Day 8: Sunday, March 22, 2015
Another brrrrr morning. The power went off and the main fuse re-set. Guess that happens here too. Off to Mass.
The church was a short drive away. Again, a very modern structure – high white walls, the floor spread wide, bright, clean and airy with pews surrounding the altar. Very neat. Very minimal. The priest – Fr. Jose – was a Passionist Father from India!! The Mass, while mainly familiar did differ from what I was used to. The standing, kneeling, sitting, always, differs from congregation to congregation but what was really different for me was the recitation of the psalm, the prayers of the faithful and communion! All common prayers – the Creed, the Our Father, the responses, for example - were projected onto a screen. After the First Reading, the lector invited us to recite the Psalm, and that’s what the congregation did: everyone recited the entire psalm, through all the verses, with the response only at the beginning and end. No singing. The same lector did both the readings too.
At the Prayers of the Faithful, there were the usual invocations for Pope, Bishop, Priest and Nuns, and petitions local, national and international. But the final intention was for all the dead and their names were projected on the screen. A long quiet moment was provided to allow us to pray before the invocation was intoned and the response - a fervent ‘Lord, hear our prayer’ – raised by everyone there.
At the preparation of the bread and wine, I was amazed to see three large chalices placed on the altar in addition to the main chalice used by the priest. A large jug of wine was handed over by the server and the contents distributed between the chalices. Amazement grew. After the elevation and before Communion was distributed, the Eucharistic Ministers stepped up to the altar, each one received Holy Ccommunion and a chalice! Here, the host was offered by the Priest and then one stepped over to the EM for a sip from the cup. Communion under both species is apparently the norm.
The singing was beautiful, here people sing soprano with the occasional tenor thrown in. No base notes! My kind of music. Some hymns and Mass parts were familiar and so I joined in. Heartily. No nudges or funny looks so I guess I was on note too. Here the ‘kiss of peace’ is a handshake and two little boys boxed each other!! The priest, still vested, greeted each one with a handshake, after Mass.
And what did the sermon say? There is a time and purpose for all things. A grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it bears fruit or supports life. Christ came in His time to fulfill a purpose – to glorify the Father. We too, have a purpose in our time. To be the grains of wheat that die to ourselves to support life in each other and so bear witness to our God.
And then we spent the better part of the rest of the day at the Doncaster Shopping Center – upmarket, large and great fun to explore. Had a water melon juice with ginger and sour lime just like back home except that the ginger has a much stronger tang here. Lunched at a café – smoked salmon and salad between large slices of brown bread, followed by an unusual dessert (sponge cake on the outside, a strawberry mousse on the inside, topped with raspberry jam and icing). It had an exotic name to match. Can’t remember it. Lunch was washed down with a pot of tea.
The journey home was punctuated by a visit to the largest liquor warehouse I have ever been in. Every conceivable brand of every kind of liquor. Tippler’s paradise!
Dinner at home. My cousin tried out a new recipe. Thai fried rice. Delicious.
Enjoyed a warm night under the comforter. And woke to a 22 deg morning that was cloudy and overcast!! A funny contrast to the sunny and bright 8 degs experienced earlier in the week.
One week down. Three to go. So what’s Melbourne like? Clean, neat, courteous, considerate – no jumping queues, traffic rules are obeyed, toilets are left clean for the next user, staff greet and smile and apologies are answered, ‘No problem!’ The localities are so delightfully pretty with their picture postcard landscaping and greenery. Outside the city, not a single highrise. Everything is on the level – little cottages and houses in their own gardens on a tree lined street. And it’s quiet. You can hear the bellbird ring!!
The downside? What’s not to like??!!
So, there you go mate!!!!