Hollllla, long title.
But seriously. When I was younger [translation: when I was… 22 instead of the very old, mature 24 of current times] I was really picky about churches. Gotta look like a Catholic church. None of that white-wall stuff. Stained glass was a nice additional feature. Tabernacle needs to be front, and center, and obviously a tabernacle. Kneelers on the floor, you know. Big crucifix on the wall.
Well… life has suddenly found me residing in the southern part of the United States. The Catholic church, while established here and even moreso in recent decades, isn’t exactly the centuries-old institution that it seems to be up in the more northern states. [Such as in Syracuse, NY where there’s an incredibly old Catholic church approximately every mile. Irish and Italian immigrants for the win!]
So, this morning my merry band of four [that is, myself + parents + boyfriend] headed off to one of the local Catholic churches.
I could tell you about all the things that weren’t on the forefront of my “yay!” list. For example… the lack of a prominent crucifix on the wall. I could mention that the tabernacle isn’t at all in the main body of the church and is apparently stored in a different, small chapel. I’ll even let you know that the general layout of the church is like a hallway, with the altar at one end and the lectern at the other, with the parishioners seated on opposite sides not unlike bleachers at a football game. And here’s the thing: yes, all that pinched at my little, traditional, “change is so unnecessary!” nerves. But wait, there’s more.
The priest tied the readings and the Gospel together in a fantastic homily that was convicting in any number of ways [I won’t presume to speak for the other parishioners, but you could find your own nugget of Truth within his words, most certainly]. The music happened to be all hymnal stuff that I knew, or at least was familiar with. The pianist and the flutist made an excellent accompaniment team, and the elderly woman cantoring knew exactly how to lead the parishioners and not overwhelm them. Jesus was present, as He always is at the celebration of the Eucharist.
I left knowing that while this may not be my parish, there’s nothing wrong with a few cosmetic differences as long as you’ve got a faithful priest and Jesus.
Except goodness gracious, folks… install some kneelers. Please.