Mystery Worshipper: Superthurible
Church: Blessed Sacrament Shrine
Location: Liverpool, England
Date of visit: Saturday, 24 June 2006, 5:40pm
From the outside, this is a modern-looking building, although it has an ancient look inside, including some fantastic stained glass windows.
It is not a parish church but a mass centre... some would say a mass factory! A community of Priests of the Blessed Sacrament lives above the building and maintain an almost perpetual adoration, during the daylight hours.
Blessed Sacrament is in Liverpool city centre, close to Lime Street station. Nothing particularly remarkable - several shops, offices, etc.
A Father Gary, whose surname was not given.
What was the name of the service?Mass (and the end of benediction).
How full was the building?
On entry, I saw that the building was packed to bursting point – so much so that I spent a good 50 minutes standing (other than the obligatory kneeling), which was practicaly the whole of the service.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Not a soul even said hello, although that was perhaps because everyone was so busy saying the divine praise in a Scouse accent.
Was your pew comfortable?
Not only did I have to stand, but I couldn't even lean against the wall, as the shelf behind me made a rather loud creaking noise.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Prayerful. People were joining in the words of the mass and then looking devout while the priest delivered benediciton with the Blessed Sacrament.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father and of the Son" and at this point for some bizarre reason the congregation joined in "and of the Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. No hymn books, no mass books with readings absolutely nothing!
What musical instruments were played?
None, other than a man fiddling with his hearing aid, which squeaked.
Did anything distract you?
A couple of things became annoying as the service progressed. The priest over-emphasised the words at the end of every sentence. And also (everyone's nightmare in a parish) there was a woman who was five words ahead of everyone else. Even the priest smiled as he realised what was happening!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service was rather traditional at first, but had elements of liberalism. It was spoiled for me because there were no hymns, and also because no one seemed interested after communion had taken place. It was like a scene from the Exodus!
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – The priest ennunciated his words extremely well, but in a rather irritating way.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Trusting in God, even when times are difficult. He also spoke about the need to realise our potential to grow and spread the love of God.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The smell of incense lingering in the air from the previous service.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The woman who was ahead of everyone else. It was funny at first, but I began to ask God what I had done to deserve the punishment! Perhaps Purgatory is closer than we think.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Eventually, I managed to talk to the priest. He was polite and spent one or two minutes talking to me. However, he was in a rush, so he didn't want to stay long. He even stopped another woman trying to get back into the sanctuary after she realised she'd left her bag.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Non-existent. Once the church was closed, my friend and I decided to reward ourselves with a pint at a nearby pub.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
3 — In a strange way, the throngs of people spending time with God made me realise how much more I should be doing the same.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. Even with the mass exodus it felt great to be in the presence of so many other Christians.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The smell of incense lingering in the air.