SERVICE AT A CATHOLIC CHURCH 1
Religious institutions have traditions that are unique from eachother. These define the practices that the followers practice as wellas the activities that go on during the service. The tradition alsodictates the architectural design of the place of worship and theleadership structure. The Catholic Church is one of the mainstreamdenominations in many parts of the world, and it is distinct due toits uniformity in the world over. This paper details a typicalCatholic service that I attended and describes the salient featuresof the service as well as the physical appearance of the church thatmakes it conspicuous in the community.
The Catholic Church also referred as the Roman Catholic Church standsout as the largest Christian group in the world. The denomination isunder the leadership of the pope, known as the bishop of Rome. Thereare also other bishops I the various regions who supervise therunning of the churches in their jurisdictions. The church stands outfor its daily Eucharistic celebration led by the priests and also forits seven sacraments. To get a deep insight of what goes on in thechurch, I attended a Eucharist celebration at Saint Mary’s CatholicChurch in 307 West Main Street, Texas. The church is the oldestCatholic institution in Texas where a handful of German immigrantsput up a place of worshiping 1846. The church grew and gained asignificant place in the country (St. Mary’s Catholic Church,2015). The Church holds a mass every day with the Sunday massculminating the week. The believers available during the weekdaysattend Mass at 7 am and 7 pm. During Sundays there are three masses,at 7.30am, 9 am and 11.15am. On 30th August this year, I attended thethird mass at 11.15 am and got in touch with the traditions of theTexas-based Catholic Church.
St Mary’s Catholic Church is conspicuous and one does not have toseek reference to know that it is a Catholic place of worship. Fromthe outside, the church has high walls than any single floor buildingin the neighborhood. Unlike many buildings that have modernexteriors, the church reflects a tradition of permanence whereby, thewalls do not have a striking characteristic of modernity. Even to avisitor, the church seems to have undergone very few renovations. Itis also different from other buildings due to its high pillars thatextend upwards giving the walls a steady support. It seems to echothe concept of the church being built on a firm foundation, not onlyin faith but also in structure. On its highest point, there is a bigstone crucifix that signifies that it is a place of worship.
The interiors of the church are also unique for a place of worship.The ceiling extends upwards that in any single residential building Ihave entered. The windows have immaculately colored patterns thatallow in multiple reflections. The church has a cross-like layoutwith a major nave and two transepts that extend on both sides justnear the altar. There is a boundary marked by stairs between the pewsin the nave and the transepts and the altar. Above the altar, therehangs an explicitly carved image of Christ on the cross, and it isvisible to the congregation from all the three sides. Anotherimportant feature I noted was the presence of formed picturessummarizing the passion of Christ mounted on the walls. Also, oneither side of the altar, there are two iconic paintings one of Marythe mother of Christ and the other depicting Mary and her husbandholding baby Jesus. Their presence informs anyone present of the kindof worship that takes place in the church since it revolves the lifeof Christ, his passion and its importance to a Christian’s life.During mass, all the believers face towards the altar. A furtheranalysis shows that the church faces east, the direction of therising sun.
Various people are holding different roles in the church, and this isevident during the Eucharistic celebration. The parochial vicar,father Kryzsztof Bytomski is in his early 60s, is the overalloverseer of the activities of the church with the assistance offather Enda McKenna, a man in his middle age. They are conspicuousdue to their traditional albs and chasubles that they wear during thecelebration of the Eucharist. The others are Joe Kammlah, who acts asthe office manager, Stephanie Cavanaugh the secretary, Linda Reeh thebookkeeper and Mary Murchison the liturgist (St. Mary’s CatholicChurch, 2015).
The group plays a significant role in the church trough their activeparticipation and also contributions towards the church activities.The group of Saint Mary’s church is predominantly white with a fewAfrican American and Hispanics (St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 2015).There is a relatively balanced gender distribution, and the two donot have designated places to sit. However, the middle age and theelderly dominate the church and the number of the youth is about 25%o the population. Children have a reserved sitting place at the frontwhere there are under the control of the Sunday, school teacher.During that specific day, they sang a hymn to entertain thecongregation. Unlike the other believers, they have a navy blueuniform that they wear whenever they have a performance.
In the Catholic Church, the liturgical roles are distributed amongthe present members. The congregation responds to the prayers made bythe priest as well as participating in hymnals. Members of the groupalso read the Scriptures from the pulpit and also take part in theprayers of the faithful. Most of the members, as I noted, are wellversed in the prayers, and the Nicene Creed recited after the homily.At every juncture in the celebration, that is introductory rites, theliturgy of the Word, the Eucharist, and the Concluding Rites, thecongregation forms a primary part because their response and activeparticipation are required.
The service started with an entrance hymn that alerted the group tostand as the priest and the altar servers processed to the altar fromthe back. An altar serves to carry the cross led while two otherholding lit candles mounted on golden stands followed with the priestat the back. On reaching the altar, they bowed, and the priest wentahead to kiss the altar. The Priest started with the traditionalintroductory greeting, “The Lord be With You” and the people madea unanimous repose, “And with Your Spirit.” After a shortpreliminary speech, he called on the believers to repent their sinsbefore inviting the readers to the pulpit. There were two readingsand a responsorial psalm whereby the congregation repeated theresponse verse at the end of every stanza.
The priest led the gospel from the book of Mark and made a powerfulhomily. On the importance of having a clean heart rather than beingexternally perfect yet full of evil. He made a reference from theincident when the Pharisees reproached his disciples for eatingwithout washing their hands that were against the Jewish tradition. Inoted a striking similarity in the theme of the reading since it waspresent in all the readings. The congregation recited the NiceneCreed and made offerings.
The mass reached its climax during the liturgy of the Eucharist. Weall knelt as the priest made prayers from the big missal on the altarto turn the wine and bread to the blood and body of Christ. He usedseveral vessels like the golden chalice that contained the wine and asmall pattern that held the bread. He made a sign of the cross n thetwo elements, and as, per the Catholic faith, they were no longerbread and wine, they became the body and blood of Christ. He thencalled the believers to receive the eucharis while the choir sanghymns relating to the importance of the ceremony. There were theSunday school entertainment and brief announcements from thesecretary. The whole process took approximately two hours after whichthe father blessed the congregation with the sign of the cross andprogressed to the sacristy together with the altar servers.
St. Mary’sCatholic Church. (2015). About St. Mary’s. Retrieved fromhttp://church.stmarysfbg.com/about-stmarys/