The Roman Catholic Church is among the oldest religious institutions in the world. More so, being a religious site, the church observes various artistic expressions in many of their religious rituals, say baptism. The Roman Catholic art is made up of different visual works which are significantly observed by its believers as an illustration and a supplement that tangibly portrays the teachings of the church. This paper is a description of my visit to a local Roman Catholic Church as well as my observation about their use of artistic expressions in their religious rituals.
My visit to this religious site took place on a Sunday morning during the routine Sunday service. Upon my entrance into the church, the first thing that struck my eyes was a long, sleek, purple curtain that hung behind the altar table. In front of the curtain, a long crucifix hung down from the ceiling. In my observation, the auditorium was typical in this religious site since the altar table that had lit candles sat at the center of the stage, and the pulpit with wood sculptures of the Stations of the Cross was to the left. An usher in a white cloth directed me to a seat in the middle of the congregation and after a short while, the priest accompanied by two altar boys, who held Cross carvings in their hands, walked down the aisle during the procession and occupied the central most position of leadership in the church.
The service commenced with the prayers which were initiated by the priest and who after a while, gave the short homily. Though never seen, there was the organist and the violinist who both artistically played from the balcony. On this very day, it was scheduled that Baptism, a common religious ritual in the church, of two children would take place. In front of the church and close to the altar, were potent symbols of Baptism such as water, oil and some candles (Hanson, 2016). The priest prompted the congregation to sing a psalm that I thought was suitable for the ritual. In the company of other ministers of the church, the priest walked down to where the children, their Godparents, and their parents were waiting. The baptism process began with the celebrants questioning the parents and a scriptural reading, and a homily is made. As it is what seemed to me as customary in the religion, the entire congregation, except myself made the sign of the cross with their hands and was accompanied by the words In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. With wooden cross calving held up in the air by one of the celebrants, the priest, the leader of the celebrant, poured water on the childrens heads and a short prayer made. This marked the end of the ritual Baptism and the congregation sits.
Being the ideology of people from diverse faiths coming into a mutual understanding intended to allow them to live in cooperation with each other regardless of their differences, various religious issues are associate with the interreligious dialogue. With this kind of dialogue, people lead a normal life as they come into daily contact with each other. Issues such as polarization between members of a society build up due to religious diversity and consequently building friction and hostility among the people (A Journey Together, 2016). For instance, in Ireland, interreligious dialogue makes it clear that it is not an attempt at converting people from one religious faith into what they are not. Interfaith dialogue allows people to remain true to their own faith but dissolves polarization that builds up due to the diversities in faith. As a result, interreligious dialogue seeks to do the following:
i. To build confidence and understanding hence overcoming tensions.
ii. Destroy stereotypic barriers which build polarization, bigotry, and distrust.
iii. Increase mutual understanding and good relations among different religions.
Hanson, R. (2016). Baptism Symbols. Retrieved from http://baby.lovetoknow.com/baptism/baptism-symbols
A Journey Together. (2016). CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE? Retrieved from http://www.coistine.ie/what-is-interreligious-dialogue
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