Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tattoos, Headscaves, and Long Halls

We attend mass at the Basilica in town. It’s a big, beautiful old gray-stone church. Light, open, and Eastery. The early morning mass is the Extraordinary form. I prefer our liturgy to the novus ordo, primarily because I can’t resist the over-abundant ritual, but also becuase, like Flannery O Connor,"I do not like the raw sound of the human voice in unison unless it is under the discipline of music." . Our priest is a dual-rite Byzantine , and that is another benefit to me, as I miss the Liturgy of John Chrysostom.

       One thing I love about old churches are the long aisles lined in stained glass. I like the sound of my shoes on the tile as I walk. I like the saints with their votives watching from the walls. Visually, the church raises me up, even when Yarrow is being decidedly unpious, or when I’m too tired or preoccupied to hear the words from the altar. Our mass community attracts me visually as well. I love watching them trickle in. The Large and Confusing Family in twos and threes, the Somber Family already at prayer, the exuberant family, the fashionable couple, the mournful couple, the man with the lawnmower tattoo just above his receding hairline. The variety is thrilling, and so is the common enthusiasm.

Most of the women wear headscarves, at least part of the time, and it delights me to not be an oddity, to seethe diversity of scarves come in. I covet some of them, and simply admire others. I like the mystery the scarf gives to the wearer. I love the whole drama of the liturgy, and my own part in it as well


  1. Yesyesyesyesyes. I don't mind the sound of human voices resonating in the rafters, but the Novus Ordo is sadly lacking in ritual and reverence. Maybe that is not of itself but of the worshipers. There does seem to be something about the absolute silence of the traditional masses that lends itself to contemplation.

    I roped my family into our parish long ago, insisting, "It looks like a REAL church." Meaning no octagonal floor plans, no dark, shapeless stained glass, no ugly modernistic statues.

    We have two large families in our parish, the Beard Family and the Asian Family, named respectively for the appearance of their patriarchs. I love watching them, with their bonneted babies.

    This past Sunday I saw a deep-red, almost maroon, lace mantilla.

  2. Ooh, another mantilla to covet! We have a grey silk mantilla at our church that hangs halfway down her back and shimmers just a tiny bit in the light. I want it.