Warm noon-day sunshine streams in through gothic windows, creating a glow in the nave of a church still heavy with incense from the previous Mass.
The high altar, dressed in white for Corpus Christi, is ablaze with candles: in addition to the “big six”, dozens of smaller candles brighten the gradeine.
On the altar, in front of the tabernacle, stands a green-veiled chalice, while altar cards stand propped against the larger candlesticks.
The bell rings and the congregation, composed equally of men and women and mainly in their early twenties, rise to their feet, gently marshalling errant infants. The door to the week-day chapel opens and a priest, vested in a green Roman chasuble and with his head covered by his Dominican hood, walks in, preceded by a single altar-server.
Before climbing the steps to the altar, both men stop and the words of the confiteor drift above us and, for the next forty minutes, I seem to have stepped outside this world, with its concerns, into a different place.
I make no especial attempt to follow the text of the Mass, a book would have been a distraction from the sacrifice that I was both witness to and offering on my own behalf, and for once my chattering mind falls quiet.
I go forward and kneel at the substantial balustrade that skirts the sanctuary, behold, adore and receive Our Lord.
The blessing, the dismissal, the Last Gospel and the congregation sings a Latin hymn, their plain-chant sure-footed and enthusiastically sung.
I walk back to the busy shops, bearing with me the feeling that I had never participated quite so actively in a Mass before.
“I walk back to the busy shops, bearing with me the feeling that I had never participated quite so actively in a Mass before.”
The only word I have to say to that is, Amen.