St. Mary's Church, Maynooth
One of my pupils was receiving his Confirmation this morning in the Church of Ireland, Maynooth. So I set off bright and early to attend the ceremony. I was quite excited about going there as I have never been to a service before. The nearest I got to one was watching an episode of The Vicar of Dibly.
It is a stunning church. The walls inside are unplastered so you can see the stonework. It reminded me of one of the churches in The Tudors. It was a blessing on a day like today (glorious sunshine) in keeping the place cool.
It was so unusual to have a woman in vestments leading the congregation. Catholic Church, take note! The girl beside me was so friendly in sharing her hymn book with me, I didn't have the heart to tell her that she was wasting her time as I didn't know any of them.
And boy, do they sing! What is it about us Catholics that we refuse to open our mouths to sing in church. That's a job for the choir.
But today, everyone sang every hymn and every verse of the hymns...all five of them! Thought I was now on the set of Songs of Praise.
We would only sing the first two verses and a chorus...at a push!
When it came to Communion time the bishop told us that they welcomed everyone to receive at their altar, even if we were of a different denomination. The Jesus I believe in encourages unity and solidarity, so I went up to receive.
I wasn't sure of the protocol, so I followed the lead of "nice girl who shared hymn book".
Got a shock when I realised it is normal bread that is used, as opposed to Catholic unleavened bread. I couldn't understand why we remained standing at the altar after receiving the bread. Then I noticed two people with chalices coming with the wine. For a moment I thought
Why are there two chalices? There is hardly a choice between red and white.
Of course there wasn't. It was just to speed up the process.
Afterwards we filed out and the bishop shook everyone's hand. It was a lovely ceremony...and experience, one I'd definately do again. Will need to brush up on my lyrics beforehand though!!