Sunday, March 11, 2007

Church #32: Guardian Angels Church

1. Who attended? Bradley, Erica and guest-hopper Alex!

How welcome did you feel at this church?
1: I was so uncomfortable and/or offended that I did not stay to the end of services.
10: This church was welcoming and thought-provoking. I would recommend that others experience this church.

BRADLEY: 5, this was a very different church (then what I'm used to)
ALEX: 5 (about average)

3. Picture(s) of the church

4. Name/location of the church:
Guardian Angels Church
6531 Beechmont Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45230
(I was unable to find a website.)

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
No-- we drove past this huge, beautiful church two weeks ago.

6. Time/duration of services:

7. What type of religion did the church cater to?

8. Who did you meet?
Yeah right.

9. If applicable, scans of handouts, tracts, etc

10. Church Hopper’s personal experience with the church, additional details:

ERICA: Alright, I was determined to visit another Catholic church (and yes, we'll visit more; pipe down). We passed this hulking beast of a church a couple weeks ago-- this place was seriously gorgeous. (Pardon the picture-- we did the best we could do while driving away from the place.)

My friend Alex volunteered to tag along, and as he was raised Catholic I put him in charge of keeping me from looking like a jackass. Welllll, easier said than done. This time we had sit-stand-KNEEL, which I'd been warned about but had yet to experience. Combine that with pages of memorized material and I was just plain out of my element. ...Even more so than usual.

Let me at least say that this church was flippin' beautiful. The altar was in the center of the huge auditorium, and there was seating all the way around. The stained glass... oh la la. Very gorgeous. The acoustics were great (which helped when you could hear a pin drop before services started, geez).

But as far as "welcome," no, I had the same feeling as with our first Catholic church-- that I had infiltrated. That I was doing something I shouldn't be doing, something that was wrong. That I was unwelcome. I tried my best to keep up, I really did, and luckily people were fairly intent on their own worship, because I must have looked like an idiot. I certainly felt like one.

BRADLEY: First of all, shouts to Alex, who went with us on this church hopping adventure, and who knew a little more about Catholic churches than I did.

Two Catholic churches, a double dose of back to back Catholic action is quite a task. This is clearly something I could not do. It's not that I have such a strong connection to the newer churches, it's just that Catholic churches seem to be steeped in a very thick and deep tradition. (Didn't I say that last time?)

When we came in, we came in on the side of the church, snaking past the pews in the side. I then saw something I had never seen before in a church. There were seating on all four sides of the main stage. People, again, were dead silent. We took our seats without making too much noise and looked around. The pews were old, worn with church going. The church held a lot of people, and it was nearly full. Still, the place was silent.

It hadn't really made the connection until reading Erica's post, that during this time (when I was sitting, looking around) nobody offered a hand as to who they were, or who this church was. Again, I didn't expect it, because it seems like Catholic churches are something you are raised in. While conversions are normal, just tapping into it seems like a task.

The service itself didn't seem that bad. Catholic services (according to Alex) seem to get it done much quicker than any other service we've been to. It was wrapped up in an hour. That's pretty cool, but the whole service I was very lost. Standing up and sitting down. Kneeling, again, something that's not meant to be taped into. So we went through communion, we went through the message and reading. Despite that fact that I didn't know what I was doing, it seemed like a pretty alright church. Very amazing visually too.

ALEX: Hello everyone!!! My name is Alex and I'm a new and visiting face to the Church Hopping Blog as of March 2007. I met Erica about a week ago and became enamored with her and her brother's idea of seeking out new churches to experience and learn from each week.

This week is my first Church Hopping Experience with Erica and Bradley. Although, I've been doing my own sort of low key church hopping since I've moved to Cincinnati in July of 2006, it's great to go with others each week. I've grown up Catholic and underwent the whole baptism, first communion, and conformation ordeals but have found myself drifting away from the strict Catholic teachings and beliefs for a few number of years. Three years ago, while living in Philadelphia and during the in the middle of medical school, I decided to try and attend church more regularly and encourage myself to find opportunities to learn more about my faith. Since relocating to Cincinnati, is my third Catholic church that I've attended (the others being St. Monica - St. George and Xavier's Bellarmine Chapel).

It's hard not to notice the hugeness of Guardian Angels Church when first turning into the parking lot and driving to the rear of the church. Entering however, it becomes apparent that the congregation is just as large. This is the first church I've come across with an alter located centrally to all the seating. The alter was on a square island surrounded on all four sides with this week's church goers. We sat on one of the smaller side wings, which happen to put us facing towards the backs of the priests for this service.

Being the time of Lent, the alter was decorated with the traditional purple runner, and purple candles were being lit as we sat down to enjoy the service (although one young alter boy had to call in for back up in order to light a stubborn candle). There was a grand organ with fully exposed pipes on the traditional front wall, and stained glass adorning both the side walls.

The service was typical of most Catholic churches with singing, praying, reciting, kneeling, and communion. I felt comfortable with the service and thought I could blend in well if need be. I wouldn't say that the service and homely was particularly directed towards any one group of people, nor would I say that it spoke all that directly towards me.

I jumped right into holding hands with Bradley and Erica while reciting The Are Father prayer, which I thought was a Cincinnati thing to do, but wasn't so popular at Guardian Angels. I think that threw Bradley and Erica for a loop and shocked them a bit. Sorry guys! [Note from Erica: It didn't shock me too much, as they held hands at our other Catholic church.]