Mass today at La Madeleine, which is, excuse me, a sort of crazy place.
“Crazy” in the sense that its origins lie in part in blustering Napoleonic grandiosity. Regime change and time did its work, transforming into a church, now associated with Benedictines.
So, yes, crazy in the sense that so much of “Catholic” = “crazy” – in that it’s grace building on nature, and that stuff (called “life”) can get crazy sometimes.
We had stopped by earlier in the week just to see it. I was unprepared. I was…surprised.
(My current header is from the doorway at La Madeleine)
And returned today for Mass because it’s right on our Metro line. An easy 12 minute or so ride from our apartment. Which didn’t stop us from being late, but hey.
It was also advertised as a Gregorian Mass – and since the parish seems to have quite a choral program (Verdi’s Requiem last weekend, Mozart’s coming soon…and so on), I was interested to hear it.
The music was well-performed, but the rag-tag nature of the structure of it all was an excellent and frustrating example of Liturgical Mix n’ Match. It’s just jolting to be constantly swinging between organ-accompanied chant, spoken responses, some more contemporary responses (it seems that singing the responses to the Prayers of the Faithful is standard here in France – at least every Mass I’ve attended has done it so) and then some pretty wild organ improvisations – all framing a fairly casual style of presiding.
Mass was not packed as it had been in Sacre Coeur last week, but I’d say the cavernous space was almost half-full of worshipers, including a noticeable number of younger parents with children.
(Note: there is an American parish in Paris. It’s not super convenient for us, although I had thought we would go there at least once. It might or might not work out. I’m okay with just sticking with French Masses. Or Latin. That way, I won’t know if the priest is ad-libbing some liturgical stylings and it won’t test my patience. Obviously if we hit a Latin Mass, the ad-libbing wouldn’t e a problem at all. We read over the Scriptures before we go (although that wasn’t necessary today – at La Madeleine, the Mass aide had the readings in English as well as French, Spanish and Italian. ))
Yesterday, we stumbled upon noon prayer at Sacre Coeur – prayed by the Poor Clares associated with the parish. Tourists surging around the periphery – and if you go, you see how accurate a description that is – streaming around and around, while the sisters sang their simple French-language office. There are a zillion different ways to evangelize, and making your tourist-destination church a place of living public prayer around the clock is just one of them.
(…applies to non-touristed churches as well….)