Overcome in a Cathedral

Earlier this week, I arrived early for a conference (work-related) in my local big city, and I realised that I had an hour of time to spare before the conference was due to start.

I had a few options to consider in terms of making use of this spare time, including sitting in the reception area of the hotel drinking coffee, or going out for a walk, I chose to walk.

My intention on setting off was to head for the shops and buy one or two last minute gifts for Christmas, but I found my feet taking me towards the Catholic Cathedral.

The door was open but the seats were empty. I knelt for a while in the silence of this beautiful building and in no time at all I wept.

These emotional moments are never to be wasted, so I tried really hard to think about what I was crying about, here are a few of them:-

In recent weeks I have had very little time to just be;

I am tired;

I am not feeling happy in my marriage at the moment;

I wish the children would discover the faith I so much wanted them to have;

I feel financially stretched;

The cars old and seems to be making a funny noise;

I don’t like winter… and here’s the big one,

I don’t feel accepted and;

I don’t feel accepted because I have not really told anyone beyond a close circle how things are with me.

I sat up for a while staring at the altar. To my left I became aware of some activity and saw a priest in his vestments heading off to a side altar to say Mass accompanied by an altar server and a parishioner.

I worked out that I had time to attend this Mass so I walked over. The little altar was enclosed by rails so I knelt on the steps leading up to it so that I could participate.

The little service was intimate and beautiful, and as I knelt there, I again felt overcome in the cathedral at the intensity of my feelings which were so raw.

At communion, the priest greeted me by name which moved me deeply, and after Mass as he walked down the little steps on which I had been kneeling I kissed his hand (a sign of my respect for him and something I assure you I am not in a habit of doing) and he warmly embraced me around my head and neck, and held me there for a few moments, before releasing me and asking after my family.

As I walked back to the conference, I seemed to gain a perspective and an energy which I had not been conscious of on my walk to the cathedral.

Perhaps it did me good to just let my heart speak in that holy place.

I did not leave that holy place as I left the cathedral (holy as it is), I sensed my own holiness, my own virtue, my own self-hood and this had found its expression whilst being overcome in the cathedral.

My next blog will be:  Hard Brexit

William Defoe



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