Balkan Reflections

This blog has been set up to assist in communicating with friends and family while we are in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Location: Ontario, Canada

Striving to a better day.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ahhh. Sunday. Okay, a little late.

Today was the girls’ and my first solo bus trip. We made it to Mass and back with no problems at all!

Mass in our little chapel is a bit different than at home, aside from the fact that it is in Croatian.

As it is our second Mass here, I was starting to get a feel for how things go. I was actually surprised last week how well I managed to follow their mass-book. We have missalettes from home to allow us to read the readings and Gospel in English.

For the Ordinary, some of the tunes are actually sung to the same tunes as we have at home!

The congregation is not big, but then neither is the chapel, so this week it was rather crowded. The baby was miserable, so #2 daughter and I spelled each other off walking him around to try to keep him happy.

A funny story though. The evening before, dh and I had been to the store to get a few things for the Canadian Thanksgiving get together we were having. I realized that I didn’t know how to ask for ‘sage’. So I didn’t get it.

While I was traipsing around with the baby on Sunday morning, I was examining the garden outside the church. What should I see in the garden but sage? Father Karlo was happy to have me take some home.

We arrived fairly early for Mass this week. This allowed me to enter the chapel and kneel in prayer before Mass. The practice here is to enter the chapel in silence, and stand in reverent silence/prayer before sitting down. With most people standing, it makes it impossible for one to kneel!

Pretty much everyone sings. Reception of Communion is on the tongue. Most women where skirts, but a couple wear jeans. Most men, particularly older ones, wear suit jackets. This past Sunday, our children were three of the four children present. Last week, all the children were ours.

At the end of Mass, there are prayers recited, some before the Final Blessing and some after. I asked Fr. Karlo this week what the prayers were. He said that some of the prayers were for a parishioner who had died. He said the other prayer was the “English Greeting”.

Hmmm. English Greeting. I try to be fairly “up” on liturgy and prayers, but this puzzled me, especially since the prayer was not in English, and being Anglophone myself, I’d never heard of it.

Then I realized that we had been the victim of the same confusion that struck early newcomers to what was to become Britain. Those men asked who the blond blue eyed people they were seeing were. When they were told ‘Angles’, they thought the word was ‘angels’.

They prayer being recited after Mass was The Angelus!

After Mass, those parishioners who wish gather to take coffee. This is slightly mis-leading. What is offered first is the local ‘poison’ confected from plums called rakija. As one of the English speaking parishioners says, it makes good disinfectant. This week, I passed, after having been initiated last week!

The girls drink juice and I wait for coffee and attempt to socialize. Most of the don’t speak English. The second language here is German, of which I do know a very little, so that helps. Our baby son helps too, as everyone wants to talk to him!

Last week, I saw a woman eating a fruit I couldn’t identify as we were waiting for coffee. It turns out it was a fresh fig. There is a fig tree growing on the church property! It needs to be protected in Winter, but it appears to be very healthy.

It is interesting attending Mass in a language which is not my own. I have often heard arguments made that people cannot understand the Mass if it is not in their own language. This is the old ‘chestnut’ dragged out to justify non-use of Latin in the Mass.

I’ve long held an opinion that this is nonsense. I believed that WILL (combined of course with good teaching) has a lot to do with understanding the Mass, whether it is in one’s own language or in another language. I think one must also accept that there are aspects to the Mass that, short of divine intervention, cannot be understood in ANY language.

I am now adding experience to my opinion. So far, my opinion has not changed. We’ll see how I feel about it in a couple of months!


Post a Comment

<< Home