So today, at an initial moment, was the dead opposite of yesterday! However, during Mass I realized how similar today was to yesterday.
This morning, I walked up the steep steps leading to the church of St. Emery, opened the doors, and my breath was taken away!
WOW!!! It was painted with giant murals above the altar and across the ceiling! The stained glass stood tall from almost floor to ceiling with depictions of a monk-like man in different scenes…I am assuming that this man was St. Emery! It was a beautiful and bright welcoming church set high on a hill on a busy street.
I had chosen this 11am Mass on purpose. The Mass was being said in HUNGARIAN! There are about 13 different languages for masses in the diocese and this was the start of the ones I am going to visit!
I arrived 20 minutes early and found a seat. There were about 4 or 5 groups of women speaking rapidly in a language I would have never recognized. I knew I was less than a mile from BJ’s Wholesale in Bridgeport, yet I felt like I had stepped into a church in the middle of Europe somewhere!
During the Mass I listened without understanding a word of what was being said. It didn’t matter to me because by doing this I was able to sit and think and observe the church, the people, and the ornate surroundings I was in. It really was beautiful.
As strange as it was to compare this Mass to Saturday morning’s Mass, there wasn’t that much difference. There was something soothing about being at peace, alone with some strangers who were speaking a foreign language, saying prayers that had unfamiliar words attached to very familiar patters, in a big, painted church on the morning of June 1st. In the similar way to the day before, it felt “stripped down” in a strange way. It felt peaceful even with the beautiful paintings and distractions around me. And it felt very soothing to hear and know the rhythm of the Mass, the cadence of its parts – all chanted in a foreign language, that would flow into the familiar and comfortable patterns we all know as “church”.
After Mass, a friendly woman approached me and welcomed me to their church. She was excited to hear I was just visiting and wanted me to return. When asked, I told her I lived in Norwalk and went to St. Philip, but I added that I had been to St. Ladislaus and how beautiful that Hungarian church was. She introduced me to the priest and told him what I had said. He had been the priest there for years!!! And…he remembered the Miller family who I have been friends with forever.
Ah….sometimes things seem a lot more unfamiliar than they actually are.
It was a beautiful church!!