Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Nativity of St John the Baptist

Montréal is an incredible place. Just walking down the street is a novel experience for those formed in the mores of Orange Ontario. Beer and wine appear in convenience stoor windows, the pedestrian traffic signals are guidelines, and somewhere a spliff is burning. My worldlier friends describe it as "the only place you can touch the strippers" which sounds a little like one of those legal urban myths that you'd get in a bubble gum wrapper. (It is said, for example, that the Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth must provide a bag of oats for your horse). In middle school, the grade 8s boasted about the tattoos they would get as we stopped at Tim Horton's franchises in Kingston. After the fact, none owned up to having done such a thing, though a few went home sporting short-lived piercings.

Today was the patronal festival of Québec and the Anglican Church of Canada. A Solemn High Mass (sans procession or Te Deum) was celebrated in English and French (well, Latin and Greek if you count the choral parts) according to the rite of the prayer book of 1959 and the traditional Western Rite at the Church of St John the Evangelist. A lovely blue and gold High Mass set was used, complete with maniples and a humeral veil for the subdeacon. The birettas which I saw for the first time at St John's were not in evidence. Hymns were from the English Hymnal, and the Epistle read but the Gospel monotoned rather hurriedly. A satisfying lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs followed. Home tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to be in a city (and Province) where there is no history of Protestant puritanism and the culture is so "latin". Restaurants and bars are full of people and the streets are swarming until 3 a.m. It is said that people in Toronto live to work, but in Montreal they work to live. The city still seems to be a forest of church steeples on very large churches and various religious buildings, many quite oppressive looking and some quite ugly, but it's a reminder of the time when the Roman Church was "everything in Quebec" and religion was the whole focus of society, mostly because it was the only institution that the French people could call their own. It's pretty much dead now, but the atmosphere, if not the reality, of a once Catholic culture is still in evidence. It's interesting to think that there was one religion common to all, even though it was so institutional. But these are a people who have never seen eating, drinking, partying, etc., as something to feel slightly guilty about. And Montreal is really quite stunning in it's beauty. Toronto can't hold a candle to it.