Yesterday in Austria was ‘Corpus Christi’ – a national holiday.
Sitting our hotel room we heard a gunshot. In the distance a band was playing. It was getting closer. A procession of people dressed in traditional Tyrolese clothing were approaching. Some were part of the band, some were carrying religious statues…
They stopped at a field. Some knelt as prayers were said, scriptures were read. The band played and the procession continued. We followed it around the village, finishing at the church. There were more prayers and a final gunshot.
Everyone went to the adjacent pub garden. The celebrations continued… more music… beer, schnapps, food…
We went into the church. It was beautiful, with many statues, icons and symbols of faith…
Musing… My evangelical, protestant, non-conformist tradition would focus on differences – why Roman Catholics are wrong and we’re right. Here’s 8 things I learnt from the Catholic faith I saw yesterday.
- It made a holiday a holy-day – remembering the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Corpus Christi… the body of Christ… the humanity of Jesus… the Last Supper… ‘This is my body, broken for you’… central to Christian faith
- Faith was public. Prayers, kneeling unashamed in the field took faith outside the church.
- The celebration made faith holistic – part of history, tradition and life. The Church’s gold and white flag hung symbolically alongside the Tyrolean red and white flag.
- The community came together… young children, adults with mobility difficulties… all included in celebration.
- Children were important. At the back of the church was a special display of pictures of local children who had recently taken their first communion.
- The visual impact of statues, pictures and symbols of faith were eye-catching. I love its plainness of my church… My assumptions were challenged!
- At the front of the church was the text: ‘I have found my lost sheep.’ Luke 15:6. We’re all lost sheep found by the Good Shepherd.