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The Vatican Rag

The Vatican Rag L I S A E R B S T E W A R T Recently I attended an Episcopal service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. It was the Monday-noon Eucharist. With a few other tourists I sat in the richly decorated pews closest to the high altar and gazed beyond its brocade to the enormous gilt altarpiece, whose excesses eventually became too much for my eyes. The priest approached a woman seated nearby who was already praying, and asked her to remove her hat. Then the service began. I was made dizzy by the presence of the sculpted crucifixion, but then recovered in the quiet breathing of the Virgin off to the side, clothed in that mineral blue. The heavy pews forced gravity upon my heart, and the rose windows steadied the kaleidoscopic reeling in my brain. The service was very similar to the Catholic Mass: the same words and soft rhythms, the wafer, and then the wine. After the final benediction, when the priest came over to greet the five or six of us who had attended the service, I expressed my pleasure at the similarity--having never attended an Episcopal service before. "Yes," the priest http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Manoa University of Hawai'I Press

The Vatican Rag

Manoa , Volume 23 (2) – Mar 16, 2011

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-943x
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Abstract

L I S A E R B S T E W A R T Recently I attended an Episcopal service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. It was the Monday-noon Eucharist. With a few other tourists I sat in the richly decorated pews closest to the high altar and gazed beyond its brocade to the enormous gilt altarpiece, whose excesses eventually became too much for my eyes. The priest approached a woman seated nearby who was already praying, and asked her to remove her hat. Then the service began. I was made dizzy by the presence of the sculpted crucifixion, but then recovered in the quiet breathing of the Virgin off to the side, clothed in that mineral blue. The heavy pews forced gravity upon my heart, and the rose windows steadied the kaleidoscopic reeling in my brain. The service was very similar to the Catholic Mass: the same words and soft rhythms, the wafer, and then the wine. After the final benediction, when the priest came over to greet the five or six of us who had attended the service, I expressed my pleasure at the similarity--having never attended an Episcopal service before. "Yes," the priest

Journal

ManoaUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Mar 16, 2011

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