I called Matty yesterday to see if he wanted to attend an Easter mass with me today. Every year I say I'm going to go to experience what it's like but I never do. Matt is not religious at all but I thought he might be up for it. He was so we went.
He found an early morning service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in down town Salt Lake we could attend. Thinking it might be crowded, we got there early and were surprised to get good parking and seating. I warned him on the way there that I woke up with a sticky eye and so not to be surprised if I kept my distance.
A woman on the way in offered to take our picture. "I'm doing the rounds of Easter worship this morning," she said frankly. "I'm Unitarian by faith but I know Deacon Dodge here very well. I think you will enjoy the service."
Regarding the building itself, I learned that the exterior has a Roman style but is Gothic on the inside. Construction began in 1900, was completed nine years later and cost around $344,000 to build. The frescoes, windows, statues, font - everything - was absolutely stunning. This wasn't he first time I had ever been inside but it was the first time I had sat through a service. When I was a child, we lived within walking distance from the Mission San Jose de Guadalupe. I was raised a Mormon but, even so, there was so much Catholic influence in the history and culture of where I grew up that going into a Catholic church stirs up some nostalgia. Today was no exception.
I don't resonate with the vibe of the Catholic faith but I have to say that they observe some of the most beautiful traditions. I love the way the priest swings the censer that diffuses smoke into the air (the smell is incense-like and somewhat comforting), the sung portions of mass are haunting - especially the way the sound echoes up to the high ceilings, I like how the stained-glass windows tell stories from the Bible, and the organ accompaniment is concert-hall-worthy. I observed the devotion and conviction in members of the congregation. Most of all I liked being able to absorb new things about Easter simply by hearing it in someone else's language.
On our way out, I asked Matt what he thought of the service. Referring to the part where you turn to your neighbor, shake hands and wish them peace, he said, "My favorite part was when you gave pink eye to everyone around us."