The first time I landed at an airport in Europe the passengers all started to clap; I was astounded as I thought landing was the typical conclusion to any airline flight. Where the tradition came from is beyond me, however, over time I have just gotten use to it and find I spontaneously clap as well. This trip has been no different, the passengers applauded the pilot when landing in Amsterdam and again when landing at Entebee.
This afternoon I was privileged to attend my first east African mass. The fact that I am staying at a hotel run by a catholic society led me to believe mass would be a daily offering; however, I was surprised to find out Mass is celebrated on the grounds at around (everything in Uganda is at around when it comes to time) 4 pm. There were about 30 of us faithful gathered together in a hall that also severed as the chapel and Fr. Wilber, recently assigned to Masindi, led the celebration.
The mass went just as I expected for the most part. First, the mass was in English, the official language of Uganda, so it was easy to follow and participate. I anticipated the music would be African gospel and was not disappointed. The music was absolutely beautiful and enhanced the mass enormously. There was no organ or piano. The principal instrument was the voice (if you know me you know I was not a principal instrument) supported by African drums, a rattle that sounded like a maraca, but it was made of bottle caps. The instrument had a main beam the player held and there was 3 horizontal legs of varying sizes that were played by running ones hand over them. There was also a small wash board type instrument. To say the least the music far exceeded any Latin and/or chants I have ever heard in Mass (my apologies to the traditionalists).
The unexpected that occurred, and relates to the applause the pilots received upon landing, was the applause, twice, at the concentration of the bread and the wine. I must admit I think I could catch on to the idea one would applaud the miracle of transubstantiation; needless to say that was my close moment this past week.
I wonder how Fr. David will react when I applaud at Mass?