Mystery Worshipper: Aileen
Church: Our Lady of the Rosary
Location: Marylebone, London
Date of visit: Sunday, 22 September 2013, 6:00pm
Opened in 1964, it is a beautiful big church designed by 20th century Art Deco stylist Harry Goodhart-Rendel, who died before construction began. The floor is brown wood. Up on top is blue, with many lights. There are several side chapels, and the high altar is backed by narrow slits of windows that let in light in a strikingly effective pattern.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held on Fridays and Saturdays, and the sacrament of reconciliation is ministered on Saturdays both in the morning and afternoon. Likewise, there are morning and evening masses each Sunday. Otherwise I was not able to find out very much about their activities. The various pages on their website, which appears to have been provided to them by the diocese, are mostly blank.
Marylebone is an affluent area in the City of Westminster favoured by doctors and dentists for their offices. There are also many restaurants. The area is well served by buses and the tube. There are several trees, and many people living close to the church.
The Revd Michael Johnson, parish priest.
What was the name of the service?Folk Mass
How full was the building?
About 85, with plenty of space for more people. All were adults, men and women, no children.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The priest and another man smiled, and some other people were also pleasant.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was comfortable: light brown made of wood, with a separate kneeler.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The musicians sang just before the service and it was lovely: "Christ be our light".
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Stand." This was followed by the introit for the day and the standard opening Sign of the Cross.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Jerusalem Mass Sheet.
What musical instruments were played?
Guitars and flutes, played very well.
Did anything distract you?
Both of the lectors were women, which pleased me greatly, as I remembered when I used to read bits of the Bible at church.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Singing was enthusiastic for the songs we recognised, less so for those we didn't. But everyone seemed to be loving it.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Father Johnson spoke clearly.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
He related the Old Testament reading from Amos to the gospel reading from Luke. Both Amos and Jesus preached social justice. God taught us how to treat people. We need to get our thinking straight regarding money vs poverty. We all need money to support our families, but there is always the danger that money will become a primary influence in our lives. We mustn't forget our relationship with Jesus, who is the real primary influence.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Taking communion under both kinds.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Knowing that there are places in the world where Christians are still persecuted even in these modern times.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People smiled and spoke to us. The priest shook my hand as I left and smiled to me. He was really nice!
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – If I was nearby in London, I would consider it. This was a really lovely church, with good people.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The beauty of the church and the nice people, and the constant reminder about Jesus being lovely to us.