Notre Dame Basilica
November 23, 2014

Le Seigneur soit avec vous.
* Et avec votre esprit.

Élevons notre cœur.
* Nous le tournons vers le Seigneur.

Rendons grâce au Seigneur notre Dieu.
* Cela est juste et bon.

Why are the recitations of Mass still familiar to me? Moreover, how is it I still know just what's going to be said a split-second later--even when the service is conducted in French?

Lisa and David
There's still an echo in my head of the set calls and responses of Mass that I first learnt in English as a child. Even when I hear those phrases in another language they resonate immediately. Despite that I stopped attending not long after childhood, despite that in recent years I've gone to church only when showing a visitor around town--evidently the Catholic formula is all still up in my brain. Weekly church attendance at a tender age must have permanently etched into my consciousness the words that need to be repeated in unison in response to the priest.

No, I've neither converted, reverted, nor undergone any religious rebirth. Lisa and I went to Mass this morning less to experience anything divine and more to experience the language, history, and architecture of Old Montréal over her visit.

All the familiar trappings were there: the robes; the fragant, smoldering censers swinging from the ends of chains; even a massive pipe organ (which my childhood church did not have) that was played before and at points throughout the service. The choir was out in full force, too. But, the congregants in attendance today seemed far less engaged than what I remember from the church-going days of my youth.

Tiffany, Lisa, and David
Few people throughout the pews sang along. The lyrics were printed right beneath standard musical notation in a pamplet presenting all the prayers and readings of the morning's service. But not many people seemed to be following along either by singing or responding to the words of the priest. Overall attendence itself was thin; many of the people who did come didn't seem to be regulars. More than a few others at Sunday Mass this morning were clearly fellow tourists like me and Lisa, taking photos throughout the church interior upon conclusion of the service.

I suppose a lost sheep like me has neither the gravitas nor authority to comment on how "Mass just isn't the same anymore". But, I did wonder how far into the future such ritual proceedings will carry on.

Gwen, Tiffany, and Lisa
My guests have both flown back to their homes on the west coast. I've just seen Lisa off at YUL. Tiffany left yesterday morning; it was only proper that the three of us bade her farewell over breakfast (at St-Viateur Bagel on Monkland) with Professor Gwen. It was through Tiffany that I first met Gwen back when we were all living in Xinjiang so many years ago. Then, in the roundabout way that the circles that I run in happen to spin, it was through me that Lisa met Tiffany not long thereafter.

I've been happy to see such good friends again. (Not only were they good friends but they were good guests, too: do-all-the-dishes-after-every-meal and bring-top-shelf-bottles-of-gin types of guests!) I'm thrilled to be living in a place once again where I can host when people come to town. But, I confess that I'm utterly exhausted after a full week balancing time around town with friends while keeping up with class.

Time for a long sleep...