Pilgrims’ Progress: Journal Entries from a 60th Anniversary Pilgrimage – #11

On August 15, 2019, thirteen Canadian Jesuits noted 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.


Today David and I took a side trip to Uppsala about 35 min train drive north of Stockholm. It’s a beautiful university city with a medieval, late Gothic Cathedral. The weather was great. We took an early train at 9:09 to give us time to visit the Cathedral before the 11 am “High Mass” as it is called, the Sunday Eucharist for the feast of the Trinity. (High Mass is an older term we RC’s used for a Mass with singing of all the parts of the service. Now we might call it a more solemn celebration as we do on regular Sundays).

Well, this building is a marvel to see. See photo of exterior.  It is late Gothic, 1400’s when it was finished but begun 200 yrs. before. So space and light and vaults and stain glass windows are all part of such buildings. And it was all that and more. With the Reformation, this originally RC cathedral became the Lutheran cathedral of the Church of Sweden.

It is quite a different architecture than the one I described in Copenhagen.  This is like going into Notre Dame in Paris, on a smaller scale but still quite amazing. .. . . One of the kings of Sweden decided to make the “Mary Chapel” present in all Gothic churches the place he would be buried. So Mary lost her place there after it became a Lutheran cathedral. However recently the Cathedral wanted to bring Mary back into the Cathedral in some way and they commissioned a statue – not the usual ones we see in our RC churches (some of which even some Catholics have difficulty relating to) but an ordinary woman in a searching kind of mode. See photo. Both David and I thought it could have been given a better context. But it is what it is now.

But the Eucharistic celebration itself was beautifully done,  a prayerful pace and with lots of great music,  some chant, some familiar congregational hymns we sing in RC services (Holy God we praise thy name, e.g. For Trinity Sunday). We used the same readings as in RC service. The choir was up front led by the organist. A small group of about 20 but very good voices.  Led by a woman priest with deacon and server. They followed the same ritual we  RC’s use on Sundays,  even the Preface of the Eucharist prayer sung by the presider…. The Lord be with you… Lift up your hearts, etc.

Even some of the music had sounds from chant Masses that we used to sing. But they were new compositions.  The pulpit in the photo was a common piece of furniture in the late Gothic and baroque periods. Jesuit churches all had them. They emphasize the important of the Word being preached, which Luther and the reformers strongly encouraged in the 1500’s and on. The presider gave the sermon/homily from there. She spoke very well and even tho’ we didn’t understand it (all in Swedish) she had a good presence and was speaking to the congregation in a conversational tone.

I could go on and on. But just to say it was a wonderful spiritual moment to celebrate this feast with our Lutheran brothers and sisters, and to see how similar our liturgies are. After the service, we had a light lunch at their Cathedral Café – soup and shrimp salad.

Then we explored the university grounds a bit and there was another smaller neo-Gothic church that apparently the Campus chaplaincy uses for their services. Half the size of the Cathedral, still a beautiful building with paintings on the walls and ceilings. Goes back to the 1400’s as well.  They seemed to have had a concert recently in church since they were taking out some instruments.

By the mid afternoon temp had gone up to 24 or so in the sun. I took a quick tour of the botanical gardens just next to a huge park with lots of trails and trees. Would have been fun to explore this as well. But time and energy are factors at work.

We left for Stockholm about 3;30 and we’re tired enough after that outing.  We had a light supper with another visitor in the house and then a brief walk in the public garden opposite the Jesuit house. Lovely evening breeze.

Thanks for taking time to read all this…..Oh, I forgot, I did light a candle at the entrance of the church on the candle stand  and remember you all before the Lord.

Charles Pottie Pate, SJ, is the Prairie and Rockies regions Ecclesial Assistant for CLC. He resides at St. Mary's Cathedral Rectory, Calgary.

  • Mary C Johnston
    Posted at 22:23h, 06 September Reply

    I love your open attitude to other denominations we are all one in Christ , and am enjoying your account of your travels. I was really touched by the statue of our lady in today’s garments. It made her seem so much more relatable .

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 23:37h, 06 September Reply

    Thank you Charlie!

  • Janet Somerville
    Posted at 01:18h, 07 September Reply

    Dear Father Charlie,
    Your reflection on the Lutheran liturgy and its commonalties with RC liturgy, and your experience of the living faith of that congregation, stirred my ecumenical heart with joy! Thanks for sharing this.
    Speaking of great liturgy, I wish you could have been with us for the heartfelt, Spirit-filled, jam-packed Mass of the Resurrection for our beloved Father Doug McCarthy! It was truly wonderful. It included an elder (a woman) from Wikwemikong incensing all the concelebrants with cedar smoke and an eagle feather. And Father Foliot’s sermon was so ardent and loving that it is being circulated eagerly by many who heard it; I have received it from 3 people already, even though I was there in the flesh and gratefully heard it myself. Voyage on, dear friend…Janet Somerville

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