|385: Eglise des Peres Carmes, Brussels, Belgium|
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Mystery Worshipper: Leo.
The church: Eglise des Peres Carmes, Brussels, Belgium this is a Carmelite church of Our Lady.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: It looks like a typical continental Roman Catholic church built about a century ago with its characteristically ornate statues. However, we met in a modern, light room to the right of the high altar, with seats in the round, which was particularly conducive to participatory worship.
The church: The friars are joined by several ordinary people for the daily round of worship.
The neighbourhood: It is on a busy boulevard near the Avenue Louise, where ladies heading for the designer boutiques jostle with the kids from the fast-food joints.
The cast: I do not know who the five concelebrants were.
What was the name of the service?
Holy Mass. It was a Friday evening service for the feast of St Lawrence, deacon and martyr.
How full was the building?
60 people which made the chapel very full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, it was a chair with plenty of leg-room.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Although people kept coming in and I was twice asked to move up to make room for others, it was calm.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"A la page..." which introduced a chant.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
A red book with chants and psalmody.
What musical instruments were played?
It was all unaccompanied, but very good singing.
Did anything distract you?
A mobile phone went off during the eucharistic prayer and the owner was clearly too embarrassed to turn it off and thereby identify herself, so the principal celebrant stopped the prayer in order to request its silencing.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 He remained seated and spoke, slowly, thoughfully and without notes.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
As far as my French allowed me to understand, it was about God taking ordinary material like bread and wine, and ordinary people like St Lawrence, and transforming them as a foretaste of his new creation.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The mixture of ages (including very well-behaved children) and races present.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I forgot the French word for "peace" during the hand-shaking, so used the English word but later remembered that I had seen the tourist attraction of the "Mannekin Pis" and wondered if some people thought I was greeting them with a request to urinate.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I had to leave early to get back to my hotel for dinner.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Everyone raised their hands with the concelebrants for the Lord's Prayer.