Recently, I had a chance to attend the St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church. Before I have entered the Church, I believed that attending Catholic Mass would be almost identical to other services I was attending before in terms of my religion. Nevertheless, I have faced the different atmosphere from the very first steps I walked through the front doors. The church I decided to visit was named in honor of Maximilian Kolbe, who envisioned a number of missionary centers around the world and was proclaimed to be a “Patron Saint of the difficult century.” Despite the life challenges and difficult conditions he experienced on a regular basis, the thing that helped him to overcome all the life difficulties was his strong religion and sincere belief in God. In fact, this belief gave him the dignity to live and die as an honest person. When I arrived at the church, I have already read some basic information about the peculiarities of Catholic service and beliefs. Nevertheless, I still was a bit unsure to enter the Church, and the unknown environment around made me feel a bit uncomfortable. The differences I noticed actually impressed me and I felt very foreign at the beginning.Order now
Inside the building, I was impressed by the beauty of the church decorations and cleanliness. There were no doubts that the altar servers also pay a lot of attention to maintaining the quality of such a beautiful place. There were a lot of stained-glass windows inside that impressed with their rich ornaments. Also, I have truly liked the Stations of the Cross with the depiction of Jesus Christ. It was placed right above the altar. It should be mentioned that it basically the portrayal of Jesus Christ on the cross that helped me to see the similarities of the Catholic Church with the one at my home and reconsider all the stereotypes I had before about Catholicism. I understood the first important similarity that Catholics also believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross because of all sinful actions of humanity.
The behavior of people during the service
Then, Mass began, and the altar servers approached the altar holding the cross in their hands. The altar servers greatly assisted the priests during the service. Then, the priests would also ask for the congregation to ask for the forgiveness of their sins. As they walked above the altar, they read the scriptures and continued the congregation saying “Lord have mercy.” The reading of the sacred writings ended with the statement “Thanks be to God.” It was actually interesting to see the service that was unfamiliar to me.
The thing that also could not leave one indifferent is the hymns that were vigorously sung throughout the ceremony. In fact, I felt that the hymns drive the overall process and greatly emphasize the presence of God and Jesus Christ. Although I was truly engaged in the ceremony, I continued to examine the design of the building and behaviors of people inside the Church. Therefore, my attention was driven to a Deacon who was dressed in a beautiful prayer shoal crossway. Also, I have notice priests wearing long black robes known as cassocks.
Basing on my experience, I may say that the Mass is a very vital ritual to all Catholics. First, people visit the Mass to reinforce their beliefs. Also, the Mass reminds Catholics about the importance of adhering to the rules described in the teachings of God. Therefore, it was interesting to see that every skipped Mass without a profound reason for that is equal to the commitment of mortal sin. Otherwise, only in case a person is ill or cares for the sick, he or she misses the Mass with a clear conscience.
Also, one of the things that made me feel the most uncomfortable was the overall ceremony. Almost every five minutes I felt truly lost. In fact, the masses were moving synchronically and I could not follow them in the same way. Although I did my best, almost all the time I felt myself more like an outsider. However, I cannot really say that I felt unwelcome. Even more, the atmosphere in the Church helped me to understand that it does not really matter where I am in my faith journey right now. Catholics extended to me a warm welcome and helped me to feel like I am a part of their community.
In addition to this, I would like to underline the good organization of the service and its adhering to the time schedule. The amount of time people spent in prayer was equal to those time mentioned in advance in the pamphlet that was given me in the entrance. I noticed how time becomes an important factor for Catholics as the service exactly followed the pamphlet. The service lasted for two hours. Besides, it is very important to mention that nearly half of the hour was spent while praying. The number of different announcements during the service was minimized, and I truly appreciated that. During the service, Catholics did everything that bible scriptures required, including kneeling and raising their hands to pray and ask for forgiveness.
Conclusion about my experience
Summarizing all the memories mentioned above, I may say without any doubts that my experience of visiting the St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church has exceeded even my expectations. Although the service was approximately two hours long, the time has passed really quickly as many different activities took place during the service. Also, I liked the voluntarism of Catholics as most people tried to help in various parts of the service and tried to approach the new-comers like me as warm as possible. The overall service was really interactive, and I liked how organized, and synchronically Catholics moved and prayed. To be honest, before my experience of visiting the Church, I had mainly negative thoughts about Catholicism. In fact, I have faced a variety of rumors stating that Catholics people pray mainly to Mary rather than Jesus Christ or God. However, the reality made me really reconsider the Catholic practices and created a number of unanswered questions. I opened to myself a lot of new information in terms of the religion and have an opportunity to compare the service in the Catholic Church to the service I have visiting the Church in my hometown. Although Catholics have a strong religion and identical faith in Jesus Christ, their Mass differs greatly from what I have experienced before. Therefore, the overall experience of visiting the Catholic Mass was actually different from what I was expecting. However, I really enjoyed the experience, and, even more, I recommend every person who wants to understand what the essence of the Catholic religion is to have a visit to the Church and see how a sacred space, objects, sincere people, and times make the overall experience unforgettable. All in all, I would recommend every person of other religions to repeat my Catholic Church experience to understand my feelings and emotions.