went to church this morning. at this place

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it’s far more impressive than even this picture shows. this is the Cathedral of Saint Salvador. from my Let’s Go! Spain & Portugal 2008 travel book:

“A recent renovation restored Oviedo’s 14th century Gothic cathedral to its original splendor. The Capilla de Santa Maria del Rey Casto, which contains the royal pantheon, was chosen by Alfonso II el Casto in AD 802 to house the remains of Asturian monarchs and Christian relics rescued from the Moops. [Just kidding.] In this chapel, also look for the statue of San Pedro (Spanish for Saint Pedro) holding a metal key in his hand. According to legend, if you make three wishes and turn the key around three times, one of the wishes will come true [i cannot verify this]. The cathedral complex includes pristine cloisters, the famous crypt of Santa Leocadia, which holds the remains of the martyrs Eulogio and Leocadia, and a camara santa (holy chamber) containing several enormous golden and jeweled crosses. The highlights of the church museum, a Bible from the 12th century and a modern painting of Mother Teresa, warrant the entrance fee.”

so from the outside this place is just magnificent; the inside is nothing less than spectacular. i hadn’t gone in until this morning, and i was totally blown away. it is gigantic, and there is gorgeous architecture just covering every wall. it’s like everywhere you look is some impressive new thing. so great. there is a main hall area, and they had a church service off in a smaller hall. i have only been to a catholic service once before, and this being my second, and in spanish, i didn’t follow it all that well. here’s what i got from it. these people are faithful. not necessarily geniune, but faithful in the consistent sense. i felt like i was intruding on some secret ancient club from four thousand years ago; there were all these rituals, times to say certain things, such an exact way to say and do everything. very impressive to sit in on. it just struck me as interesting that while i’m sure there are many devoted, sincere, faithful (as in have a profound faith in God) catholics, it is such a faith system based in the head. it seems as though these people are going through motions and rituals without really feeling a thing, feeling anything they are saying or doing. these traditions have been around for two thousand-ish years and they are still going strong, that is a testimony to the will power of these people. c.s. lewis wrote,

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” – Screwtape, The Screwtape Letters

now i have no idea if this people actually think like this, but let’s be honest, to keep up so many intricate traditions for so long is commendable. my generation of christians has the opposite problem. no one cares for very long. our hearts are so fickle and that’s exactly what my generation gets its jollies from, “feeling”, from “the heart”. none of us want to think, and that leads nowhere. the catholic faith feels too cerebral to me (feels cerebral=oxymoron). my modern christian faith feels too fairweather, too flighty for my liking. to find the middle ground is near impossible. i’ve been trying to pull it off for like five years and it’s never really worked the way i’d like it too.

but it’s quite an experience, this church. i’ll keep going for now, at least until i find a protestant church, but i’m not expecting too much. i’d love to hear “Be Glorified” in spanish.

-jon

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