Friday, 30 September 2011

Cathedral Worship

Attendance at Anglican services is generally static or falling slightly, but cathedrals are bucking the trend, recent research shows. Midweek attendance, particularly, has doubled over the past decade. There is an increase in the number of adults and children coming to worship regularly. The research singles out St David's cathedral in Wales where visitors said they found the cathedral 'spiritually uplifting' and gave the 'sense of peace' as a reason for their attendance. So I was interested to read the following passage in Alison Pearson 's novel How Does She Do It? about a harrassed working Mum with two children and a high powered career (recently made into a film featuring Sarah Jessica Parker):

 [p.133] Cathedrals are built to inspire awe. Sacred fortresses, they look as though they have been lowered from heaven onto a hill. St David's is different....I love this place. The ancient chill that fills your lungs when you push open the door - the trapped breath of saints, I always think...St David's is one of the few places that bids me be still. And here in the nave I realise that, these days, stillness is an unaccustomed, even an uncomfortable sensation.. The cathedral is timeless and my life.. my life is nothing but time... I find my mouth forming words no one can hear: 'Help me.' 

The value of stillness may be underestimated by churches. Are services sometimes too irreverent, too noisy, too geared to standards generated by the world of entertainment when what many people long for is space and stillness in which they meet God?
Just a thought - maybe we should make sure that, in every church, there is a regular service for those who are drawn to quietness, simplicity, silence.  

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