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Impression of the Church
Although I am not a protestant, my first impression of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was both overwhelming and humbling. As I pulled over at the church, which is located along the North Bayshore drive, I felt almost as though I was arriving at a classic beach resort, but one with a religious atmosphere. It is an impressive structure, whose architectural design bears elements of both the gothic and modernist architectural movements. It stands on a flat piece of ground and, although there is a skyscraper right next to it, it still manages to stand out like the holy edifice it is. A fenced, neatly trimmed lawn surrounds it, and there are palm trees growing at the edge of the compound, giving the structure a serene and contemplative appearance.
Nature of Worship
While we settled into our seats, music played in the prelude to the mass and bulletins with the contents of the day’s service were passed around. After a short prayer led by the vicar, we were called upon to say a collect prayer, which I later came to learn means putting our thoughts together. Then there were greetings and we sat down for the liturgy of the word in order from the First reading, Psalms, Second and Third readings. In between the readings, there were various acclamations and then the gospel after which, the priest rose to deliver the sermon (Stauffer, 2003). The theme of the day was humility and spiritual poverty, which drew heavily from the Beatitudes. I found it quite interesting since being a Christian, I could relate to what he was saying. However, what I found most remarkable was the fact that the psalm was not sung, it was simply read like the rest of the readings. In my church, it would not feel like I had been to mass if I did not take part in chanting the Responsorial Psalm. Just saying it aloud sounded a bit like a grade school lesson to me. Admittedly, the catholic chanting I find normal might seem even stranger to someone not used to it.
Comparisons and Reflections
The congregation appeared sombre throughout the service, and people did not exchange any conversation. However, during the mass, there was a point where the priest asked us to shake our neighbours’ hands as a sign of peace. Like everything else, this was done solemnly, although my neighbour, no doubt noticed I was new to it all, smiled in encouragement. There was also Holy Communion, but it was unlike in the Catholic Church, where the priest dips the wafer in the goblet of wine and places it in the communicant’s mouth (Stauffer, 2003). Here, the priest gives the communicants a wafer and a tiny container of wine while on their knees. However, aside from that, the overall rites were almost identical. In conclusion, I would say the service was quite enjoyable and although it had the same traditional feel as the catholic mass, it was a refreshing change. In fact, I recommend the experience to anyone, irrespective of their religious affiliation since, one of the keys to universal harmony is experiencing cultures from new perspectives (Molloy, 2013). While I was not tempted to shift denominations, I am quite happy to admit that the time spent in the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was well spent, both from a sociological and religious point of view.
Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the world’s religions: Tradition, challenge, and change. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Stauffer, G. B. (2003). Bach, the Mass in B minor: the great Catholic Mass. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.