Thursday, September 8, 2011

churches and such

One of our sightseeing stops for our orientation was to this old church around 2 hours outside of Hanoi. I really, really wish I could tell you the significance of it, but it was really, really hot and humid outside and it was sooo hard to listen to the tour guide. I do know that the architecture of the church was meant to merge Western church architecture with Eastern temple architecture so it would be more at home in the communities. Catholicism seems to be more prevalent here than one might expect. There are around 7 million Catholics, 10 million Buddhists, and the rest are "no religion", but EVERYONE is superstitious. 
grotto behind church

I also adventured to Mass on Sunday. The main downtown area is actually centered around a cathedral. They have an English speaking mass on Sundays and it was not too far of a walk so I decided to check it out.

cathedral in HCMC

altar--it was all lit up during mass but they immediately shut the lights off after it was over
The use of neon lighting seems to be a popular choice of decoration in the church. The altar/crucifix was lit up with bright white neon lights, as were all the little side statues along the church.
neon Mary
Now is the time where I explain exactly how this Mass went down. I went in with an open was actually extremely crowded, mainly with Vietnamese people which I was surprised considering there were other masses on Sunday in Vietnamese.  It seems to be a way that they can easily practice their English, especially the listening side of everything. The church also provided TVs every where with lyrics of all of the songs in English, as well as all of the readings and responses in English. They handed out little programs: the day I went, it was titled: "The '23th' Sunday in Ordinary Time".

And how can I forget to mention that there was no AC. So it was quite stuffy but I sat near a fan so I was able to grin and bear it. Oh, and you know during Communion when everybody files out orderly in a nice line and lets each row in front of them go first? Yeah, there is none of that here. As soon as the Communion song starts, it is a mad house rush up to the front, whether you are in the front row or the very back.  However, one thing that will be difficult to adapt to is the fact that there are NO KNEELERS and I kid you not, people actually kneel on the concrete floor during the kneeling parts of the service.
and you thought your life was hard!
But all in all, I did enjoy it and think I will be back. I have to say, out of everywhere I have been so far on my own, whether it be trying new restaurants or looking for a place to buy towels, church has been the most comfortable place for me thus far. It is amazing that no matter where you go in the world, everyone can go to church and things are done pretty much exactly the same. 

Just wanted to share that with everyone. I can't believe I have been here for almost 3 weeks now. I am still adjusting but it is getting better every day :)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laurel,

    It looks like you are finding your way. I thought it was interesting, when you stated that it is nice to know that wherever you go there is comfort in knowing some things stay the same. Church is always a refuge and I have told my kids the same thing. When I was France we went to mass at Notre Dame I said it was so nice to know that I couldn't understand what they were saying but I knew what they were doing and why. There is comfort in that. God is always with you and so are your family and friends. Your journey is ours. Never forget how much you are loved by all!