It was a great opportunity for me to attend a worship service in a Roman Catholic Church which is quite different from the Protestant church that I belong to. Roman Catholic Church is known as Roman because of its historical association with Rome and the Pope. Members of this church are known as Catholics all over the world and the main seat of Catholicism is the Vatican City in Rome, where Pope is the spiritual head. Catholicism is different from the Protestant and Anglican system, mainly because of the beliefs, liturgy, theology and doctrinal practices. However the central belief that God came into this world in the form of His Son Jesus Christ, is common.
When I stepped inside the Catholic church I was totally in awe of the architecture and ambience. The walls were full of drawings of various biblical stories and events, and very colorful. There were inscriptions and verses written from the Bible. As I entered, the whole church was reverberating of the prayers and chants of the congregation and the priests. There were few prayers in pure Latin; however the main language used was English. I found it quite unlike my Protestant church where the building and architecture in itself is a bit different, with no pictures or drawings. My church building is more simple and plain; however we have a few important gospel verses written in a few places in English.
There were four priests or fathers (as they are commonly called) at the altar, who took turns to say the prayers, the Creed, and in giving blessings and benediction to the congregation. The main part of their public worship service is the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, when the priest invites the members to take part in the Holy Sacrament (i.e. the bread and wine, symbolizing the body and blood of Christ respectively). I saw young children also receiving the sacrament which is in contrast to my church where mostly young people above 16-18 years of age, who have been confirmed and baptized as full members of the church, participate in Communion.
What I found absolutely new was that prayers were being offered to the Virgin Mary, Christ’s mother. Catholics consider Virgin Mary as a saint and God’s mother, unlike us who only know of her as a virgin lady who gave birth to Jesus Christ. Prayers were chanted to Mother Mary in the Catholic church as a ritual and I saw people lighting candles and bowing down before the statue of Mary. Catholics even believe that Mary didn’t die a human death; rather she was lifted up mind, body and soul completely into heaven.
The whole service was full of different kinds of prayers, songs and some Bible readings also. The sermon given by one of the priests was on the prodigal son and how forgiving his father was, just like our Heavenly Father. The congregation was exhorted to follow the example of the forgiving father and be forgiving and kind to one another in all respects. In the end everyone knelt down and said the Lord’s Prayer together. This was similar to our church worship also.
On the whole it was a wonderful opportunity for me to experience a worship service quite different to the one I am used to. I observed the different practices and ways of worship, and could relate whatever was similar to my church service also.
Believe. 2012. Roman Catholic Church, Catholicism. April 12, 2012.