“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the religious blog that reports things as it sees them, and willingly admits it has more questions than answers.

I may not finish this because the repairman needs to see my laptop, and UPS could be at the door any minute now. I shall be using a friend’s Mac (I’ve never liked them) or the library machines instead.

In solidarity,
Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc..”

I went to my first ever Mass in a Catholic church last week. It was a memorial service in Trinidad where we hoped to meet some old friends from the days when we used to live there. It was quite a similar affair to Anglican Holy Communion which I used to attend every Sunday some decades ago. Some things surprised me though, both pleasantly and less pleasantly.

  • Bread wafers were distributed to communicants but no wine; apparently this is for special days, like Easter, only.
  • A woman assisted in the distribution of the sacrament.
  • There was no order of service pamphlet, so non-Catholics such as ourselves were alienated from the start, not knowing when to stand/sit/kneel/shake hands. Everyone except us seemed to know the words (or responses as they used to be called). I felt even more of an outsider when a stranger came up in the middle of the service and held my hand for a minute or so. I hastily looked around and saw everyone else was holding hands too. I’ve no idea why, and I couldn’t catch the words so I didn’t reply, just stayed shtumm.
  • The Monsignor didn’t stand at the door to greet the congregation when they left. I thought vicars always did this.
  • The choir was good and we had the words but no-one appeared to join in.
  • Everything was in English.
  • Above the altar was the Lenten message for all good Catholics: REMEMBER YOU ARE DUST! Why hadn’t someone ripped this banner down? Are Catholics always so passive when someone insults them like this? Do they really deserve to be swept under the carpet (or sucked up in a hoover)? Do they feel so inferior? Why do they accept someone else’s judgement of them? The church’s name was Our Lady of Perpetual Help, or, as I believe it used to be known, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Another rendition of this might well be Our Lady of the Perpetual Suckers. The ‘You are dust’ slogan is surely not biblical. Is it a quote from this nice new pope? I think I’ll write and ask him.

We left the church and walked to the car past the Catholic bookshop next door which had a security guard  and a bell on the door post so that staff could let customers in if they rang. More like a bank than a religious booksellers. I can just see criminals trying to steal the missals and rosaries; perhaps ram raiding the storefront or doing a smash and grab. “Empty the till and give me a dozen bibles while you’re at it!”

I don’t think I’ll bother to go to Mass again.

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