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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Inside Church

I went to the local Catholic church Sunday...or rather one of the local Catholic churches...expecting a 45 minute speed mass like the kind they usually have. Instead, there was a full house come to celebrate the children at the school. The priest gave an impassioned sermon that had people cheering and clapping. As it didnt really feel like a mass, I decided to take some pictures as the church is both impressive and overwhelming - huge, bright, and with an overabundance of stripes and colors and images.
A few things about religion here. It is important, at least the images. Especially Mary. After the mass several local firemen carried a statue of Mary with Jesus out to a firetruck parked in front of the church. Before they started the walk, I could see people touching the statue and making crosses - forehead chest shoulder shoulder two or three times before finishing with a kiss of the cross worn around their necks. They do this at regular mass, too - the touching of a statue and praying.
More interesting to me is the way many people, whether on the sidewalk or in a bus or in a taxi will make the sign of the cross when passing a church no matter the time of the day or the location of the church...so in one ride you might see someone cross themselves three or four times.
So what does it all mean? I don't know. Is it wrong that the people place such an importance on images, perhaps more emphasis on these than on words? I don't think so. I think many of them seek comfort in familiar images - images of those who have also known great suffering (many of the people at the church near here are obviously of lower classes).
I don't really have an idea of what place religion has in the running of society - in terms of politics and the way people live day to day. I think this is something I should ask about, though. You would think religion would play more of a role in decision making here than in the US - but then again...

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