The End Isn’t Near, It’s Here – Sam Shantz

By July 13, 2008Uncategorized

The title of the final episode of my favourite TV show, and Five Iron Frenzy’s final CD seams fitting for the final leg of this journey, a journey that has gone by too fast to have been 2 months long. Just as you continue to revisit past episodes and classic songs, memories that now seam so far in the distance continue to pop up.

I remember the awe that the cathedrals I first saw in Spain inspired in me, and how I could never have imagined attending one for Sunday morning service. Then, seven weeks latter I was siting in Chartres Cathedral listening to the mass being sung in French. Back in the fall our whole group attended mass at a church in Malaysia. It was hard to know what to think because I couldn’t understand a single word. Sometimes I though I recognized the Apostle’s Creed, or the Lord’s Prayer, but other than that the service flew right by me without a wave, or a look back. This time however, I could understand everything, even sing along. I’ve never been so happy for those 12 years of French immersion in my life. It was incredible, and nothing like I expected. I’ve been attending the Catholic Church in St. Stephen, and still I was surprised by the way mass was conducted in Chartres. It started off which organ music coming out of nowhere. At first it was creepy, then reverent, and finally classic, like a Mozart symphony or a Harry Potter soundtrack. Then there was signing, one voice in French, coming through loudspeakers fixed to the stone pillars. Next the priest entered, preceded by incense (it smelt quite bad at first, but by the end of the service, I had gotten used to it). He sang, a girl sang, he sang, more incense, scripture reading, she sang, more incense, Apostle’s Creed, he talked, I left. That’s pretty much how the service went. I was unable to stay for the whole time because we had to leave, but I got a pretty good taste no the less.

I wonder how different it would have been back when the cathedral was first built, all those centuries in the past. when there where no pews, and the Nave was filled with illiterate peasants. When there was no sound system, and no organ. When it was done in Latin, not in French. Would there still have been incense? How loud would the choir had been? Would there have been a choir? Would the Priest have sung? What would he have said? How different would it be? I don’t have any answers to these questions, but as i continue to see new and different churches I continue to wonder what it was like back then.