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On Sunday December 3 I attended the Solemn Mass at the Church of the Advent in the North End Now you have to understand that I am religiously challenged at best Ive been to my share of weddings and funerals but growing up I averaged one regular church service every year or two When I did go it was either to Hardshell Baptist or Dunkard Bretheren services with my father or mothers side of the family respectively Both these denominations focus heavily on simplicity and egalitarianism The churches are usually one room wooden affairs with a simple lectern The music draws heavily on the English folk tradition and the service is delivered in a straightforward manner Imagine my trepidation then when I walked into this church with its high vaulted ceilings and an enormous emaciated and slightly malicious-looking Christ figure suspended thirty feet among my head As I came through the entrance the prelude began It sounded like nothing less than the soundtrack to a horror movie as the slasher is about to leap out and dice an innocent schoolgirl The organ wailed in threatening building minor chords and did nothing to allay my trepidationI quickly found a seat in the back of the room Then what did I behold but a procession of similarly robed somber looking men waving banners crosses and other crystal and gold implements above their heads As the leader passed me he began swinging a golden canister about his head and noxious fumes poured out My eyes and throat burned and I thought some sort of crazy cultists had gassed me The moment passed however and I realized that they were the leaders of the church and it was nothing but incense After parading in laps around the sanctuary the procession moved to a raised platform upon which they performed strange rituals before an enormous granite-looking monolith I later found out that this monolith was the altar the first of
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