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.
An absoutely brilliant write up of the occasion,
Michael, Your reports of your trips are amazingly informative and interesting. You have been encouraged to write a travel book and have not done so but why don’t you write for a magazine? all you’d have to do is send a record of one of your trips and they would love it. Pick your mag and do it. Probably you have lots of followers of your blog but there are many, many more people who would love to get the feeling that they are actually travelling with you, which I do. You have a real talent let others enjoy it. Mary
Michael, hot from Darko’s funeral, which was such an extraordinary celebration, as Denis and others are bound to tell you, I was just in the mood for the old J’s ‘fuelling the heart by attending to the real needs of others’ And for remembering what Farm St is like. Which in turn reminded me of the young friend of ours over there who, having popped the question and got the ‘yea’, knocked on the Farm St presbytery door and told the priest he’d liked to get married there. To which the reverend gentleman replied: ‘you wouldn’t have enough money for that’. So he swears! Travel well, Michael. We do look forward to seeing you back at St C’s soon. Yours, Kevin
Dear M, No wonder Eddy wasn’t impressed with stuff like that. Keep it simple I say! Anyway, at least you got him inside the House of God and he enjoyed the music. JT Hong Kong
Michael The hobby priest has just read – and re-read to try to understand it! – the text of the full sermon you sent separately. It probably wouldn’t be out of place in a Theology 1 lecture in a Jesuit Seminary. But for people like the “talking hat”? Methinks the good Father has some work to do in choosing language to engage his audience/flock. There has to be a style somewhere between appealing to “the lowest common denominator” and satisfying or challenging theologians in the congregation. What does Fr Scheele think?
Dear hobby priest, Here is the atheist’s observation which you did not ask for, but I write it anyway: The Jesuit did not live up to his sermon in at least one respect. I quote: “we can only find God………if there are actions and genuine attention to he needs of others” I assume that most believers in this church on Sunday were looking for some guidance from the sermon which, I believe, most did not receive or comprehend. This tells me that even ‘men of God’ fail to live up to their ideal on occasion, or we are all human.
Bravo…great stuff…St Paul would be proud of you
I like it, it is very factual. I have a personal question: Does it mean if I would pray I would find God? An atheist cannot pray otherwise he is not an atheist. Now relax a bit! Bruder
Dear Michael, What a hat! A talking hat. That is why I like our “pulpit” – you can see the whole body. It surely is an interesting church.