Saturday, December 10, 2005

Day 17: Tower of London Plus

posted later

This has been a full and fun day. I could make a very long post, so I’ll stick to comments most relevant to Anglicans. (I will say my nerves have been fine since the first day. I’ve been relaxed and having fun since. Thanks to those who have expressed concern.)

I went to the Tower of London in the morning. At 9:30am, it was close to disserted, which was nice. I took some good advice (You know who you are. ;^) and went to the Crown Jewels first and gawked at them to my hearts delight without having to dodge other gawkers.

Something I’ve noticed in a number of places I’ve been is the excellent craftsmanship of centuries ago. Those who think those were “The Dark Ages” or uncivilized need to think again. Often the workmanship of long ago is much better than that of the 20th Century.

It got more crowded later, especially with school kids, which is cool, too. I think they visit sites during times of year when the tourists aren’t around. So I’ve seen a lot of English school kids.

The Chapel of St. Johns in the Tower is simple but beautiful with its two layers of Romanesque arches. I was moved by the Chapel Royal, mainly by the presence of Lady Jane Grey. She was executed by Bloody Mary in front of the chapel then buried under the altar. Thinking her body was there . . . it’s hard to describe how that affected me.

It’s strange how the bodies of royal executees were treated. They were buried in the most desirable place underneath the altar. But they were given no plaque or pavement stone. And their families could not visit them if they were buried anywhere in the Tower.

After the lunch in the Tower (Not very good.), I visited All Hallows by the Tower. It’s green copper spire is hard to miss. Inside, it combines elements all the way from its ancient Saxon beginnings to today. Yet it works, and it’s interesting.

Later on, I attended Solemn Mass for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Westminster Cathedral. Yes, it was a bit Marian, just a little. And much of it was in Latin, which I like. I thought Latin Catholics were getting in trouble for that a few years back. Anyway, a bishop presided over it. I think it was the Catholic Archbishop around here. And yes, the choir was quite good, even though they were wayyyyy up there behind the altar. No sitting by the choir here.

Further, the worship lacked the intimacy of the Anglican worship I’ve experienced, especially here in England. Even in Anglican cathedrals, you can easily sit close to the choir and the celebrants. But not at Westminster Cathedral. I like intimate worship better.

Oh, and when people went up to take the sacrament, there wasn’t much order, you just got up when you wanted, not the row by row thing us Anglicans do. (I didn’t go up.) And it was in one kind (Bread only.). I really don’t like that. This sinner wants and needs both kinds.

The music and ceremony were excellent. Yet, the very Marian aspects turned me into a spectator for much of the time. But that’s fine. They’re Roman Catholick, and I’m not. And I’m still glad I went. I might go back on Sunday afternoon to hear the organ. It cranks!

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