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  1287: Divine Redeemer, Colorado Springs, USA

Divine Redeemer, Colorado Springs, USA

Mystery Worshipper: Harriet M. Welsch.
The church: Divine Redeemer, Colorado Springs, USA.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: The church is rather modern, with the sanctuary in a wrap-around style with four large pew sections. The art work is rather 70s, or maybe it's now retro.
The church: I was impressed that the church was sponsoring a blood drive and they have a food pantry for the needy every Tuesday. Also, Divine Redeemer seems a true neighborhood church. Many people, including me, arrived on foot or bike.
The neighborhood: This is older Colorado Springs, filled with 1900s Victorian homes and tree-lined, quiet streets, just blocks east of downtown Colorado Springs. There are old businesses (barber shops, dry cleaners, corner groceries) mingled with the homes and the churches. Divine Redeemer also has a thriving Catholic school attached.
The cast: Rev. Jim Klein was the celebrant, and Dave Guyslinger, a brand new deacon, gave the homily.
The date & time: Saturday, June 3rd at 5.00pm.

What was the name of the service?
"Vigil of Pentecost" (the Saturday evening before Pentecost Sunday).

How full was the building?
Mostly full. The sanctuary is large and spread out, so there were quite a few people there.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
No, not when I first arrived, but before mass started, the choir had us greet each other, so we all shook hands and said hello. We also shook hands during the kiss of peace, and everyone was very friendly, though no one asked where I was from or such.

Was your pew comfortable?
Well... it was another Catholic church with just wood to sit on, but the kneeler was padded! Is wood alone a Catholic thing? I can't remember.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was murmuring and talking; the choir was "warming up" and when they finished, their microphones were on and their conversations could be heard throughout the sanctuary. I actually found it heartening.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening, everybody. Tonight we celebrate Pentecost, the birth of the Church."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Divine Redeemer Catholic Community songbook. Also the Breaking Bread 2006 missalette and songbook.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano, tambourine, and a "rain stick" for one song (Rain on Us Holy Spirit". The tambourine was, well, off beat. Nice, but off beat. Again, I found it heartening for some reason. There were 10 people singing up front, one man and nine women.

Did anything distract you?
Some of the older parishioners were on oxygen. Having said that, the incense also distracted me. I was worried about the respiratory problems associated with breathing incense. Divine Redeemer swung around a lot of incense. Coincidentally, there was a lot of coughing after the incense swinging.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Pretty upbeat – the music was modern and the congregation clapped during several songs. The congregation seemed genuinely happy.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
13 minutes. What happened to the seven minute homily of my childhood? Since when did mass start lasting more than an hour? How very Protestant of them.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – The newly ordained deacon gave the sermon. Without being too theatrical, he had some of the same nuances of, say, James Cagney: the head-tilting and inflections.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit and how the deacon knew Divine Redeemer would be his family's home because the Spirit was evident here. Now he is being sent by the Spirit to a new parish. He used several scriptural references.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I was so happy to see an altar girl and I was thrilled that she rang the bells during the consecration of the eucharist. I'd heard a rumor that the bells were out, so imagine my surprise to hear them rung by the girl. I was an altar girl in the 70s and my favorite assignment was bell-ringing.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The incense drove me crazy! It was over the top. The deacon swung it at all four pew sections, for the Gospel reading, down the aisle, etc. It choked me up. Also, the deacon and his wife were given a gift, which was a statue of Jesus, and all I could think of was a lawn gnome. I mean, do people really want gifts like that?

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing... as usual. I am starting to get a complex. I hung around, considered signing up for the blood drive, lingered over the food baskets, perused the bulletin, and no one seemed to notice me.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was no food. And I was hungry! After all, it was 5 o'clock mass.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I can see myself attending mass at Divine Redeemer regularly. I felt comfortable and at home. The fact that I don't believe in all the Catholic doctrine could be an issue, though. If it's okay with them, I'll be there.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Glad to be a Christian, and glad to feel a part of Catholicism again. After having many complicated feelings about mass, I was pleased to feel comfort and peace in the church.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Just one thing? Okay, one thing. The freakin' incense! It's still stuck in my olfactory nerves! Maybe this is like a peanut allergy or something. Is the incense mandatory? Or just a lot of fun?
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