26 December 2006

Apostlite Peetruse ja Pauluse Kogudus

At last, inside the Cathedral of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the only Catholic church in Tallinn, it felt like Christmas. From the plywood manger scene outside to the lingering incense clouds inside, here was the joyful Christmas that I had not yet really seen, smelled, or felt.
Bishop Philippe Jourdan, a Frenchman, said Mass in Estonian (his sermon was little long for any language), and we sang the "Gloria," the "Holy, Holy, Holy," and the "Lamb of God" in Latin. The male cantor was excellent, and the accompanying, mostly male choir it sounded like, had a bit of a funky African folk rhythm in them. A woman sang a beautiful song at communion, and I wished that, throughout Estonia, they'd move the damn choirlofts to the front of the church so we could see who was singing. No one applauded at the end of Mass, though. In fact, many people knelt back down to pray.
Interestingly, right before the final blessing, there was some adoration of the Infant Jesus. Folks got in line like they were going to communion again, but they went to kiss the statue of the Baby Jesus, which the bishop held in his hands. It was a little too much like idol worship for me. So I just watched to see where people kissed the statue; the up-turned toe, the knee, the back of the hand, and the forehead were popular spots.