Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cultural Activity: Easter Mass at Notre Dame

Easter Sunday this year happened to fall during Conference weekend, which meant that we didn’t have any normal church meetings, so Rebecca, Rich, Haley, and I went to 11:00 mass at Notre Dame. As we arrived at the Cathedral, I definitely felt a little overwhelmed, since the square in front of the church was swarming with tourists. They had formed a crazy criss-crossing line up to the doors, so we just picked a spot that seemed like it might be the end and jumped in. Apparently it wasn’t, because the American lady in front of us informed us that we needed to go to the real end of the line and pointed in another direction. Silly American lady. She must not have ever experienced the French tendency to ignore lines and just rush toward the entrance when doors open.

Lucky for us, the place where she sent us was actually closer to the doors, so we got in without too much trouble. This also meant that we were right along the path of the priests as they wove through the crowd with their incense. At least I think it’s incense, but I don’t really know much about Catholicism. The place was absolutely packed, leaving us with only standing room on the edges, but we were able to watch the service on TV screens. The service itself was nice, and I actually understood quite a bit of the sermon, which was given by the archbishop of Paris. My favorite part of the service was when we were told to give the sign of peace and then shook hands with the people around us. Sometimes I feel a little isolated among all these reserved French people, so it was nice to experience that moment of acceptance and good will.

I had gone with Ariel to communion at Saint Paul’s in London the week before, and I was struck by how similar the two services were, despite the fact the differences between the Anglican and Catholic churches. The music and structure were very similar, although the Catholic sermon seemed a bit more formal. I kept remembering how one of my old history professors used to refer to the Anglican Church as “Catholic Light.” Maybe it’s truer than I imagined.

Sorry I don’t have any pictures – I forgot my camera!

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