I am hoping to get a little of my own back on Eddy, my generous host of two weeks in London, when he accompanies me to the Farm Street Church for a Latin Mass one Sunday during my stay. Living under the same roof as Eddy is one big sermon, so he’s quite comfortable at the prospect of listening to a sermon from a ‘mighty Jesuit’ for a change.
An avowed atheist notwithstanding, Eddy is also attracted by the music program for the Trinity Sunday Mass that we’d seen on the church Notice Board walking to lunch on Regent Street one day. He sends me to the front pew while he sits in the back row so he doesn’t feel pressured to get up and down and kneel with everyone else. He’s happy taking in the beautifully decorated, rich interior and enjoys the choir and the music.
The organ booms and the choir sings. We all stand. Eddy sits as the dear priest slowly makes it down the aisle leaning heavily on his walking stick in a cloud of incense. One step at a time, he carefully makes it up to the altar, and bows. I’m waiting for an inspiring sermon from this senior English cleric, and then looking forward to Eddy’s feedback, to see if any of it finds a chink in his atheist armour.
The Bach Organ Prelude and Postlude, and the choir singing a Mozart Mass delights him (and me) no end. But instead of giving me his feedback on the sermon after Mass, he asks me what I got out of it!
My one opportunity for proselytizing is doomed. One up for Eddy!
How could I expound on the ‘anthropocentric’ character of God our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier when I didn’t really understand what the ‘mighty Jesuit’ was talking about? I did pick up on his “We can only find God and his will in all things if there are actions of ours above all prayer that fuel the mind and heart with genuine attention to the real needs of others”. Amen!
Afterwards, I reflect on my recent visit to Armenia and wonder what message the apostles, Bartholomew and Thaddeus who brought Christianity to the people of Armenia in the 1st Century AD would have been. Probably much the same as today’s ‘mighty Jesuit’, but without the ‘anthropocentric character of God’ bit.
Farm Street Church is in Mayfair. Even here, a homeless man greets me from his sleeping bag on the front steps as I enter the church. I feel like I’m back home. However, as the Mass progresses to Readings by members of the laity, there is no doubt we’re in Mayfair. A lady in pink Armani suit and large pink garden-party hat steps up to the pulpit. She looks like a ‘talking hat’. Perhaps she’s come to Mass straight from Ladies Day in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.