Communicating with God: One Person at a Time (Chapter 9, page 2 of 16)


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Chapter 9

The church was a modern one, quite big, square and with a floor sloping down towards the sanctuary. It took a while to get used to walking downhill towards the altar but was, presumably, what architects are wont to call 'a feature' [ even though on one occasion a little boy kept on rolling his orange down the hill to my feet while I was preaching and - not perhaps wisely - I kept on throwing it back to him]. Perhaps it did even facilitate the view of the altar and priest for the usual crowd of Catholics who always sit at the back. Yet one more mystery of my religion. It is a modern, functional church, but had little of the traditional aura of a place of worship - changed through the years now by the addition of a few statues, beautiful altar and some stained glass windows. As a loyal and obedient priest and a natural extrovert as well, my predecessor had introduced many aspects of the new liturgy, had several flourishing music groups with guitars and percussion instruments, enjoyed the services of two or three good organists, keen singers, servers and general organisers who all made it easy for this country bumpkin to merge in and not disrupt things or try to mend them if they ain't bust.

The Sunday Sign of Peace - going down the aisle and actually kissing Catholics - was beyond me, I explained, and it was cheerfully accepted. The 'Movers' - consisting of nubile young ladies in leotards dancing towards the altar at the Offertory (thankfully only performed once a month) and then holding hands with the priest - was an artistic and perfectly proper interpretation of lay participation in the Mass. But it was a surprise, not to say shock, which left me so obviously speechless and ill at ease that, after two or three months the ceremony was quietly dropped without anyone having to take any draconian measures. It would be nice to think that the change-over did not have too traumatic an effect on the parish and certainly no changes were consciously brought in just for the sake of change.

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