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637: St Aloysius, Spokane, Washington, USA
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St. Aloysius Catholic Church
Mystery Worshipper: Laudate Dominum.
The church: St Aloysius, Spokane, Washington, USA.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: Fairly typical late 19th Century, with lovely stained glass windows, white marble altar and two side altars, choir lofts on both sides above the first section of pews, and a choir/organ loft in the back.
The church: They seem to be quite active, judging by the bulletin.
The neighbourhood: The church is situated just about in the middle of Gonzaga University's campus, right next to the administration building. Most of the parking is a half a block away.
The cast: Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, President of Gonzaga University was celebrant.
What was the name of the service?
Mass of the Holy Spirit (opening of the university year).

How full was the building?
Almost full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Some university students were standing outside, handing out programs for the liturgy. The boys were all wearing club shirts and ties, and the girls had skirts, blouses, and club sweaters. One of them smiled and handed me a program. There were also similarly dressed individuals inside, directing people to their seats. As I sat down, a woman next to me asked whether I was a freshman at the university.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were reasonably comfortable, I suppose, if you're six feet tall. Otherwise your feet don't touch the floor.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
About half of the people were exchanging gossip, the other half were quiet and reverential. The choir in the loft at the back were making an incredible amount of noise shuffling papers.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, it's nice to see you all here for the mass of the Holy Spirit, the traditional opening of the university year."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
A printed-out program, with music copied from the OCP Today's Missal Music Issue.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ, trumpet, and possibly some other brass instruments.

Did anything distract you?
A very attractive and well-dressed young man sat next to me, and that was certainly a bit distracting! Also, the choir rustled their papers a lot, and were quite noisy when someone needed to change position for one of the songs.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Definitely in the stiff-upper-lip category. The music was serious, the celebrant was serious, the congregation as a whole were serious. Hardly anyone sang, except, of course, the choir.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – After talking for about five minutes, he announced that he essentially had three points to make. The congregation giggled at this, as though his having three points was a common occurrence. His three points were somewhat extended, however, with multiple subsections.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was about prayer and calling on God for assistance. He said something along the lines of, "As you go through the school year, you will have many frustrations. Personally, I say this prayer often: 'Oh God, (dramatic pause) I give up! You take care of it.' And he always does."

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The recessional hymn, Holy God We Praise Thy Name, was very beautifully rendered by the choir and musicians. There must have been 15 concelebrants (most of the Jesuit community of the university), and that was very cool. The procession of the professors in their academic robes was quite impressive as well. Made me want to be a professor, just so I could wear one of those nifty floppy hats.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The choir rustling papers. It was horrible. Sounded like radio static, only much louder.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The celebrant said hello as I left the church, and two students came up and talked to me and asked if I was a freshman, what my major was, where I was from, etc.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There wasn't anything.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 – It's a beautiful church, but if the choir always makes that much noise, I think I'd go crazy! And although Fr. Spitzer is an extremely intelligent man and a wonderful speaker, someone needs to edit his homilies and make them a little shorter.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Overall, yes.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The prayer, "Oh God, I give up! You take care of it!"
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