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April 16, 2017

Pascua de Resurrección - Easter Sunday 2017

I am such a closet Roman Catholic. If you have read anything about my early faith experiences, you will know that I was Episcopalian as a child. Sitting in church services today at the Monasterio de Santa Isabel La Real in the Albaycin area of Granada, I felt like a small wide-eyed child. I have always loved ritual and especially loved mystery. This monastery, built in 1504, was the first for the women of Granada, and it has been inhabited ever since by nuns who are cloistered and do not make themselves present for outsiders although they use a lazy Susan to sell baked good to passing visitors.

It is a small, intimate, church, shaped like a ship, with an altar area that looms 15 steps above the congregation. The church, itself, has been fairly recently restored to its original beauty. The service, in Spanish, was lovely, and I was surrounded by not more than about 40 worshippers. The gentle, white haired, priest officiated on the same level as the congregation and twice walked down the aisle with blessings. I considered taking communion, and wish i had, but didn't feel like I should without a specific invitation to non Catholics. However, since I didn't understand but a mere fraction of the language, maybe I was welcome to do so.

It is hard to capture in mere words the impact of both the service and the sense of setting in such an ancient structure surrounded with icons depicting the saints and martyrs of your faith while the singing of the cloistered nuns swirled in the air. The mass in Spanish added to the mystery. I found that I understood words here and there. I knew that the first sentence of the Apostles Creed began with the word Credo giving me a clue as to what was about to come even though I could not fully participate. Just knowing enough of the mass was a comfort even with a language barrier. Just knowing you were participating in something so ancient that worshippers throughout the centuries had experienced was heartwarming. But, I was fascinated with two particular things. Partway through the service, the priest came into the congregation and people turned to each other and passed the Peace. He made his way through the people, shaking everyone's hands, and some other people did the same. It was heartwarming and reminded me of home. Second, no one kneeled during the service. Maybe Catholics are kneeling less often -- but I was glad to escape those non-padded kneelers.

All in all, it was a lovely Easter service and one I shall never forget. I may need to visit other Catholic or Episcopal churches from time to time just to remind myself of my roots and of the loveliness of ritual.

Posted by Marilyn at April 16, 2017 6:00 AM


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