. Aloysius on the Gonzaga campus, as they have an 11am service, are on the way to the airport, and were bound to be a little less formal than St. Michael’s.
St. Aloysius was the third in our “liturgical series” of churches in the project (St. Luke’s CdA two weeks ago and Peace Lutheran last week being the others so far). Although we’re familiar with much of the service because the Episcopal liturgy is pretty much stolen straight from the Catholic mass, there’s still some variations we weren’t ready for. We sat in the very back of the 1,100 seat church, which was pretty full, and were able to more easily follow along. They use a yearly version of missals I’ve seen elsewhere, that contain the order of service, the readings, and many pieces of music, but I’m not really clear on how you’re supposed to know where you are in the service. We were speculating that maybe it’s just that most people are born in to the Catholic faith, but then remembered that to convert to being Catholic, most people take a course of some sort, and, as I looked more on the St. Aloysius page, I note that they have Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) prominently linked from the home page. Of course, given all the things our course to become Episcopalians didn’t include (including, but not limited to, instruction on crossing one’s self), this may or may not be helpful for participation in the service itself.
St. Aloysius’ nave was full. Quite full. And rather brimming with life, as there were many small wiggly children in the pews. This is something I think is important to have in church (small wiggly children). This particular morning, they also did several baptisms of small wiggly children and infants. I’d not seen this before, but the infants were wrapped in towels that were removed for the baptism. They just “sprinkled” (that is, poured a small amount of water on the heads of the babies), and then the parent (mostly the dad) held the naked baby aloft, before re-wrapping in the towel. One little fellow (closer to two) was not going to have any of it, and started to shriek, which elicited a joke about exorcism from the priest. But he waited for the little guy to get comfortable with the process. Like Episcopal baptisms, they also anointed the heads of the baptized with oil, but, unlike the Episcopalians, they also added a “white garment”, which were small white stole/scarves that they put around the necks of the babes, which gave them the appearance of being teeny little priests in front of the huge white altar. It looks like the white garment might be a standard practice in a Catholic Baptism–see #94.
The real downside to this particular church is that here, again, we have a communion issue. The Catholics have long fenced the table, and although this church was large enough that I’m sure we could have “snuck in” line and taken communion, that seems to do against the whole point of it, so we went in, already figuring that there would be communion, but we wouldn’t be taking it. The front of the missal book they had a discussion about taking communion, and how they welcomed other Christians already in unity with them . . . but we didn’t think that probably included Episcopalians, if for no other reason that we’re consubstantiation, not transubstantiation in our beliefs. Here’s a Catholic view of consubstantiation — note how it begins with the word “heresy.” The same site’s discussion of transubstantiation will give you an idea of the difference, if these are new concepts.
Since we had to pick up my dad at the airport, we scooted out of the service at noon, just as the first folks down front were bring ushered up for communion.
Farmergirl’s initial reaction was that the decor was over the top, which makes me think she needs to spend considerable more time in the great churches and cathedrals of Europe. I suspect the liberal Easter-season use of gold lame’ fabric on the white Italian marble ambo and altars (especially on the series of very large altars — towering altars, really — probably did in her aesthetic.
Well, tomorrow is my first day of this round of jury duty, so I’m headed off to make sure I have clean socks, and a shiny new book to take along. (I’m going to wear the socks, but my knitting needles were confiscated the second day last time, so I’m not going without reading material–I may wear my hair in a bun with some funky, pointy bun-sticks tomorrow–or continue my new-found crocheting ability).
*Michael’s suit: This is not for want of a suit. He has one. Actually, he came with a suit (which he hated and did not wear to our wedding) when we married. When he was in highschool, his father insisted he have a suit. Michael wanted black. His father insisted on navy. Michael wanted pleats. His father insisted they were a fad. So he had this suit — that he hated — for many years, and he didn’t bother to replace it until his sister was getting married at a very posh resort, and he hated the navy suit. (Also, truth be told, he was about 2″ too tall for the navy suit, even when he wasn’t seated). The new suit is black, and has pleated pants. He looks rather nice in it. He just didn’t have the heart this morning to hardly get out of bed, let alone wear a suit to church. If we continue the “liturgical series” at Mt. St. Michael’s, he might work up the energy to wear the suit (and Farmergirl and I have to wear skirts that reach the knee when sitting or standing, and some kind of headscarf (though they have those for loan)).