Sunday, August 8, 2010

Visiting the Cathedral and a Question about the Creed

When we were in San Francisco last weekend I was a little bit torn about where to attend Mass on Sunday morning before we hurried to begin the long drive home. With quite a few beautiful churches to decide between I was tempted to skip attending Mass at the cathedral and take Sadie and Maggie to one of the lovely old churches. I know that it wouldn't really matter where we went, because the Mass is what's important, but since trips to the city are few and far between (it was a year since the last time I'd been down to visit for my five year college reunion) I wanted to take them somewhere special. We've been to the cathedral in San Jose, and we finally decided to go to Saint Mary's of the Assumption, the cathedral in San Francisco.

After viewing the cathedral from the outside it's really hard for me to imagine anyone describing it as "aesthetically pleasing" much less beautiful. Paul has explained that it's supposed to look like a cross from the air, but that he's heard people say that it looks more like the inside of a washing machine from higher elevations. I was pleasantly surprised by the inside (when compared with the outside). It isn't something I would have ever dreamt up, but it wasn't the horrible cement blob that I imagined having seen the outside. And Sadie was, thankfully, impressed into silence. She sat looking at the stained glass that runs up to form a brightly lit cross on the ceiling.

There was one tantrum outside because she wanted to stand at the edge of the railing (and didn't want to hold my hand) and the railing was not designed by someone who had children in mind (when Paul saw it he said something along the lines of "they must not have many kids here..." It's a drop that's a minimum of one story with a huge gap between the ground and the start of the railing.). Other than that though, things went really well.

The Mass itself was beautiful. There weren't many people there (maybe other Catholics who attend Mass on Sunday mornings prefer the more traditional looking churches too?), which was a bit surprising, but lots of tour groups walked by and peered in.

Yet one part of the Mass left me with a question and I thought I'd ask it here. When it was time for the Profession of Faith we started to recite the Creed. At least Paul and I did. The rest of the Church, with the exception of the priest and maybe a small handful of the people who were there, were silent. I had a moment where I glanced up from making sure Maggie and Sadie were happy and quiet to make sure that we were supposed to be reciting it. I think there might have been two other people in the area surrounding us that's mouths were moving. Everyone else just stood there silently... So, here's the question: At your parish do most people say the Creed out loud?

To answer my own question for our own parish: in our little church (which has numbers many Sundays similar to the number at the nine o'clock mass we attended at the cathedral... which struck me as kind of sad since our town only has a few thousand people...) pretty much everyone does. People who don't know the words look in their missiles. The entire church fills with voices professing their faith. It just struck me as odd that it was so silent at that point during Mass at the cathedral...


  1. That Cathedral is rather different looking. I don't really like the "modern" or mega-church looking ones. But the inside is definitely better than the exterior.

    I will say that at all of the Parishes I have attended Mass at (and I'd say I've been visiting to probably over 20 different Parishes during my 4 years as Catholic) it is not silent during the Creed. I know in general there are some people who choose not to participate in the Mass (which I don't understand) but most of the time the majority is participating. Now singing? That's a different story, and one that annoys me.

  2. Our church sometimes says it; sometimes it doesn't and sometimes it just renews baptismal promises. Today I think we didn't say it or the baptismal promises. I've never understood why.

  3. I thought it was to be said allowed as a public profession of faith. I have lived all over the US as a navy wife and have never been to a Mass where there was silence during the creed. Wow...interesting.

  4. How odd about the Creed! In any parish I've been to (and we've been to plenty, all over) the people always join in, with one or two holdouts, perhaps.

    We've not yet visited the Cathedral in San Francisco, but did go to Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland with our daughter and son-in-law. Though I've heard it described as a giant womb (and other, less genteel anatomical references) to me, it resembles a giant crystal wastebasket from the outside; lovely, but definitely unusual. The interior has lots of lovely wood and is, indeed, full of light, but the huge Jesus (digital? some kind of mesh? I don't know) was disconcerting.

    Bishop Cordileone said Mass and greeted people outside; there were clearly bodyguard-types nearby, which raised all kinds of questions in my mind (threats?) He seemed to be a kindly, pleasant man. (I love that there are health and legal clinics for the poor and uninsured. Way to go, Oakland diocese!)

  5. My experience may be different because the only Catholic church I ever attended was built after Vatican II and does not have a crucifixion over the altar (to the surprise of my husband who grew up in New Mexico). I'm used to everyone saying the Creed, but on the singing it's about 50/50.

    I love to sing, so I'd sing along every time.

  6. Most people say it aloud in our parish, including the priest who wears a microphone (to lead us).

    We usually sit toward the back in case Hubby needs to duck out with Bean, and we can hear pretty much everyone reciting the Profession of Faith.

    Were people spread out? Perhaps the largeness of the cathedral made you more aware of your own voices rather than hearing others who were a bit away from you.

  7. Ours does.

    The Parish I went to in Lubbock had that modern look to it. The outside was actually kinda cool cause it was built into a hill, but inside.. It reminded me a lot of protestant churches... not too surprising since SJN is known for the number of converts lol.

  8. I've never been anywhere where it wasn't said aloud, even in some quite progressive parishes. Our former pastor occasionally skipped it if he had a Mass he knew was going to run long, but that was extremely rare. He also politically corrected it by skipping the men in "for us men..." The current pastoral staff (we have 4 priests at the moment for two parishes) not only says the whole creed properly, with the congregation saying it along with them, but also bow at the place in the creed where they are supposed to bow (was conceived of the Holy Spirit and became man), however, very, very, very few parishoners do the bow.

  9. Perhaps many of the attendees weren't Catholic? They might have been there to see the cathedral and decided to stay for Mass.


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