I invite you to sign The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

Theodore's Memorial Video

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Brother's Father's House

The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, by William Holman Hunt

Happy Father's Day!

This post is not about Father's Day.

It is about a church.

It is about the church where my older brother is Pastor.

By the way, the opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone, and do not reflect those of anyone known to me.

I cannot read minds, either.

I would have to say that in the process of being reassigned from one parish to another, my brother has left one of the most beautiful churches in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia for one of the less attractive ones. Fortunately, both churches are full of good people, good parishioners who are devoted to Our Lord and His Church. The physical plant, thankfully does not always reflect the piety of the occupants.

It is ironic that I should visit his church so soon after reviewing a book about churches in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. In my review of Framing Faith: A Pictorial History of Communities of Faith, I discussed how most of the churches were modified during the late 1960's or early 1970's, and how those changes seemed to relegate God - in particular, the Tabernacle - to the sideline of attention and honor in each church. I speculated that - perhaps - there may be some association between replacing Man for God as the center of the altar and the subsequent decline and closing of the parishes featured in that book. I know there are a lot of other factors which could explain the closing of churches, but I can't help thinking that there may be something to this little pet peeve of mine.

My review of Framing Faith can be read here. My favorite bizarre picture from the book is featured below. It shows the center of the altar of one of the churches. I added the comments to my copy of the picture:

Can you say wreckovation?

Where to start....in Framing Faith, the architecture of a church is compared with the journey of the faithful from birth to Heaven, starting with the baptismal font in the back of church, leading up the center aisle to the altar, then to the Tabernacle, which represents Heaven on Earth. Rather than following their lead, I shall begin at the altar.

As always, I am using that 21st century version of the box camera: my iPhone. Perhaps next time I shall break out my beloved Pentax K-1000. Here is a shot from the back of the church:

Did I mention that the church used to be a gymnasium? It does not matter much, because one has to work with what one has. I would not want to convert a gym into a church, but if that is what it would take to provide for the parish, that is what I would do. Anyways, the pews are actually individual chairs which are bolted together, and each one has its own little kneeler. In the distance, one can see the altar. The Tabernacle is off to the side, behind the lectern on the right hand side of the altar. Here is a closer shot of the altar.

Note the candle by the Tabernacle on the side of the altar. Also note the centralized seating for the priest and altar servers, including a microphone for the celebrant. The marble edifice behind the priest's seat actually has a gap in it where a crucifix could be placed. In addition, there is a shelf of sorts where the Tabernacle could be positioned in the center of the altar. All one would have to do is remove the seats and voila! - Our Lord is back to the place of greatest honor in church.

Of course, one is distracted from looking at the altar when confronted with this construction upon entering the sanctuary:

Yes. It is a baptismal pool. I showed this picture to a friend, who initially thought it was a stairway to a crypt chapel. Perhaps it is - one which can only be accessed with scuba gear.

My brother dryly observed that what looks like a good idea in the theoretical sense often proves to be difficult to achieve in practical terms. I thought about this baptismal pool after he said that; but my first thought was of something from my youthful days in college.

At that time, I was dating a Baptist girl(I think), and she mentioned the exhilaration of being baptized by immersion at some point in the past. Since she did not mention how old she was at the time of her baptism, I thought I would go ahead and ask her. Of course, I did not couch my words in a way which would encourage ecumenism - or mixed marriages, for that matter:

"So, how old were you when you got dunked?"

End of date. It was all for the good, as I am blessed with Carolyn beyond any measure.

Outside, on the parish grounds, there was a beautiful statue of Our Lady:

Now, compare and contrast the church of Mater Dei in Irving, Texas. This was originally a Korean church of some sorts, even including what looked like a dunk tank of all things off the side of the altar. After renovating it, this is what it looks like. Perhaps one day all of our churches will be brought back to putting Our Lord front and center.


Francis said...

Any thoughts on the stained glass windows? Any photos to share? +Fran

dadwithnoisykids said...

Sorry. No pictures of the stained glass windows.

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
Now restored with the help of some cement!

Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

I am An Amateur Catholic Blogger!

Amateur Catholic B-Team Member