This week I've been very determined to attend Mass. I'm not picky either. Russian Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, whatever I could find. Luckily there's a nice Korean girl here from Brown that has been attending Mass at a Catholic church on Nevsky Prospect every Sunday. She told me that it was in English and so all week I've been making plans to go there.
I woke up this morning at around 9:00. I knew that I had to get to service soon. So I called Julia (the Korean girl) and told her that I was on my way. Mass started at 9:30. I finally got to wear my suit! I was excited about that. It's just been in my room collecting dust and animal must. I got dressed and I tied the perfect half windsor knot in my tie! So proud of myself. It's symmetrical and thick enough but not too thick. You'd probably see a tie tied like this in a GQ magazine. I looked great.
I saw my babushka when I was running between my room and the bathroom getting ready and she had cooked me oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs. I quickly ate the oatmeal and left the eggs. They serve me tea every morning too. I have never liked tea. Ever never at all. I actually hate it. I can stand Earl Grey with milk and lots of sugar but that's as far as I'll go into tea land. I poured a ridiculous amount of sugar into my tea. Drank about half and then took it to my room and left it right here and it's still next to me half empty.
I'm leaving the house about 9:50. I'm not making bad time at all. It's raining outside and still really cold so I grabbed my umbrella before I left. I must not be feeling well though because I forgot my Yankees hat that I have yet to go anywhere without. It didn't bother me too much cause I was wearing a suit but I just felt like part of me was missing. The Metro was really empty. And I almost accidentally got on the line that takes me to school everyday I immediately realized my error and made a dash to the other side of the station. I get on the train and in 3 minutes I'm at the Nevsky Prospect stop. It's currently 10:05.
I'm freezing cold and rainy and I don't have on gloves and or an overcoat. I can't warm my hands cause I have to hold my umbrella with my right and flip through my blackberry/russian mobile phone with my left for directions to the Church. I wandered almost aimlessly in the area between the Russian Museum and Church on Spilt Blood. The streets are practically empty because most Russians are either still drunk or passed out from Saturday. So I can't ask for directions. I recheck a message she sent me on my blackberry and she said that the address was 40 Nevsky Prospect. Simple enough to follow. I go back to Nevsky and walk a few blocks halfway counting numbers. I saw 25 and 26 and then I saw a big big huge church. It looked old and I thought that the Catholics were closed this Sunday. However, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try and open one of the doors. The first 3 were locked by the last one on the very left was open.
Once inside I immediately looked for the Holy Water that I could splash myself with. Couldn't find it. Strange. Very Strange. I go to my left and I see a receptionist looking lady. She tells me "поеиму дождь. две этаж." translation: "because of rain. second floor." I thank her and proceed to go up to the second floor. Look for the Holy Water and I still didn't see any. I open the door and I felt like I was coming out of the locker room at halftime because the inside of the church on the second floor was just constructed just like a basketball court. Of course there were no goals or anything like that but there was the pulpit up front. Rows and rows of benches where the court would be. And then places to sit on the sides where the stands and crowd would be. It looked really nice. First thing I did was check for Julia but I didn't see her anywhere. And I realized that I was not at a Catholic Church.
Turns out I was at a German Church! I was really confused at first because I thought they were talking in Old Church Slavonic (predecessor to the modern Russian language) but then I heard one of the priests say "der frau" and I knew that I was at a German place of worship. Here's what it was like.
There were two people in front of the congregation. One was an very official looking male priest that spoke in German and the other was a woman also dressed in official church priest attire that spoke in Russian. I'm guessing she was translating. The congregation consisted of around 80 or 90 people. The music was so harmonious! It had that old medieval choir music sound to it. I understood maybe 20% of what they were saying. The service was orderly and there were a lot of songs. I remember saying (silently) a really long Prayer during one. Then Communion was served. It was really different. All Believers that had been confirmed (Konfirmation-German word) went up first. I've been confirmed in the Methodist Faith and I've read enough about religion and been to different types of worship services so I figured I was confirmed enough. We all formed a circle at the front of the church and I was given my wafer and then a person came around with the wine. I dipped the wafer in the wine and that was pretty much it. At some point in time we all joined hands. I forgot if it was before or after Communion. Then all peoples who had not been confirmed went up and did the same process. There was the Benediction and a long organ finishing theme. On the way out the priests went to the back and shook everyones hands on the way out. They were very nice to me. I left Service feeling a lot better.
Everyone there was really nice. I remember a lot of people smiling at me. Probably baffled as to why this good looking young Black man has joined us today. There was also a point in the service in which we could walk around and greet one another. Everyone was really kind to me. I shook their hands and some greeted me in German others in Russian. When I responded using using the same language I was greeted people didn't look stunned or shocked they just smiled even more. I felt really at home. Maybe one day I'll meet a nice German girl and we'll have German kids that speak German, English, and Russian.
I called Julia and told her that I went to a German church but I insisted that she explain to me one more time where the Catholic Church was. She did. And I found it. I don't know How I missed it. It's huge! And was right next to the metro stop where I got off. The German church was actually in the opposite direction. I might check it out before I leave but I'm definitely going to go back and have service with the Germans.
Funny story about German actually. When I was learning my colors in Russian. I was in class and working with the one German girl that takes Russian and she holds up yellow. And I say gelb (German for yellow) by mistake. She starts laughing and my professor cracks up too and proceeds to tell me about all the Germans in Petersburg. At the time I was embarrassed and didn't really listen to what he was telling me but I now know that the Germans here are good people and I'm happy for my experience with them today.
Also. I got another Obama comment yesterday.