The last time I was in the eastern part of Singapore was months ago. As usual, it’s one big rush, with little time to more than seek out the targeted destination, meet, greet and eat and then off back to where I live in the central part of the island.
I barely am aware of the place; only the friends I was meeting.
This morning was different. I had to look for the Church of the Holy Family to attend a mass dedicated to an old friend’s mum, among others, who passed away on Jan 3.
I was given various directions: enter by Sea Avenue as that’s where the front of the church is. Try and park in the church, failing which park at Katong Mall. Being a real kiasu, I decided to park in the mall and walk to the church.
East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road intersection around 11 on a Sunday morning was teeming with people. Ren shan, ren hai! Where’s the sleepy Joo Chiat of old? But no time to stand, stare n take a snapshot if I wanted to get to the mass on time.
Arriving at the Church, I was glad I was kiasu. The front yard of church was packed so tight with cars that one had to squeeze between them to get to the church.
The mass was less than uplifting (for me at least) in so far as it’s totally unlike what I remembered when I was a student at CHIJ. My memory could be playing tricks, of cos, as that’s decades ago. Also, I thought the same when i last attended a mass about 20 years ago — in Salzburg Austria — when I believed the strangeness was due to the fact that I didn’t know the language.
Today showed that it had nothing to do with language. I understood every word but didn’t feel the involvement I once did. Probably more me than the service since the church was packed to the brim and no one was fidgety even when the mass lasted 75 minutes!
Still, compared to the happy clappy congregation of a non-Catholic church service I attended in December 08 in Penang, I could see why the charismatic Protestant movement is pulling them in and why the Catholic church of my childhood has morphed so much.
This morning, if not for the altar boys, I won’t have known I was in a Catholic church!
Still with rapid change the central mantra across the world, I guess even the Rock has to get with it!