I went for mass at Cathedral of the Good Shepherd for the first time yesterday. Yup that is after 4 over years of being a Catholic. Of course I had a visit prior to that but the overall feeling to be there as a visitor and as a mass-goer is vastly different.
It also felt like travelling back to the past before the modern era. The high ceiling, the yellow lights (which resembles lights from candles), the old creaky pews (no cushion for the knees ouch!), rectangular rather than a squarish worship area, the church pipe organ, fans and many other things simply evoke the feeling of being in a holy place.
2 things which stood out the most for me is the music and the painting behind the altar. It is nice to have the organist playing worship music while the people who come early wait for the mass to start. It is definitely nicer than having the rosary and people chit chatting as in other churches usually. With the nice soothing music, it provides a more condusive atmosphere for me to pray and prepare for the mass. The pipe organ itself is capable of making fantastic sounds. The counter melody (which sounds like a bell!) during Sanctus sounded heavenly to me. Too bad the Gloria was recited. I imagined how great it would be if it was sung as usually Gloria is another "high" point during Mass.
The painting behind the altar is simple: a crucified Jesus on a blue background. The blue background has gradient from light to darker blue on the outside. Despite the simplicity, I thought the painting was impressive, more impressive than typical church stained glasses.
However, there is one thing which kinda shocked me and that happened during Holy Communion. I had no idea that "queueing" culture is something modern. I was kinda lost when suddenly everyone just literally rushed to form a line during Communion. Was it the culture there? Am I supposed to wait for my pew turn or should I follow suit and just rushed? Some people were actually waiting for their pew turn too so I am still not sure what was going on.
It is a beautiful place which unfortunately is a bit dilapidated. The walls are yellowing and some parts are flaking off. I see wires on the wall which is an eyesore. I know that there is a plan to renovate the building and so far only about $7m collected from a target of $30m. Seeing how little the crowd for Sunday morning mass and that quite a large percentage are actually visitors and tourists, I wonder how long it will take to reach the targetted $30m. I think the local Catholic community should do something about this. There are rich people out there in various parishes. I find it ironic when many parishes have nicer buildings than the Cathedral which is supposedly the "main" Church of the Archdiocese. At each parish, there are tonnes of fund raising activities for respective parish projects so why is it so difficult to get $30m for the Cathedral??