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238: Centro Católico de Evangelización, Verbum Dei, Siete Aguas, Valencia, Spain
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Siete Aguas, Valencia, Spain
Mystery Worshipper: Terry.
The church: Capilla Larga of the Centro Católico de Evangelización, Verbum Dei, Siete Aguas, Valencia, Spain.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: Inside: about the size of a Boeing 737 cabin, with bare stone walls, blue carpet, and low chairs and cushions. Despite the small windows it didn't feel like a cave. Outside: simple Spanish countryside building, in a beautiful landscape.
The neighbourhood: The village, on a hill several hundred meters outside Siete Aguas proper, was built shortly after the Spanish Civil War as a veterans' settlement. It was abandoned after a few decades, the veterans having died, needing constant medical care, or preferring to live in a less remote corner. When the Fraternidad Misionera Verbum Dei, one of the numerous new spiritual movements in the Catholic Church that have been founded after the Second Vatican Council, was looking for a retreat centre in the late 70s, it was offered the village. The members restored the dilapidated buildings and re-dedicated 10 rooms as chapels.
The cast: Celebrant: Fr. Tito MVD. Preachers: Angelica Manersich, Sr. Susanne Karner MVD, Kathi Karl.
What was the name of the service?
Sunday Mass. It was the Mass that formally ended a week's retreat (of spiritual exercises in the Ignatian tradition).

How full was the building?
It was full, with about 35 people. The "Boeing 737" had non-standard seating, leaving plenty of space for each person.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
No, as we all had seen each other daily for at least one week.

Was your pew comfortable?
The low chairs were painful for people with back problems like me, so I preferred to sit on the floor.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Absolutely quiet. We all knew that the silence we'd been in for one week (with the exception of participation in the liturgy) would end after that mass.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"En el nombre de Padre y del Hijo y del Espiritu Santo, Amen..."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Cancionero de Verbum Dei, the movement's hymnbook, and Bible (usually Biblia de Jerusalén, a few German Einheitsüebersetzung, and one NIV).

What musical instruments were played?
Guitar – there were two musicians, one sister played the Spanish songs, another one (a Hungarian) a German song before the Alleluia and the Alleluia itself.

Did anything distract you?
The Hungarian and the Germans couldn't agree on the tune of the Alleluia.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Formal but not stiff, rather relaxed. As all the congregation were either members of the movement or theology students, everyone felt comfortable in the liturgy. They knew what to say and do.

Siete Aguas, Valencia, Spain

Exactly how long was the sermon?
There was a 3-minute introduction by Fr. Tito, followed by Angelika (5 minutes), Sr. Susanne (7 minutes) and Kathi (5 minutes).

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Angelika and Kathi (students from Germany) and Sr. Susanne (a German Verbum Dei member) gave testimonies about how Jesus had changed their lives. They spoke about how secular – and difficult to convert – Germany is, and what a difference faith makes.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The entire service.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Verbum Dei is prepared for multilingual events: several headphones were there to provide a simultaneous translation for the seven Germans who were participating. I was sitting near the sister who was translating and so I had to listen to one language I'm not really familiar with and one I don't really know – simultaneously.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No chance to look lost among people you've been together with during a retreat. We happily chatted after having been silent for a week.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee, but cleanup duty. We were the last group of the season and had to clean the entire village. Not exactly fun!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – The centro is a retreat centre, you don't usually live there. But I'd come back any time for my next retreat, although not at the end of the season if possible.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
YES! The retreat helped me deepen my relation to the Lord, and the Sunday mass was a fine ending.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
As Sr. Susanne didn't quite trust her Spanish, her testimony was translated into Spanish by another sister. As one sentence aroused unexpected laughter, Sr. Susanne turned to her translator: "What are you actually translating?"

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