Music: C It was kind of underwhelming. Although the sound itself was beyond incredible, the actual songs were too tiny to fit this building. Someone was simultaneously leading and conducting, all the while being the only person singing into a microphone. Very few people sang along and the church was about 5% full. The organ was amazing but wasn’t being used very intensely. Only at the end of the service when the organist played a classic type of “leaving church” song did you get the full effect of the room and the multitudes of notes playing off eachother. Too little, too late, as they say.
people who will die in the next 20 years: between 5% and 10%
pastor charisma: D There were three. There was no rapport between the attendees and the priests. If no one was there, I feel they wouldn’t have done it any differently. No power. Boring.
décor iconography: There are probably many books written about this place. Someone said it was the biggest church in Canada. Well, I believe them. I wrote so much about this aspect in my notes. First off, it feels like a 70’s sci-fi in there. If there was a catholic service in Star Trek, they’d have to film it in there. So crazy looking. One point very worthy of note is the presence of modern-looking abstract art. Behind the stage, on the organ, lots of non-traditional non-eurocentric work in what looks like wrought iron or something. There was also a recurring motif in the hanging lights. This very rarely happens in catholic churches, at least to my knowledge. There was a sculpture cut into the pulpit where they talked from and to me it looked like an angel or a demon (lol) and Jane didn’t think it was anything in particular. You know? That’s strange! There was also a huge mural dedicated to st-joe when we came in, it had a few banners interspersed two of which read: “Protecteur de l’eglise universelle” and “Modele des travailleurs” which means “protector of the universal church” and “model for the workers”. It wasn’t the only mural which alluded to the church’s role in directing the working class. Aka in controlling their anger and so on. Wild. And this section wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the fact that there’s like a little museum dedicated to the “founder” of this monument to catholic opulence, and it has his heart sitting in a fancy holy jar of formaldehyde (i’m assuming it’s formaldehyde). Just to be done with this section I should just point out that this place is insane and huge and beautiful and has tons of wacky stuff to look at and shit like that. It’s mega famous so you can look it up if you want.
food/drink: none that i saw
scare quotient: D If they were even able to communicate a single human emotion, that’d be a start. Nothing even remotely worthy of fear in this joint.
number of people: 250ish, but there’s like 6 services on sundays or something.
THE REAL STORY
Martin, Morgan, Jane and me, working (biking) our way up what is, on a sunday morning, a huge fucking hill. At the top there’s this monster of a church. Morgan had wanted to go to the church where they have a mural with Mussolini in it, sitting on a horse. Oh yeah, i’m in Montreal. But yeah, anyway, I thought a mural of that dweeb might be the only neat thing there so we decided on this badass hunk of shit. Sorry about doing two catholic churches in a row, it just didn’t seem right not to do a catholic church with only one sunday in quebec.
It’s a crazy place. They have a lot of steps to climb up to get there, and there’s a set of them for people to go up on their knees. Some real catholic shit right there. Jane did it on their knees, holding a mcdonalds coffee and looking more like a goblin than a pious catho. It was funny. Jane wants to be a christian i think, but i also think they are too into depravity. Like, not the right kind to fit in with those shitheads.
We first went into what turned out to be a sub-church, and the service was just ending. It was in english and there were lots of people. But we left to find the service we intended to see. turned out to be in french. And it was in the basilica part, the huge crazy motherfucking part. Its ceilings must have been 400 feet high (i have no fucking clue, i just made that up). But yeah i kept thinking Star Trek.
The echo in there was OUT OF CONTROL. It was actually pretty hard to pay attention to what people were saying cuz you had to listen so closely just in order to understand. It also had a cool effect with the music where the notes would linger and clash with the newer ones. Unfortunately it was minimal because of the simplicity of the songs, i would have enjoyed a huge clusterfuck for the length of the service.
One thing is that around half the people visibly involved in the service were black, including the two most active of the three priests. They were also all much younger than the whiteys. I don’t know much about worldwide catholicism and its situation, but i get the feeling that lots of priests are coming from africa these days.
The service moved along quite slowly. The bible reading was paul’s letter to the thessalonians, which is in greece, which is awesome cuz i just met a greek anarchist two nights before, and we shot the shit about stuff over there and stuff over here. Anyway, haha, that’s where the bible is from, sort of, partially, apparently.
Then there was the sermon. The priest quietly walked over to the pulpit, opened his leather paper-holder thing, and chilled for a second. Silence was a big thing here. There were kind of awesome lengths of silence, like they weren’t worried about boring us (obvz they were). Anyway, this guy just starts reading us this boring-ass essay that a fuckin pious 8th grader might have written. Except it was much longer than would be required of an 8th grader. And shit was it ever boring! Who does that! It’s the future man! Be less boring! There was literally nothing worth hearing in this guy’s sermon, just all this boring jesus shit, that was all very abstract, but not in a good way, just in a very “we are the world” way but where he wasn’t even trying it felt like. Anyway…
After a bit of catholic horsing around, they got to the collection, which was done by a bunch of people in weird para-military uniforms, they reminded me of the salvation army uniforms, like the real serious ones that you only ever see pictures of. Jane gave them a few coins lol.
I remembered so much of the rote repetitious shit that you have to say, the so-called “profession of faith” where you apparently say that you believe jesus went to hell before coming back (?!?!?!?) and that you believe in the catholic church. Another thing you have to say is “Il est grand, le mystere de la foi” which means “it is large, the mystery of faith”, which i think is HILARIOUS.
During communion they had those same uniformed people stand behind the priests giving the food; it was as if people were gonna rush the stage, it looked like security at a big show. Man, if people rushed that place it would be a very funny and crazy scene.
When communion was over i saw the old white priest slam the remaining wine. Which is funny cuz i didn’t see them serving any at communion, but anyway, it was two hard swigs and i smiled.
It was pretty much over by then. We stood around for a bit and listened to the organist finally doing something cool, then we checked out the preserved heart. Apparently, it was stolen in the 1970’s and “they got it back” yeah right. We briefly discussed what we’d do with a saint’s heart. You fill in the blanks.
As I was leaving, i was for sure thinking about the whole acknowledgement of the working class in the church. I wondered if it had to do with st-joe and the fact that his legend is that of a carpenter, and id they’re trying to weasel out some sort of class solidarity out of that. Huh. I dunno, i would shit myself to see a nod to class in any church built nowadays, but don’t hold me to that. I don’t wanna shit myself, especially not over some cheap ploy to get poor people to identify with their church’s lies about some pies in some skies.
Me and Jane smoked a cigarette in the no smoking zone and it was lol. no actually it wasn’t a big deal i just can’t really remember what we talked about.