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Pilgrims’ Progress: Journal Entries from a 60th Anniversary Pilgrimage – #4

On August 15, 2019, thirteen Canadian Jesuits will note their 60th Anniversary as members of the Society of Jesus.  Two members of this group – Charlie Pottie Pate, SJ and David Eley, SJ  – have chosen to make a special pilgrimage to mark the occasion.  They have graciously agreed to share their journal entries and photos with igNation which will post them once or twice a week.

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#4 Journal, Sunday June 9, Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday is almost gone to bed here!  It has been a gifted day for us here. Hope you all have experienced something of the Spirit this day.

Weather-wise, a lovely mostly sunny day about 17 C. Great for walking about, not too warm or cool. The couple we met on Friday night at the Jesuit community bbq,  Jens (architect) and Helle (linguist and working at diocesan centre helping international priests and lay people coming to Denmark in language and culture study) offered to spend a few hours with us and show us around Copenhagen.

We first went to the Lutheran Cathedral of our Lady (yes! They kept the name it had in the 16th centre before the Reformation). A beautiful clean structure that was renovated by a Danish architect in the mid 19th c. (it’s on same site of the medieval cathedral)

Well, they had the Solemn eucharist for Pentecost (all in Danish of course) with a woman priest, first-rate choir of men and boys and a superb pipe organ. With the help of the program given us and with Helle (she is Roman Catholic tradition,  her husband is Lutheran and they often had brought their children to this church) guiding us we were able to participate as much as we could.

We heard strains of the Latin Veni Creator Spiritus in the organ prelude and postlude, as well as the Latin sequence  Veni Sancte Spiritus, sung antiphonally by the choir and people.  It was truly a wonderful experience.

They used an older form of the Eucharist (a bit like our Latin Tridentine form),  not the newer form (closer to the roman tradition) that Lutherans use in parts of Canada (e.g. Calgary) and USA. The acoustics of the building were also wonderful.  So it was a great way to begin Pentecost Sunday, the evidence of the Spirit at work in an ecumenical setting.

After this, we went to walk around the Parliament buildings and national Archives – buildings that date back to 16th c but have been renovated.  There is a beautiful garden to walk through. We took a photo of the four of us. We stopped and had a coffee and ice cream to sustain us!

Then we went to see the Roman Catholic cathedral St. Ansgar, which has an ancient structure and mosaics like St.Clemente in Rome. There was a Ukrainian Divine Liturgy going on at this time in early afternoon. The church in Copenhagen is multi-cultural, with many liturgical traditions who use the Cathedral as well, our friend Helle told us.

As you may have guessed from my other comments, Copenhagen is as diverse culturally as many large cities in Canada and US like Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver. Many many people of different nations can be seen on the streets and in the churches.

Our friends had other commitments and they left us off at our Hop on, Hop off bus which we then took to a plaza to have a light lunch at a middle Eastern diner where we had our falafels.  We continued on the bus with our driver commenting on the important spots we were seeing on the way. Then we headed back to the Jesuit residence about 4:30 pm.

At 6 pm the Polish Jesuits (who speak English very well) have a Sunday Eucharist for English speaking people in Copenhagen. Some are there for work, some for study. Students, young families. The “pastor” who leads the celebration had ask me if I would give the homily for this Pentecost Eucharist, which I was happy to do.

There must have been 75 people in that chapel. I began by asking what countries they were from – like in the reading from Acts –  from Poland, Canada, USA, Korea, Uganda, France, Italy, etc. etc. All of us there in our diversity bonded by the One Spirit of Jesus and the Father.  I felt very much at home in this group of “immigrant” believers here in Copenhagen. There was a wonderful “feel” in the assembly.  Met a number of them after.

There were even a few Danish people who live nearby and like to come to the English liturgy.  The Jesuit chapel is not strictly a parish but a “College church”  attached to our Jesuit community, a tradition we’ve had since St. Ignatius (e.g. Gesu in Rome or in Montreal). My homily seem to have resonated with many of them as they remarked going out.

Then David and I relaxed and prepared a light supper – omelette, veggies, and Italian white wine!  Fr. Gerhard (the retired German Jesuit) joined us and we had a great conversation about Copenhagen and Denmark and its international dimension.

We both had a deeper sense of the rich history and culture (and developing into multi-cultures) in this city and country in the experiences of the day. The power of the Spirit is at work here and everywhere.  A grace-filled day.

We were both ready for bed. Blessings on you all for reading this long “epistle”.