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484: Church of the Holy Cross at St Leo Abbey, St Leo, Florida
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Church of the Holy Cross at St Leo Abbey, St Leo, Florida
Mystery Worshipper: Pious Carrot.
The church: Church of the Holy Cross at St Leo Abbey, St Leo, Florida.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: The church is drop dead beautiful by central Florida church standards. Although the building was not completed until 1946, the "feel" of the building is centuries older.
The church: St Leo Abbey is also home to St Leo University, as well as being a community of Benedictine nuns.
The neighbourhood: The rural campus is surrounded by working farms and orange groves on rolling hills.
The cast: Rev. Simeon Thole, OSB.
What was the name of the service?
Sunday Mass.

How full was the building?
Very full. In spite of the Abbey being located on a small college campus, there were almost no students present.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, the plain wooden pew was very comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very quiet except for a few gossipy women.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit..."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books. The responsorial psalm and readings were available in the weekly leaflet.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ music.

Did anything distract you?
Two things distracted me. One, there was no kneeling throughout the entire service. During the eucharist the congregation stood the entire time. The peace exchange as well as the hand-holding during the Pater Noster was very disruptive. The sudden focus on shaking the hands (or having your hand grabbed) of 10 people within 20 seconds takes the focus off the the sacred celebration of the body and blood of Christ.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship was largely quiet and respectful.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
8 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon discussed the Gospel reading of the day (Matthew 5:13-16) about how Christians are called to be the salt of the earth. The pastor discussed how Christians must be be holy in spite of what may be going on in the world with terrorism, crime, and injustice. I would have loved to have heard specific examples of how Christians have overcome apathy or fear in a quest to live out the Gospel, but that was not to be.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music was beautiful and holy.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The exchange of the peace during the eucharist.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing, I was ignored.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was no after-service coffee.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
The music and the beautiful church building made me very glad to be a Christian.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The grounds of the Abbey as well as the lovely music.
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