With the advent of summer, malls have become more crowded than ever. And if there is one thing I need, it is space.
But I put up with feeling like I'm in a sardine can during weekends because one of the best places to hear Catholic Mass in is in the Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord in Megamall.
The original chapel was established on the fifth floor of Megamall way back in 1998 to allow the Philippines' Catholics, to hear mass at a more convenient location.
But due to the huge numbers that hear mass on Saturdays and Sundays, masses were tended to be celebrated in a free space on the fifth floor, which would move around from time to time.
When Megamall was expanded with the addition of a portion it calls its Atrium, the new chapel on the fifth floor was inaugurated on October 13, 2008.
The first thing one will notice when entering the first time is the sheer size of the place. At 1,585 square meters, this chapel will swallow some of the smaller churches in Metro Manila.
As one looks around, one will notice that the place walls and ceiling are quite clean, using simple and neutral colors. There are not intricate carvings or rows of statues to catch the eye. Everything is simple and, dare I say, very utilitarian.
This simplicity is perfect at drawing attention to the Eucharist, with an altar that looks like it harkens back to the days of Rome.
It is very striking when first viewed. But if one looks more closely, will realize that the simple lines were executed using wood in a very good manner.
With over 85% of the population being Catholic, hearing mass has become a natural part of life.
Entire families, from the oldest grandfather to the youngest baby will be found hearing mass Sunday or Saturday, via by anticipated mass.
Unfortunately, with the large population of the country, children can get noisy during mass.
The Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord is probably the only place I have attended mass wherein the noise levels are kept at a minimum.
This is done by lay people who usher children, and at least one adult, to a kiddie room. The sound it pumped in via speakers so both parents and children still get to participate in the mass. But the glass doors are quite efficient at keeping the children's noise within the room.
It would also be helpful to note that baby strollers are not allowed within the chapel itself. Anyone with a stroller is directed to the kiddie room as well.
While baby strollers are not allowed in the chapel, wheelchairs are more than welcome.
The aisles on the left and right sides are wide enough for wheel chairs to be parked beside pews.
And to make things easier for our dear grandparents and disabled they do not have to line up to receive communion. Lay ministers will come over to provide communion to make it convenient for them.
For those without wheelchairs, users will be providing assistance to the elderly and disabled at least one hour before mass.
Since people come in at least thirty minutes before each mass, seating can be difficult to come by.
These ushers provide assistance by looking for vacant seats where the elderly and disabled may sit in.
There does not seem to be a shortage of people who can assist in the mass.
Whether it is the Sacristan to the people handling the first and second readings to the Lay Ministers giving Holy Communion, there are a lot of people who provide assistance.
This make things very quick, orderly, and efficient for everyone.
Perhaps the place where their numbers are felt the most is during Holy Communion.
Of the three aisles, six people, including the priest, are assigned to the front. At least another six will be assigned to the second half of the chapel.
This cuts down the down, by a tremendous amount if I may say, when taking Communion.
In churches with just half the number of attendees, it can take close to thirty minutes just for this portion, but with their numbers, the time needed does not even come close to this.
The chapel is probably very strict when choosing their priest to celebrate mass.
I have never come across a priest with an average homily yet. Every one of them, where it is the permanent or a guest priest is top notch.
The homilies are never boring. They are funny, witty, and are always applicable to life.
And each of the priests that has celebrated mass speaks clearly over an excellent sound system that does not have any distracting echoes.
I would go as far as to say that all the priests chosen here are the cream of the crop and the best of the best because every time I leave the mass at the end, I always end reinvigorated and feeling like I learned something new.
While I feel that the priests never needed to get better, the choir was different; they improved from excellent to something beyond that.
And since I cannot think of a word better than excellent, I will just leave it at that. They are that good.
The only place I have heard a choir of this caliber is when I listen to compact discs.
The hair on my arms would rise when the singers would take over. My wife was nearly moved to tears when they sang regular church songs in new ways.
Together with the excellent sound system, a great priest, the lack of any noise, and the large space, one feels like they are in very, very holy ground; like being so close to God.
My apologies, but my words just can't seem to explain or do justice to how it feels when the choir sings. It's just amazing.
As I mentioned before, I am not someone with the greatest patience when it comes to crowds.
Just like most men, I need my personal space in order to feel comfortable. This is one of the reasons why I avoid going to malls like Megamall.
But with the Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord providing such a wonderful experience, I set my annoyance aside for just a day in order to hear mass on weekends.
My family usually attends the five o'clock anticipated mass on Saturdays and we always come out of it learning something new and feeling wonderful.
So for those of you interested in hearing mass there, I would suggest getting in at least thirty minutes before the scheduled mass to get seats.
Anything later than that and you may have to stand at the back or beside the walls on either side.
And while that may sound tough to do for an hour, you might be surprised that time passes by so fast because of everything the Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord has to offer.
|Service Type||Catholic Mass|
|Saturday Schedule||12:15 pm|
|4:00 pm (Children's mass)|
|5:00 pm (Anticipated)|
|7:00 pm (Anticipated)|
|Sunday Schedule||9:00 am (Charistmatic mass)|
|11 am (Chinese mass)|
|3:30 pm (Tagalog)|
|6:30 pm (Tagalog)|