There is no Roman Catholic Church anywhere near, but there are Greek Orthodox Churches applenty. According to the R.C. Code of Canon Law, if there is no R.C. Church to go to, it is perfectly legitimate to hit up the local Greek Orthodox Church. Their sacraments are considered valid, because their priests are validly ordained by successors of Peter etc etc.
If you are not Catholic, are you confused yet?
However, according the Greek Orthodox Church, I am not allowed to receive, say, Communion in their Church, since they believe that they are the one true Church, not an offshoot of the one true Church, and I would have to baptized into them first, or something.
So I can fulfill my Sunday obligation according to my rule book, but not receive any sacraments, according to their rule book. However, apparently (and this passed onto me by the wife of a Greek Orthodox priest), they don't have anything like a Canon Law, so if I got chummy with the priest, and went to Divine Liturgy a few times in a row, he would probably let me have communion anyway. Apparently they have a fair amount of wiggle room?
Anyhow. I was told to arrive at 8:30 am. For the first time in my life, I was actually about 15 minutes early for Church, rather than the reverse, and I walked in to the middle of some lovely chanting. I found a seat, and sat down to observe. The church was filled with 90 percent old ladies, 10 percent old men, and was about 1/3 full. At 8:30 on the dot, the lights of the (GORGEOUS) church came up, and what seemed like the whole village poured in. And then Divine Liturgy started.
It was a lot more chaotic than what I am used to. People wandered around during the whole Liturgy - lighting candles, kissing icons, having the occasional short chat with someone. People came in at the Gospel (or what I presume was the Gospel), and then left; some who had come in right at 8:30 left immediately after the Gospel was read. Some people came in at the consecration and then left directly afterwards. And, oddest of all, about 4 people received Communion out of the whole jam packed church.
Is this a particularly sinful village, or are people just way to hot to move out of their seats?
The second after the priest dismissed everyone, a babble of voices fit to raise the roof was set loose, everyone grabbed a piece of bread from a basket, and booked it on out of there. They proceeded to the square outside the church, and were given food of some kind in little baggies, with the name of the church printed on them (Agios Georgios), and then rapidly dispersed.
I was left sitting alone on a bench, feeling rather blenderfied. It was like the difference between a piece of fish with a butter wine sauce Frenchy style, and a fish curry Indian style. Both are lovely, but one turns you on your head more.
My only other comment: it was hot in that church. I am tempted to finance an air conditioner since I have to go there for the next bit. The internets had told me that the Greek Orthodox, especially in small villages, are very "conservative." This, according to my web searches in which I was trying to discover if I could wear shorts (come ON, I am walking for 20 minutes up hills, through an olive grove), means skirts below the knee for ladies, no bare shoulders, and quite possibly a head covering. I, therefore, donned a knee length sleeveless dress, put a sweater in my bag, and did not go as far as a head covering.
Outside the Church I put on my sweater, and sweltered through the next 45 minutes of my life, until I looked up and saw about half a dozen women in sleevless shift dresses. Not only that, but a few of those dresses were a fair bit above the knee. Not only that, but there was only one head covering. Not only that but there were actually a few pairs of pants on the legs of ladies.
Waitasecond......was the internet wrong?! I huffed in furiousness, having almost keeled over from heat stroke, and stripped off my sweater.
And I thought I could always trust the Internet.