Sunday, 31 May 2009

A long night in church

Moni had her confirmation last night at the Dominican abbey in Slużew. And quite some ceremony it was too, starting at eight in the evening and finishing well after 1 am.

She had been attending confirmation classes for the best part of two years; the lead up to the ceremony is not taken lightly (skip too many classes and you're name's off the list). Confirmation takes place on the eve of Pentecost and the sacrament is administered by a bishop.

Although the Dominican Abbey is a modern building, bereft of the built-up trappings of centuries - holy paintings, miraculous statues, etc, the Dominicans still know how to Put On A Show. To quote John Betjeman: "Church and Stage have always been closely connected". The music is staggeringly good at putting the congregation into a deeply spiritual mood (helped by first-rate accoustics), the ritual, steeped in symbolism, the incense, the vestments are traditional and As They Should Be, yet never have I heard a dodgy message from the pulpit (re: politics, the EU, Jews, masons, cyclists); sermons stick to Christ's Love. The congregation itself it is in good measure young (many students) and intellectuals. The first non-communist prime minister of modern Poland, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, worships here.

The sermon from Bishop Pikus, finished with the words "True human happiness is impossible without Belief"; words to ponder upon, an idea worth lengthy contemplation.

The picture above was taken with my Nikon D80 (the battery memory issue seems to have mysteriously cleared up!). I used my 105mm f1.8 Nikkor wide open (640 ISO at 1/40 sec). Being able to use my old Nikkor lenses is one reason why I chose to go digital with Nikon rather than Canon. Click to enlarge and see the detail.

If you are wondering why the shops are shut* today, it's because it's Pentecost and the nation is commemorating the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (Zielone Świątki in Poland, Whitsun in England).

* Last year, a radio journalist called a prominent PiS politician and mischievously asked him whether he was going shopping that day. Hearing the answer 'yes', the journalist told the politician that he couldn't. "And why's that?" asked the politician. "Because you lot voted to close all shops today", replied the journalist. Collapse of stout party.

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