Posts Tagged ‘liturgy’

9:17 am

Sunday Mass at the House of the Virgin Mary

As far as I know, there is no Catholic Church in Kuşadası. The nearest place to attend Mass is the House of the Virgin Mary, above Ephesus, where Mass is said Sunday mornings at 10:30.

There is no direct dolmuş (dolmuşes are the little minivans that serve as buses here) service between Kuşadası and the House, so at a little after 9, I was at the corner to catch the dolmuş to Selçuk, from where I would need to take a taxi. As it happened, there was another passenger heading to Mass, a friendly Irish woman named Liz. We discussed our destination with the dolmuş driver who, in the end, ferried us all the way to the House, waited for us during Mass, and got us back down to the bus station to get a dolmuş back to Kuşadası.

There is a chapel at the site where Mass is held. This is a fairly recent addition, having just been consecrated last year. Apparently, Mass had been said in the House itself, but was constantly being disturbed by tourists.

I was a little surprised that Mass was in English: I had been expecting Turkish, or even, given the need to cater to multilingual pilgrim visitors, Latin. I’m not sure if the English reflects the fact that the core parish community seems to be made up of Anglophone expats or that English is the de facto international language of tourism (if not the Church). At any rate, it made me much more comfortable about the prospect of coming here regularly. Even better was the discovery that in fact some of the local Catholic expats have their own informal minibus service.

There is a spring beneath the House, and its waters are said to have miraculous powers. Adjacent to the faucets for the spring water, there is a prayer wall:

I was more focused on Mass than pictures, but I’ll take more pictures next week. In the meantime, this site has more pictures and information.

9:15 am

St. John of Nepomuk

Last year’s celebration of the feast of St. John of Nepomuk was a modest affair: Vespers at sv. Tomáš followed by a procession to St. John’s statue on Charles Bridge and finishing up with a Benediction at the church of St. Francis on the other side of the bridge.

This year, though, there was a grander celebration. Apparently someone affiliated with the Charles Bridge Museum wants to revive the old tradition of a festival for the feast of St. John. And so this year, there was a Mass at the Cathedral of St. Vitus (with Cardinal Vlk presiding) on Friday, the eve of the feast. Like last year, a procession followed, winding through Malá Strana from the castle complex, across Charles Bridge to the statue of St. John of Nepomuk and thence to St. Francis for Benediction.

It didn’t end there, though. There was a concert, some festival booths, and a sound and light show on the River. Unfortunately, the plaza in front of St. Francis is too small for a proper festival.

The program by Muzeum Karlova Mostu (as translated by Google Translate) gives more details. On the actual feast on Saturday, there was the Vespers service at sv. Tomáš, but no subsequent procession.

5:17 am

Triduum Retreat in Wales

Last year, I mentioned my dissatisfaction with the way in which the Triduum liturgy was handled at sv. Tomaš and speculated that I might opt for a retreat in an English-speaking country this year instead. Well, that’s exactly what I did: I went to St. Beuno’s, a Jesuit retreat house (excuse me, "Spirituality Centre") on the coast in Wales.

St. Beuno’s was originally built as a Jesuit college, and its main claim to fame is that it was home to Gerard Manley Hopkins at the time he resumed writing poetry.

The retreat started on Wednesday and ended Monday morning. The retreat itself was silent, though not individually directed. There was also an eight-day individually directed retreat (IDR) running almost concurrently that started on Thursday. Our group met every morning with the retreat directors (Angela O’Donoghue and Damian Jackson SJ), who gave us material and ideas for prayer for the day. There were about 20 of us in the Triduum retreat and similarly about 20 in the IDR.

The liturgies were really lovely. Quite simple, but very rich, and the materials that Angela and Fr. Damian gave us were well-chosen. The only downside was that, since there’s no parish community attached (although the liturgies were attended by a number of locals who apparently prefer St. Beuno’s to their own parishes), there was no one being received for Baptism or full communion. I did miss that. Indeed, it’s the main reason I’ve never done a Triduum retreat before.

The main entrance:

The rose garden must be lovely later in the year, but it’s rather bleak this time of year. My room was the fourth pair of windows from the left on the third floor.

Looking down from the garden:

The grounds are really lovely, too. The daffodils were in bloom for Easter.

There’s a Lourdes shrine in the garden:

They’ve started installing a labyrinth. It still needs work, but it is functional.

It’s not readily apparent from this picture, but there’s a chapel atop the little tree covered hill in the background:

Getting there requires crossing a sheep pasture. The sheep do not like being disturbed, though you’d think they’d be used to it.

The chapel:

And the interior:

The surrounding countryside is mostly given over to farms and pastureland.

The ocean is barely visible:

I may well go back next Easter (although perhaps for the individually directed retreat instead).

12:39 pm

Corpus Christi

For the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (formerly known as Corpus Christi), sv. Tomáš again had one of these joint Czech / Spanish / English liturgies. The reason for the joint liturgy was to ensure that we would have enough time for a procession after Mass:

We processed from sv. Tomáš to sv. Josef, which we entered and had a brief prayer and hymn in Spanish. From sv. Josef we went on to the Order of Malta church of Panna Marie Pod Retězem (Our Lady Beneath the Chain), where we switched to English for our prayer and hymn.

Aside: I’ve never heard of a devotion to "Our Lady Beneath the Chain". On Googling, the closest I could find was a devotion to Our Lady of the Chain, which originated at the end of the 14th century in Sicily, but apparently made it Malta early on. So I think this is just a confusion of prepositions.

The story in brief is of three young men condemned to die on the gallows. While awaiting their execution, in the church of St. Mary of the Port, they were chained, kept under guard, and the doors of the church were securely locked. That night, the guards that were on duty fell asleep and the three condemned men found themselves at the foot of an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They prayed fervently for deliverance. While they were praying, the chains mysteriously fell to the ground. The doors of the church opened by themselves, and they heard these words coming from the image of the Blessed Virgin: "Go, you are free, do not fear. The Divine Infant Whom I hold in my arms has heard your prayers and has granted your freedom." The prisoners silently walked out of the Church.

When the guards awakened, they went after and, finally, caught up with their prisoners. The men would have been chained again and taken away for execution, had it not been for the people who interceded for them with the King. The King, having heard what had happened, granted them their freedom, saying: "The Blessed Virgin Mary has set them free, so will I."

The final stop on our procession was the Infant of Prague church of Panny Marie Vítězné (Our Lady Victorious), where we finished up in Czech.

As on previous occasions when we’ve had processions, we gave the tourists a thrill.

10:08 am

St. John of Nepomuk

Legend has it that St. John of Nepomuk was martyred by Václav IV of Bohemia (AKA Václav the Drunkard) because the king, believing that his wife was cheating on him, tried to force her confessor, John of Nepomuk, to violate the seal of the confessional. Most reputable sources think that the real reason had to do with a power struggle, with John of Nepomuk thwarting the king’s attempt to hand over the abbacy of a wealthy monastery to a candidate of the king’s choosing. A much less interesting story. According to Wikipedia, "John of Nepomuk is seen by Catholics as a martyr to the cause of defending the Seal of the Confessional, by romantic nationalists as a Czech martyr to imperial interference, and by most historians as a victim of a late version of the inveterate investiture controversy between secular rulers and the catholic hierarchy." He is at any rate very popular, and there’s scarcely a (Catholic) church in Prague without a statue or altar dedicated to him.

His feast is May 16 and it’s celebrated by a joint vesper service with the church of sv. Tomáš and the church of St Francis on the other side of the river, and I attended this year’s service. After vespers at sv. Tomáš, the two congregations made a solemn procession across Charles Bridge:

The procession stopped at the statue of St John of Nepomuk to commemorate his martyrdom:

We ended up at the church of St. Francis for a closing benediction.

As at Palm Sunday, the tourists were fascinated by this quaint custom and pictures aplenty were taken.

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