Sunday, April 17, 2011

fiftieth visit: April 17th 2011 Roman Catholicism, Polish Mass, Palm Sunday

8:30am sunday
Polish Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church
Palm Sunday
3058 Brereton Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15219
polish hill

The later Masses are in English; I specifically choose this one. I love a service in a language I don't understand.

Lately I've accepted the fact that I can no longer even pretend to myself that I look anything like the other worshipers. And underneath my shyness, maybe because of it, I think this is fun. (We had an awful lot of rules about what we could and could not wear to church when I was growing up.) Many comments have been thrown my way, but the Good Witch of the North remark is still my very favorite.
It's really surprising to me at this point when someone says I look nice, referring to my dress. Today, this happens. It sounds really sincere. Appreciated.

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday. Commemorating Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. I had expected to have difficulty finding parking at this large parking lot-less church, on a holiday. But this was not the case. Hunting for the one unlocked door, I wonder for a minute if I had the wrong time for the service, wrong day for Palm Sunday. So quiet. A small smattering of devotees.

Sitting, I realize I have maybe never listened to spoken Polish. I mean really listened, and definitely not at this length. Nothing familiar. Even if it is right next to Germany.

Within 45 minutes, the service concludes. An usher notices I missed grabbing a palm when I hurried in, and offers one to me. I stay almost an hour looking and drawing. Gorgeous sanctuary. Gold stars pained on the ceiling among icon paintings; both domes. Electric candle-lights dominate in patterned sprays at the alter.

At first I am not alone; others stay to pray. Later I look up from my drawing to see I am the only one left in this massive space. Sculpted Saints covered in cloth* become red an purple ghosts scattered throughout the sanctuary. Angels lofting electric chandelier are left undraped ...visible I mean, not covered in cloth except for the clothing in which they are sculpted. I draw one of the pair. 3-D Elihu Vedder. In the dark, more or less. But it's not just the dark; it's the first day I realize I need my reading glasses, to properly see my marks. Sigh.

Eventually congregants trickle in for the next service, an hour early. A woman stops to speak to me while I draw: it's the next service, the 11:00, that is the big one. Pageantry. And won't I stay? I like pageantry. But I had to go.

And I can add to my running count of
worshipers spotted wearing Steelers garb while worshiping:

1 worshiper wearing a Steelers jacket.
Running Total for the project: 27 (to date)

* I had to look this up: images, crosses and sculptures of saints are covered the last week of Lent... why? Much speculation and differing answers. My favorite is that perhaps even the illiterate need a visual indication that Lent season had arrived.

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