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691: Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois
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Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago
Mystery Worshipper: Redpriest.
The church: Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: Gothic revival with rose window. Large, but not as grand as St. Pat's in New York. Quite homely, especially with the wooden ceiling.
The church: It seemed to me that many in the congregation were tourists, since they were constantly looking around in awe of the church interior and the choir above them. If they were regulars, they should have gotten used to those by now, unless the church had just been remodeled and the choir created... quite unlikely.
The neighbourhood: Located just two blocks from Chicago's Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave.) shopping district, two blocks from the historic Water Tower, and four blocks from the John Hancock building – all tourist destinations in Chicago.
The cast: A bishop, though not Cardinal George himself, presided over the service. The cathedral choir up in the choir loft and the cantor in front led the singing.
What was the name of the service?
11am Holy Eucharist, fifth Sunday in ordinary time.

How full was the building?
Full to the brim.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
No one welcomed me personally, probably because everyone, including myself, was hurrying in as the processional hymn started.

Was your pew comfortable?
Typical pew. Not bad. Hey, it served its purpose: to provide me a place to sit.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
I was late as it is.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Worship Hymnal, third edition.

What musical instruments were played?
A Titanic organ that had pipes above and below the choir loft.

Did anything distract you?
The presider starting every prayer with a chant-like tone, but then receding back to plain speech. I'm a fan of the sung mass, and this only tantalized me, giving me false hopes. But I hope in vain.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Catholic cathedral worship following all the rubrics set by Vatican II, word for word. Latin was actually sung at various points, which is rare in American Catholic churches nowadays.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
10 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – Typical Roman Catholic sermon.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Job and his trust for the Lord in times of adversity and how we must follow suit in trusting God's mysterious ways.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The choir, like heavenly hosts overflowing on their lofty loft, delivering modern cathedral music à la John Taverner.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The congregation being Roman Catholic: not singing. They were probably struck dumb by the great music.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone bolted out of the door, like tourists hurrying to get to their next destination. I myself had to catch the next train home.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was no hint of there being coffee... considering the obvious logistics and the reality that the multiplication of the loaves won't simply happen for a throng of tourists, this isn't something one would expect. Besides, that would make Holy Name more like soup kitchen than a mass, since a bunch of homeless people frequent the area, waiting like vultures – not that you could blame them.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – The music is better than in most Catholic churches where they try to what they're not (folksy campfire folks), but it felt a little bit too tense in there despite the wooden trappings.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, absolutely.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The bishop doing his quasi-chant.
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