Nobody expects the Spanish Resurrection
I see there are very few views of the recent pilgrimage blog posts and – as usual – no comments. That takes the pressure off. I am usually motivated by page views and comments to get the next stage of the pilgrimage up quickly, and I don’t feel such an obligation if it looks like nobody is reading it anyway! There’s nothing like knowing you have an audience for motivating further writing! I’ll put up the next episode of Walking Out of the World when I have a moment or two… There are some other practical matters to attend to around the place.
Wait until Tuesday, folks, and I’ll let Rubí donkey write her blog. I have quite enough on my plate anyway… The US blog WherePeterIs.com is taking more of my time at the moment and after four articles in Lent and Holy Week, I’m preparing a sample article for the series “Postcards from the Camino” which will feature on that site from time to time.
The pitch: “This is the first of an occasional series “Postcards from the Camino” which will combine aspects of Catholicism, pilgrimage and life in modern Europe, focused on the Way of Saint James to the shrine of the apostle at Compostela. The writer is British and lives in Spain, where he is a committed opponent of Brexit and sees the wider European project as one that reflects a centuries old culture rooted in the Catholic tradition.”
If you disagree with any of that, don’t bother commenting here. The point of that blog is to de-fuse the culture wars!
Easter joy in Sella
I arrived in good time for Mass. Having messaged Father Vicente to ask what was the timetable for Easter services and received no reply, I went to the village early and found a notice on the door of Santa Ana, the door being still locked twenty minutes before the 11.00 Easter Mass and no sign of any parishioners. I went for coffee in the Bar Casino next door.
Five minutes before Easter Sunday Mass was due to begin, somebody with a key opened the door of Santa Ana. There were three people waiting outside.
Easter Sunday Mass began with the usual panic. Father Vicente turned up at the appointed hour and found everyone sitting in the pews with nothing prepared, so he dashed around the sacristy, the altar, and the statue store, where he found a dusty statue of the resurrected Christ and asked a parishioner to hold it while he brought a rickety stand from the statue store.
“Nooooo…!” they cried from the front pews, the ladies in black. “That’s the rickety stand. We usually use the small table!”
If they knew that, it might have been useful to arrive a few minutes earlier and put the small table in place (maybe dust the resurrected Christ as well?) Father Vicente dusts the resurrected Christ, while a lady in black arrives from the sacristy with a white tablecloth.
“You forgot the tablecloth, padre.”
He ignores her and carries on dusting the Christ, trying to make him white, not grey. In fact He actually needs repainting, I mean Jesus not Father Vicente. Will we have to wait another hour while Father repaints Him? Thankfully, the arrangement is satisfactory now there is a white tablecloth, so we can take the Resurrection as accomplished.
Father Vicente tells a parishioner to distribute the Easter Sunday song sheets which are on a table at the front of the church. The idea of distributing them has not occurred to anybody, although presumably someone had the idea of printing them at some point since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1459, so the need for distribution was not exactly a surprise. Father Vicente rehearses the congregation in four of the songs on the sheet. They are songs about the joy of the Easter Resurrection. The congregation sings a verse of each of them, and they are relieved to discover that all these songs can be sung to the usual tuneless dirge, so no effort is required to either lift their voices or learn a new tune.
Father dashes into the sacristy and returns, breathless by now, wearing a white chasuble and black face mask, and ready to start the liturgy. We soon get to the Scripture readings. And it would have been sooner had anyone organized the bookmarks or volunteered to read.
“Who is going to read?” he asked.
The usual two ladies who do the reading stood up from the pews, as if totally astonished at the idea that readings were part of today’s Mass, and they made their way to the lectern, whereby we waited as Father Vicente explained what they should read, what were the responses, and who was going to read what. Part way through the New Testament reading, he stopped the reader to spend five minutes explaining the text. This would normally form part of a sermon, I thought. But it made an interesting intervention and kept us all on our toes, not knowing what happens next in a Mass.
The sermon, often delivered in a mixture of Castillano (modern Spanish) and Valenciano (which is actually Catalan, but called Valenciano for local political sensitivities) was today delivered entirely in Valenciano, so I didn’t understand a word of it. I spent the entire sermon glaring at the face of the plaster God framed in a triangle in institutional-cream coloured plaster clouds looking down from above the sanctuary, thinking that I hate depictions of God in plaster, and even if I didn’t, He shouldn’t be depicted like THAT!
When it came time for Holy Communion, I did not go up to receive the Lord (which is the whole point of coming to Mass on Easter Sunday) because Father Vicente was putting wafers directly into people’s open mouths… Fourteen months into the Covid pandemic, and after all we have learned, he is still putting wafers into people’s mouths. I’m wearing a double FFP2 mask. I’m taking all the precautions. And at this Mass I’m invited to go up and make one deadly mistake while celebrating the Resurrection of the Giver of Life…
Bar Casino, Sella
After Mass, most people gather in the Bar Casino. Today, after Mass it is cloudy and a thunderstorm threatens. The temperature is dropping fast. I did not bring a pullover and I am shivvering. But today, finally I witness the Easter miracle: there are free tapas with the beer at the Bar Casino. Olé ! The alternative communion…
It is time to return to my hermitage. It has been referred to as a “hobby hermitage”, which is fair enough as I have a matching “hobby farm” with donkeys. Maybe it’s a blessing that I also have a “hobby parish” to visit for major feasts.