Friday, March 11, 2011

A Bilingual Ash Wednesday Mass

There, in the background, is the cathedral (St. Nicholas) where I attended Ash Wednesday Mass here in Amsterdam. Let me just say that it is an absolutely gorgeous church, with beautiful paintings serving as the Stations of the Cross.

As for the Mass itself, it was quite a lesson in languages. The celebrant was a native Spanish speaker who could also more than hold his own in Dutch. Also on the altar was a native Dutch speaker. With all of this language fire power, the Mass alternated between the two languages, with some songs and responses in Dutch and others in Spanish. There were several places during the Mass where Dutch and Spanish were used sequentially, as in the case of the scripture readings.

And then, as if the proceedings didn't remind me enough about attending Mass in China already, there were the processions to receive ashes and Holy Communion. Both of these processions totally resembled the free-for-alls we have become used to at Beijing's North Cathedral and other locations around the country. And, just like at many Masses in China, people didn't seem to have a sense of certainty about when to sit, stand, or kneel. I know I was out of sync on a number of occasions!

And, just in case you were wondering about the language capabilities of the congregation, the responses that were spoken in Spanish came out much louder than the responses that were spoken in Dutch.



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