Tuesday, December 23, 2008
4th Sunday of Advent at Westminster Cathedral
Sunday was the 4th Sunday of Advent, when Mary finds out she's going to be the mother of Jesus, and it was also my late grandfather's birthday. To remember him as well as get in my yearly church obligation (there is no way I will make Midnight Vigil Mass this year after flying for seven hours), I went to church at Westminster Cathedral. Do not confuse this church with Westminster Abbey, the really old Anglican church; this is the seat of the Catholic church in London.
Westminster Cathedral is not that old; I think it was built in the 19th century on the site of a smaller Catholic Church. Since Catholicism is not the state religion of England (like it is in other European nations), it's actually kind of hard to find a Catholic church and this cathedral doesn't have the history or gravitas of the great European houses of worship. Currently it is undergoing major reconstruction and renovation on the interior; there was scaffolding up the inside wall of entrance end of the nave, and there were plywood walkways covering the floor.
The Mass itself was the usual mass, but it was weird to hear the Homily said with an English accent. There were other odd differences in responses, and they had a woman who functioned like a Jewish cantor singing most of the responses to organ music. It was nice, however, to go to a church with pageantry and austerity - even if it was under construction - and see how a big parish acts on behalf of the community.