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Times, they are a’changing

posted by awelborn

A brand new Catholic church:

Well, who allowed this to happen? Someone fell asleep on the watch, I do believe. Dick Vosko…call your office.

St. James Catholic Church in Charles Town, West Virginia.

A news article about the procession in which articles from the old church were carried to this new structure, to be dedicated on Tuesday.

During Sunday’s procession, church members gathered outside the old church at 311 S. George St., following the last service at the church.

Church members then began their long walk to the new church, carrying statues, items from the altar and the Eucharist to their new home.

One of the items was a large crucifix which held a practically life-size sculpture of Jesus Christ.

The sculpture was separated from the crucifix and was being carried by a group of young people.

"Some of these objects will take a couple of people to carry," said John Sherwood, a church volunteer and coordinator of the dedication.

The procession was draped in formality.

David Galvin, a deacon at St. James, carried a monstrance, which is a gold vessel for carrying the body of Christ. Galvin walked under a canopy being carried by four men and the smell of incense wafted through the air as the party walked past.

[snip]

Many of the church members participating in Sunday’s procession wore red clothing, which was to symbolize the blood of St. James.



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Maria Ashwell

posted July 24, 2006 at 9:26 am


No kidding, my first reaction was, “Oh wow!” My parents parish is almost finished with their new church and it promises to be absolutely magnificent. I can’t wait to post pictures of it.



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chris-2-4

posted July 24, 2006 at 9:51 am


Road Trip!



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Sherry Weddell

posted July 24, 2006 at 10:11 am


We’ve done workshops for and at this parish a couple of times. Fr. Brian is a convert from a Southern Baptist background so we had fun sharing our common roots.
When I was last there (in November) to do a seminar at the Priestfield Retreat center nearby (very nice and with a most interesting past – on land donated by a late 18th century Lutheran family who converted when a Catholic priest was the only one who could deal with their haunted house), I couldn’t see inside so its a delight to see what it looks like. The old Church is very charming as well though small.
Charles Town is very historic – founded by George Washington’s brother and the place where John Brown was tried and hanged. Harper’s Ferry is near-by. This is the part of West Virginia that is almost heaven. Blue Ridge mountains and the Shenandoah flowing peacefully by.



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Seamus

posted July 24, 2006 at 10:21 am


I believe that St. James’ parish in Charles Town is responsible for the beautiful gothic church, St. Peter’s, in Harpers Ferry, which is the successor to an earlier church but dates in its present form from 1896. The church was originally built at a time when there was a substantial Catholic population working at the U.S. arsenal, but in recent years I suspect most of the people attending Mass there were tourists visiting historic Harpers Ferry or hikers on the Appalachian Trail. A quick web search indicates that they haven’t had regular services there for about a decade, which I think is a shame. A church that beautiful ought to be used, if at all possible, not just kept as a museum. Does anyone know whether the parish or the diocese has given any thought to holding Mass again there on a regular basis?



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Simon

posted July 24, 2006 at 10:22 am


Brand new – and it even looks like a real church!
Nunc dimittis servam tuam Domine
Secundum verbum tuum in pace
Quia viderunt occuli mei
Salutarem tuo
Quod parasti
Ante faciem omnium populorum
Lumen ad revelationem gentium
Et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.



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Simon

posted July 24, 2006 at 10:24 am


Italics off, I hope.



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B Knotts

posted July 24, 2006 at 10:30 am


Hmmm…hopefully, this will turn off the italics.

Anyhow, to the people of this parish: well done!

It’s funny/sad how the tried and true architecture was abandoned in the 60s, forgetting that so many features of the traditional design were very practical (high ceilings collect the smoke from the incense, stonework keeps the interior cool in the summer without air conditioning, etc.).



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 24, 2006 at 10:45 am


Anybody have a recommendation for a book (or lengthy essay) which makes the case for maintaining continuity with tradition-minded church architecture? I’ve found snippets here and there in books like Richard Taylor’s “How to Read a Church” and Michael Foley’s “Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Fridays?” (both are highly recommended by the way), but I’d like to read something more comprehensive.



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Sherry Weddell

posted July 24, 2006 at 10:48 am


Yes, St. James is responsible for St. Peter’s in Harper’s Ferry – I’ve been inside with Fr. Brian a couple times and it is lovely – survived the Civil war while the Episcopal church just behind them on the hill did not. They do still have services there occasionally and a local group of enthusiasts offer tours in civil war costume. Fr. Mike Fones, my co-Director, is musical and entertained us with a spontaneous concert on the organ.



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DK

posted July 24, 2006 at 11:14 am


And it even has stained-glass windows! Some Catholic churches don’t even have that anymore. Very beautiful!



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Peggy

posted July 24, 2006 at 11:21 am


That looks awfully big for Charles Town. I used to work in that town. I didn’t know they had an RC parish. I didn’t know there were enough people, much less enough Catholics in the area to fill that Church. Maybe they’re getting visitors from the race track. St. Peter’s at Harper’s Ferry is beautiful as well.
Beautiful!
It is an historic town.



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Todd

posted July 24, 2006 at 11:32 am


It has altar-facing seats in transcepts–that’s not novel; we did that eleven years ago. The server assistant seats next to the priest’s chair: hope those are for concelebrants; laity not allowed, remember?
I’d take exception to this:
“It’s funny/sad how the tried and true architecture was abandoned in the 60s …”
Try the 40′s. Though the points about stone, high celings, and the like are indeed incorporated into church architecture of a progressive bent … when the faith community is primarily invested in churches, and not schools.



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Sherry Weddell

posted July 24, 2006 at 11:43 am


Peggy:
The Church is for the whole area which is now a “commuter” suburb of DC – residents routinely drive 1 1/2 hours into DC and back every weekday. So its growing. The new sanctuary is for the whole region. The historical old church could only hold 1/4 of the congregration at a time.
Remember, Fr. Brian was a Southern Baptist. He’s used to thinking big and he believes in evangelism!



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Peggy

posted July 24, 2006 at 12:11 pm


Sherry,
I know. I just moved from DC Metro after 10 years to IL, where I’m from. We’re starting to ask ourselves why…



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Juan

posted July 24, 2006 at 12:18 pm


I’m hoping for a return of side chapels. Churches need little nooks and crannies for us to hide in and pray intimately, when the large nave sometimes can overwhelm.



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Ken

posted July 24, 2006 at 12:23 pm


It ACTUALLY looks like A CHURCH!



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Ave Maria!

posted July 24, 2006 at 12:48 pm


Very very nice. I live in the desert west and we do not have lovely churches like those although some of the old prairie style churches are lovely in their simplicity. My church is new and it is round. Not lovely. No crcifix other than processional. The tabernacle is in the worship space and we do have kneelers though. The other church in town is grey concrete bricks and also is not lovely.
There is a lovely new church of St. Stephens in Glenwood Springs , CO with the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary depicted on the ceiling. Worth seeing. There is an altar for the gorgeous gold tabernacle and lights to shine on it and it is front and center as it should be. It lifts the soul to be in a beautiful church.



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Josh

posted July 24, 2006 at 12:49 pm


I don’t know about stonework keeping churches cool in summer with no air conditioning. Here in Wichita, if we don’t have the a/c running, the Cathedral gets very humid and hot very quickly. And it is stone, dates from the early 1900s.



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jane M

posted July 24, 2006 at 12:58 pm


http://www.ourladyofhope.net/dedication10.asp
If you go to this link and click on the seventh picture you’ll get a really good picture of the altar of another brand new church which was basically finished this spring. It has a school attached which was finished about seven months before this. So you can have lovely architecture AND a school even in these days.
And if you hunt throught the other pictures I don’t want to hear about the woman who is robed. She was a Lutheran pastor who was invited to the ceremony because this community used her church while they were building their own. Try enjoying the stained glass which was salvaged from older churches being torn down…



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Mike Petrik

posted July 24, 2006 at 1:10 pm


Todd,
You don’t seriously propose that all those orange-carpeted churches in the round built in the 1970s were a product of too much emphasis on Catholic schools, do you?
And while I’m hardly the liturgical expert you are I honestly haven’t seen any of these ugly churches built in the 1940s, but in any case ugly is ugly.



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Simon

posted July 24, 2006 at 1:20 pm


I live in Northern Virginia, and there are a number of architectural botch-jobs around here that date from 1950s. The semi-circular or round look (but without domes) was concocted in that era.
There was also an emphasis beginning in at least the 1950s on fitting the greatest number of people into the building, with minimal regard for traditional architectural or iconographic elements inside. On the outside, most of them look like prisons or unpleasant public schools.



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Henry Dieterich

posted July 24, 2006 at 1:21 pm


This church is beautiful, but I also see by the story that it is expensive, which I could have guessed by looking at it. Our parish built a church that we dedicated in 2001, which also looks like a church, but not as traditional as this one. And it didn’t cost as much. We only have one stained-glass window so far. The pastor wants to put stained glass in all the windows, and a parishioner who is an artist (and iconographer) has prepared some designs. Now all we need is the money. Eight hundred families and a $5 million debt, as the pastor was describing us yesterday.



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ron shapley

posted July 24, 2006 at 1:24 pm


Sia Lodato Gesu Cristo



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Simon

posted July 24, 2006 at 1:26 pm


No doubt it’s expensive. But 10 beautiful churches are better (more pleasing to God and more effective at evangelization) than 15-20 “facilities” built on the cheap.
And traditional architecture certainly doesn’t mean the church has to be completed all at once, or even within one lifetime. There’s nothing wrong, for example, with using plain windows (perhaps with a simple cross in each) for years or even decades until the parish can afford stained glass.



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tony

posted July 24, 2006 at 1:29 pm


Wow, what a beautiful church. I hope this reflects a trend towards more beatiful churches!
Cheers from Canada. Tony.



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Craig Martin

posted July 24, 2006 at 1:31 pm


Rich
Go to the Institute for Sacred Architecture (www.sacredarchitecture.org). Their journal, edited by Duncan Stroik, provides regulare pieces that reflects the desire/need for architectural designs that are both traditional and responsive to Catholic liturgy and theology.



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Anson Groves

posted July 24, 2006 at 1:51 pm


Re: http://www.ourladyofhope.net/dedication10.asp
I notice there are women in the procession, including a priestess in a Roman collar, alb, and stole? Is this a Catholic parish (ie. in communion with the Bishop of Rome), or a protestant “Anglo-Catholic” church (ie. Canterbury)?



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Mike Petrik

posted July 24, 2006 at 2:00 pm


Anson,
Please see jane M’s prior post, to wit:
“And if you hunt throught the other pictures I don’t want to hear about the woman who is robed. She was a Lutheran pastor who was invited to the ceremony because this community used her church while they were building their own. Try enjoying the stained glass which was salvaged from older churches being torn down”
I’m sure you agree that gratitude is consistent with Catholicism.



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Liam

posted July 24, 2006 at 2:28 pm


The degradation of taste began in the interwar period (that is, between the World Wars), after the peak of building of great churches by the likes of Cram, Goodhue, McGinnis and their peers (and the revival of medieval stained glass by Connick and others in the wake of the weirdness of Tiffany-style glass*). More churches were built with commodified designs, though they could be very nice if the site flattered them. After WW2, the great expansion of suburban parishes militated much more heavily in favor of schools over churches, and there were lots of homely and even ugly churches built and some filled with catalog art and furnishings (and some left largely bereft of the same). For many old churches, war surplus paint was the best that could be done to clean up dusty interiors, and it took decades for that problem to get fixed (Boston’s Holy Cross Cathedral leaps immediately to mind in this regard). For many other parishes, Mass was held in the school auditorium for years. Et cet. And as the stock market stalled from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, price pressures and demographic changes were not helping things.
These trends started to soften with greater prosperity in the 1980s.
* Cram and others argued that medieval glass and construction methods could harmonize with the newly emerging theories of modernism by indeed having form indicate function, but not without beauty. Tiffany-style glass violated this notion by introducing perspective and depth into the plane of the windows. But I digress.



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Patrick Rothwell

posted July 24, 2006 at 2:31 pm


“You don’t seriously propose that all those orange-carpeted churches in the round built in the 1970s were a product of too much emphasis on Catholic schools, do you?
And while I’m hardly the liturgical expert you are I honestly haven’t seen any of these ugly churches built in the 1940s, but in any case ugly is ugly.”
Mike,
A lot of the ugly churches in the Washington Archdiocese are the result of “Cinderblock” O’Boyle’s emphasis on (a) building in the suburbs in a hurry and on the cheap and (b) prioritizing the building of schools first and parishes second. We may have been different in that regard than other places which were much more ideologically-driven to dumb-down the sanctuary – I mean worship environment -than any of the Washington Archbishops.
Still, thank God that the West Virginians are rejecting the Robert Hovda school of liturgy. Good riddance to all that.



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Jimmy Mac

posted July 24, 2006 at 3:01 pm


No altar rails? No confessionals? Bah … a bunch of pretenders.
Actually it looks rather Anglican. Lets hope there is a good sound system so the folks way in the back (those who aren’t hiding or ducking out for a smoke, that is) can hear what’s going on.



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Jimmy Mac

posted July 24, 2006 at 3:03 pm


I just noticed this about the new church:
Built on bricks and faith
The construction of the new St. James Catholic Church in Charles Town, W.Va., included a lot of material:
· 66,000 pieces of slate on the roof
· 350,000 bricks on the exterior
· 400 tons of steel
· 62,000 feet of wiring for phones and computers
· 100 new stained-glass windows
· 13 stained-glass windows transferred from the old church
· Several statues carved by craftsmen in Peru
I do sincerely hope that the wiring for phones and computers is NOT available on a pew-by-pew basis!



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 24, 2006 at 3:13 pm


Actually it looks rather Anglican.
It does. It somewhat resembles a church I visited last weekend in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, near Charleston. Parishioners at Precious Blood of Christ church claim it was built in the native “low country” style. Since this area was dominated by Episcopalians (and A.M.E. Methodists) until recently, I presume that style was developed by them.



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Mike Petrik

posted July 24, 2006 at 4:13 pm


Liam, Simon, Patrick et al,
Thanks for the education. I learn so much from this blog!
Cheers,
Mike



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amy

posted July 24, 2006 at 4:17 pm


I think I commented just a couple of weeks ago on the moderne architecture that started infecting the church in the 50′s – what was it reference to? Oh…the Cincy Cathedral. Our parish reflects that, as does the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal – very sadly.
As for the quick building to meet suburban needs – in some cases (not all) many of those churches were built in this way : a multipurpose parish hall first, until we save enough for the church. Sometimes it took decades to get to step 2, and sometimes it never happened before the demographics shifted yet once again.



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Todd

posted July 24, 2006 at 5:02 pm


“You don’t seriously propose that all those orange-carpeted churches in the round built in the 1970s were a product of too much emphasis on Catholic schools, do you?”
Well, as Liam and others suggest, ‘deed I do.
“And while I’m hardly the liturgical expert you are I honestly haven’t seen any of these ugly churches built in the 1940s, but in any case ugly is ugly.”
Well, my former parish in Iowa was one. 1/8 inch marble veneer over cinderblock. Balsa painted gold behind the high altar. Neon light behind the crucifix.
I’d be cautious about confusing pragmatists with progressives. Nobody I know of in the liberal camp advocates the use of carpet of any color.
Let me add another point about “looking like churches.” A long and narrow nave was an architectural necessity centuries ago. I’m not sure that long and narrow is as needful a value to retain today. Hagia Sophia was an inspiring church in its day and it enjoyed a broad, unbelievable expansiveness inside. Building materials today permit squares, circles, or similar shapes of significant sizes. Cruciform, like this church, is nice enough, but let’s not permit a metaphorical excuse for technological limitations to dictate what new churches look like.
And don’t forget: the chief enemy of beauty is not progressive liturgists, but the beancounters with the purse strings.



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Marcum

posted July 24, 2006 at 5:06 pm


Nice circular performance area in the front
where the altar rail should be.
Oh, wait, that would be for the dreaded kneelers amongst us – never mind.
All the way up to the virtual altar stage looks good.



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Mike Petrik

posted July 24, 2006 at 5:09 pm


Todd,
Building materials have long permitted circles, squares and what-have-you. But as Stroik has rightly pointed out, Church architecture should reflect liturgical needs, and this is the reason rectangular shaped naves have been the norm, although they need not necessarily be “long and narrow.”



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Liam

posted July 24, 2006 at 5:19 pm


What circular performance area? Huh? The altar predella for the sanctuary doesn’t offer performance space….



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Mark Wyzalek

posted July 24, 2006 at 5:53 pm


My wife and I attended Mass (Memorial of St. Mary Magdelene) at Immaculate Conception in Jacksonville this past Saturday. Francis Cardinale Arinze was the celebrant and preached the homily. Two comments of his are relevant to this discussion:
1. “If we had more chuches look like this then we would have less trouble in the Church.”
2. Concerning the remote and hidden location of the Tabernacle in some churches he said, from the Gospel of the day, that “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”



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Daniel Mitsui

posted July 24, 2006 at 6:08 pm


And don’t forget: the chief enemy of beauty is not progressive liturgists, but the beancounters with the purse strings.
Bullshit. If that were true then progressive liturgists wouldn’t be spending considerable money to actively destroy beautiful churches worldwide. It doesn’t cost a cent to leave a high altar, communion rail, and statues standing where they are, whereas I imagine there is at least an hourly charge for renting a jackhammer and the dumpsters that they need to rip them out and haul them away.
This is tangential to the discussion of a new church, but I can’t let that statement stand.



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 24, 2006 at 6:23 pm


Let me add another point about “looking like churches.” A long and narrow nave was an architectural necessity centuries ago. I’m not sure that long and narrow is as needful a value to retain today.
The “long and narrow nave” reflected the belief that the Church is the ship that carries us to salvation, with the priest at the helm. (Nave comes from the Latin word “navis” for ship.)
If parishioners are sitting in a circle, looking across an altar in a “theatre in the round,” where, precisely, are they going?



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Patrick Rothwell

posted July 24, 2006 at 6:26 pm


I think Daniel has refuted Todd – at least with respect to wreckovations. Wreckovation construction costs and consultant’s fees are perhaps the least justifiable expenses that the Church has incurred the last 40 years. There was no need to tear down those old high altars for chopping-block or coffee-table altars. None whatsoever.



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 24, 2006 at 6:39 pm


To Daniel’s point about “bean counting”, the renovation of Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral under Dick Vosko cost upwards of $11 million. Members of the diocese were left with a butcher’s block for a central altar, cheap folding chairs instead of pews, and new handicapped-accessible bathrooms.



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Jimmy Mac

posted July 24, 2006 at 7:23 pm


” If parishioners are sitting in a circle, looking across an altar in a “theatre in the round,” where, precisely, are they going?”
How about recognizing that they are a community at prayer as opposed to a bunch of individuals wondering what might possibly be going on?
” The “long and narrow nave” reflected the belief that the Church is the ship that carries us to salvation, with the priest at the helm.”
Dumb me, I thought it was CHRIST at the helm.



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Jimmy Mac

posted July 24, 2006 at 7:26 pm


This is where and how I worship on Sunday. We didn’t “wreck” the old church space. Rather, we made better use of it and incorporated antiphonal seating that has lead to more antiphonal praying and singing.
http://www.mhr.org



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Anson Groves

posted July 24, 2006 at 7:41 pm


“I’m sure you agree that gratitude is consistent with Catholicism.”
Mike,
My mistake, and my apologies. I should have read her comments more closely. And yes, gratitude is consistent with the Holy Faith.
However, how wise is it to dress her like a priestess and allow her to process in with real priests, during a liturgy no less? I think that can cause extreme confusion among the laity that she is a “priest”. Perhaps, gratitude could have been shown by having her sit with the rest of the laity, in the first pew, and be recognized during the homily for her support.



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David B.

posted July 24, 2006 at 8:02 pm


Jimmy Mac,
“Dumb me, I thought it was CHRIST at the helm.”
Well, the priest IS an alter Christus, so yes, it is Christ at the helm, in the person of one of His priests.



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Henry

posted July 24, 2006 at 8:06 pm


Dumb me, I thought it was CHRIST at the helm.
Perhaps you are unaware that — in offering the Sacrifice of the Mass in which Christ is the principal actor — the priest is acting in persona Christi. If so, then “dumb you”, indeed.



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David B.

posted July 24, 2006 at 8:10 pm


Jimmy Mac,
“We didn’t “wreck” the old church space.”
Do you have any “before” pictures you can post. It would be easier to see if it indeed has been wrecked or not. The priest sure does look comfortable outside his clerics, though.



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Maureen

posted July 24, 2006 at 8:16 pm


Re: Lutheran stole chick
Um… if the Catholic parish was meeting in the Lutheran church during the building period, I’m thinking none of the Catholic faithful would have any confusion about who the Lutheran chick with the stole was.
Re: parish all-purpose hall
My home parish had that! Back in the day, our suburban parish met in a renovated barn. It wasn’t a big barn, either — the renovation added a lot more space. :) But Bishop Ford Hall, much added to and changed, is still out back plugging away. And it has a hayloft attic, too! That’s where the big silver crucifix was kept, until Father found it and brought it back down.
But when we built, we built a big brick and wood church with a long, narrow nave. And it kicked butt. But the new new church is a weird circle amphitheater shape thing, I hear. (Haven’t been back, so don’t know.)



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 24, 2006 at 8:29 pm


How about recognizing that they are a community at prayer as opposed to a bunch of individuals wondering what might possibly be going on?
All those poor confused preconciliar Eucharistic saints. Aquinas, St. Teresa of Avila, Alphonsus Ligouri — how did they ever make the calendar?



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Todd

posted July 24, 2006 at 8:32 pm


Interesting commentary, especially the PG-13 potty mouth bits. Hide the little kids, I guess.
I appreciate Stroik’s pedigree as an architect and a teacher, but I fail to see the relevance to the point at hand. There are non-liturgical reasons why Christians moved from houses to public secular buildings. If the 4th century bishops wanted to indulge in a bit of spin control to justify it, whatever. We’re talking squares and circles as building shapes, not subsections.
And while I appreciate Daniel’s sensitivity to art (but not his mouth) it’s a lack of logic that extends to paint all renovations and new buildings with the same brush. We’re talking West Virginia. Good churches don’t come cheap, and if your bishop is telling you to build a school first and your parents are telling you to add a gym, a football field, and computers, Dick Vosko isn’t your problem.
And thanks Rich (bishops and sex abusers, by the way) for pointing out one good metaphor. I’ve heard the nontion of being on pilgrimage, but your image works okay. There are others useful for other churches, perhaps: sharing a family meal, hearing a teacher, being surrounded by saints in a greater community. But let’s be clear: technology dictated what was built before the early 20th century, and an explanation was given later to fit the bill.
We didn’t wreck my Iowa parish either. But the cinderblock high altar simply wasn’t worth saving. Other parishes have made good, bad, and mixed decisions. Why not judge past efforts and new proposals based on their own merits, and not the stories you scare kids with at Tridentine campfires.



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 24, 2006 at 8:47 pm


But let’s be clear: technology dictated what was built before the early 20th century, and an explanation was given later to fit the bill.
Prove it (though I’m tempted to use a PG-13 word here).



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 24, 2006 at 8:55 pm


Why not judge past efforts and new proposals based on their own merits, and not the stories you scare kids with at Tridentine campfires.
Because Sacrosanctum Concilium instructs us to judge them by a particular standard:

there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.



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Jane M

posted July 24, 2006 at 9:28 pm


One more comment on the Lutheran clergywoman. Her husband was also a pastor and so was someone else. They were seated in the front row after a procession which included the entire church because they walked from the school gym over TO the church. All the priests, and there were at least 25, wore chasubles so there really wasn’t any confusion especially since 22 of them wore chasubles that were the same, the bishop wore one that was a little different and the parish priests wore ones that were the same as each other and belong to the parish. I’m guessing the bishop must have dished the other chasubles out? But I can’t imagine how anyone could have *told* her to dress differently.
Todd, my understanding is that flying buttresses were invented because people built churches that were unstable, but amazing and powerful symbols, without them. But, unlike you, I am frequently wrong.



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Todd

posted July 25, 2006 at 2:25 am


Rich, so what you’re saying is that Christians saw their house churches and catacombs as little ships. Then when the public buildings became accessible in the 4th century, we began worshipping in ocean liners of sorts? And when stonemasons and other builders found they were able to build higher than any other building in the square, they just saw themselves building ships taller and longer?
My premise would be that wherever the Christians found themselves, their pastors and catechists would derive images and metaphors from the building to teach the faith. Not so hard as a chicken and egg kind of thing. Where early basilicas are concerned, the building came first, obviously. The Christians took them over, remember?
Naturally, the Hagia Sophia was a rare marvel. As was Notre Dame in the 12th century: those buttresses enabled those loftier interiors. And maybe a bit more light.
For American church architecture, I’d wish for movement toward styles that aren’t imitative knock-offs of European revivalism. I think churches should look like churches, too. But not cheap copies. And perhaps it is possible to return to building churches that are marvels and not pedestrian.
The other thing I like about St James is that the stained glass is on the perambulatory level. That’s cool.



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 25, 2006 at 6:26 am


Rich, so what you’re saying is that Christians saw their house churches and catacombs as little ships. Then when the public buildings became accessible in the 4th century, we began worshipping in ocean liners of sorts? And when stonemasons and other builders found they were able to build higher than any other building in the square, they just saw themselves building ships taller and longer?
Like I said, Todd, prove it. Peppering me with questions doesn’t substantiate your claim.



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Mike Petrik

posted July 25, 2006 at 6:41 am


Todd,
For the life of me I cannot figure out why you think Stroik’s explanation as to why rectangular shaped naves have been the norm is not relevant. Seems pretty spot on to me.
And while you are right that every renovation over the last 30 years has not been a wreck-o-vation, that is a silly straw man. Fine, we will stipulate that some renovations have been well done. But too many of us know first hand what Vosko and his ilk have done to our churches. This had not been a rare phenomenon, Todd. It has been all too common and quite tragic and offensive. It is amusing that you seem to believe otherwise.



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F C Bauerschmidt

posted July 25, 2006 at 8:42 am


It seems to me that some comments are confusing the liturgical with the aesthetic — making aesthetic objections to Fr. Vosko’s renovations, when in fact the real objection is liturgical/theological. From what I’ve seen, the renovations that Fr. Vosko has been involved with are almost always aesthetically first rate. The questionable parts seems to be the liturgical/theological vision that the changes embody.
I say “questionable” and not “wrong” or “evil” because I think Fr. Vosko’s understanding of liturgy is not so much mistaken as it is one-sided. It focuses almost exclusively on the truth that the Eucharist is the banquet of the people of God, and considerably slights other truths — such as the truth that the people of God are hierarchically ordered, or that they are a pilgrim people who are not yet seated at the heavenly banquet, or that the sacraments are awesome and terrible mysteries. The key to good Church architecture, it seems to me, would be to keep all of these things in tension.



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 25, 2006 at 9:30 am


F.C.,
You are giving him — Vosko — the benefit of a pile of doubts. Let’s not forget this is the humble soul who likened his architecture to “reimagining God.” That’s not one-sided; that’s damn-near blasphemous.



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Liam

posted July 25, 2006 at 9:49 am


MHR looks like it’s a community comprised about 80% of men, at least in the gallery for Corpus Christi shots?



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Maureen O'Brien

posted July 25, 2006 at 10:58 am


Re: Vosko
Actually, everything I’ve seen by Father Vosko ranges from aesthetically blah to aggressively ugly. But I suppose someone must share his tastes. The fact that they’re liturgically useless to actively anti-Mass is of course more important than the aesthetic problems, but the aesthetics are bad enough.
Re: church architecture and technology
Church architecture is determined by availability and budget first, liturgical utility (including catechetical and devotional stuff) second, and technology third. However, with true innovations, usually the liturgical/aesthetic concept comes first and the technology to build it comes second. Witness the mind of the church’s desire for bigger domes and taller cathedral towers, which often tragically outran the technology. Also, think of Abbe Suger, who thought of huge stained glass and the rest of the Gothic apparatus because he wanted a building filled with light and color, to represent God and the beauty of creation inside a single building.
The design of a church is, or should be, a microcosm of the Catholic worldview, represented the best way we know how.
I think it’s perfectly proper to object to ugly churches on this basis, especially those whose worldview is “God created His people to go to the Mall and commanded them to build Him a Hotel Conference Center”.



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Todd

posted July 25, 2006 at 11:47 am


Rich, in three instances: the Last Supper, house churches, and basilicas early Christians adapted existing architecture for worship.
The first was a Jewish ritual table meal, the Pesach. Christ presided in a circular setting at table.
The second was obviously an architecture born of need: hosting the celebration of the Eucharist for smallish numbers of Christians. So far as we know, no buildings built as churches exist from the first three centuries. We don’t know how the internal arrangement of houses was changed for Mass. It might be fair to deduce these arrangements didn’t include long-and-narrow unless that was a defining feature of the meeting room in the house.
And in the third instance, basilicas were the public meeting buildings for secular business in the Roman Empire. Christians adapted these buildings as they were.
If memory serves, the Hagia Sophia was unlike any other building of its day. I suspect that the celebration of the Eucharist and internal decor made it identifiable as more than a place of technological awe.
If the bishops of the fourth century had to justify their move to large public buildings (and given the vigor of the early monastics who rejected much of the trappings of city Christianity for a purity in the wilderness) I don’t think it’s a problem to surmise they conceived of some clever metaphors to finesse the process.
As I’ve said many times, it’s dangerous and limiting to permit metaphors to drive aspects like architecture. The Eucharist is defined as a sacrifice and as a meal. The former can be done in any shape building, I would suppose. And if the latter can be drawn out with a circular seating pattern without harm to a notion of sacrifice, who is to say that the meal image of a common table cannot trump a boat?
If you’re bothered by my questions and refuse to answer, I regard that as a compliment.
Mike, thanks for your reply. But the notion that everything renovated since 1965 is the straw man here. That position is logically untenable, and most of us recognize it. I think we also should know that Dick Vosko is not the poster boy the progressives forward as the best of the post-conciliar architectural movement. He wouldn’t be my first choice as a colleague in a parish, let me admit.
And regarding Dick Vosko… He is a favorite for bishops and other leadership types because he is a priest, and he is a heavy hitter. He’s not perceived as soft; ie a process guy. He’s hired by fellow clergy who want a renovation with a priest’s “authority” behind it. I don’t care as much for his style, which is clearly a lightning rod for opposition. And I think an attitude of renovate at any cost–which some pastors of either ideology espouse–is a losing proposition in the long run.
This has been a thrilling discussion. If anyone would like to continue it, just e-mail me and we’ll have a go privately.



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Daniel Mitsui

posted July 25, 2006 at 12:17 pm


But the notion that everything renovated since 1965 is the straw man here.
Because the notion that every renovation since 1965 was bad was stated by…
…who, exactly? Pray tell, Todd, who said that?
Anyone? Anyone?
Straw man indeed.



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Rich Leonardi

posted July 25, 2006 at 12:37 pm


If you’re bothered by my questions and refuse to answer, I regard that as a compliment.
They don’t bother me; they’re just not relevant. And since church architecture evolved considerably since, oh, the fourth century, you really haven’t substantiated your claim that metaphors followed form.



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Tim F.

posted July 25, 2006 at 1:03 pm


This past weekend I heard Father Joseph Fessio speak here in Atlanta. He gave two talks, the second being about our current Pope’s views on the Liturgy. He used then Cardinal Ratzinger’s book The Spirit of the Liturgy as his main source as well as his conversation with the Pope last fall. I purchased the book and have gotten about a third of the way through it. I highly recommend it. The one thing that caused me to comment was mention of house churches in the early Christian period, before public buildings were available. According to Pope Benedict XVI, the Christian church incorporates both the synagogue and the Temple, both word and sacrifice. Or I should say Word and Sacrifice. Now I have not found yet in the book that this view of the church in relationship to the synagogue and Temple arose in the 4th century.( The break between Judaism and Christianity was a couple centuries old reality by then.) I get the impression this relationship goes back to the beginning. According to the Pope, the people in the synagogue faced the place where the scriptures were stored, and in doing so because of their location, also faced toward the Temple in Jerusalem. The Church since the beginning faced not toward Jerusalem, but toward the rising sun in anticipation of the risen Son who is the light of the world. Now I don’t think the Pope made this up. So I have a hard time reconciling this with the “folks in their homes with their TV trays, (ok trays), breaking bread” image put forward so often to justify the dulling down of our liturgy into a “communal meal”, or our churches into “banquet halls”. To answer Todd, I think the early Christians saw their houses not as little ships but as little synagogues/temples.



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Marcum

posted July 25, 2006 at 2:34 pm


>What circular performance area? Huh? The altar predella for the sanctuary doesn’t offer performance space….



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Jimmy Mac

posted July 25, 2006 at 2:50 pm


Liam: you are right about the makeup of our parish. Not your usual place. But if you know anything about San Francisco and the population of where the church is (the Castro District) your unasked question is answered.
David B: “”We didn’t “wreck” the old church space.”
We don’t have any online pix of the old place. What we did was repaint the interior, getting rid of a preponderence of what was affectionaly referred to as ‘whorehouse red’ coloring; moved the altar out into the center of the redesigned seating (making the seating antiphonal; moved the entrance from the back to the side (its original placement; created the eucharistic chapel where the altar used to be and restored a decrepit tabernacle; uncovered and restored 2 windows (one of the BVM and one of St. Joseph) that had been covered over who knows when; restored and enlargened the stained glass windows; put a large skylight in over the altar, improving the lighting; and, because we are in San Francisco, we invested a veritable fortune in bringing the building up to earthquake standards; built a reconciliation room (the confessionals had long disappeared); installed an elevator; took a decrepit space and turned it into a garden patio that is used for social purposes and the source for almost all of the flowers we use in church; refurbished all of the statuary, keeping all the originals; restored the original stations; upgraded the old pews AND kneelers; placed a baptismal pool inside the church by the new front entrance; restored the organ and made the uninhabitable choir loft usable again.
A tremendous amount of the work was done by the parishioners themselves, i.e., refinishing the wood floors; painting; some demolition; redoing the garden patio.
With deference to Rich Leonardi’s comments about nave referring to the church being a ship that carries us to salvation: our antiphonal seating was easy to create because of the size of our “ark” … it isn’t a “ocean liner” in size.
400 people raised and have almost paid off $5.3 million ($2.5 of which was needed for quake upgrades and was donated by an estate)in the course of 8 years.
And, yes, the pastor is comfortable in clericals or street clothes. He has been a priest for about 30 years and doesn’t need to remind us who he is by what he is wearing. He lives out his priesthood on a daily basis and has earned the respect of the parish by respecting the parish as well as his demeanor and obvious attention to how he celebrates the liturgies, the sacraments and how he ministers to the rest of us.
I invite anyone who finds her/himself in San Francisco on a Sunday to join us at the 10 AM mass. You will be amazed by what you see and hear. We are a socially liberal parish that is quite traditional in our worship style. Goodness, we even use Latin, albeit sparingly.



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Tim F.

posted July 25, 2006 at 3:17 pm


Jimmy Mac, I will be in SF next week with my family. I think we are planning to go to Old St. Mary’s Cathedral for Mass on 7/30. Any info would be nice. I understand there is a parish picnic after the 11:00 AM Mass. I don’t think my wife, the vacation planner, has us going to the Castro district though. ;)



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Jimmy Mac

posted July 25, 2006 at 4:05 pm


OSM is very good. Check out their website:
http://www.sanfranciscochinatown.com/attractions/oldstmary.html
I don’t know anything about a picnic there, though.
I also think that you, your wife and kids would enjoy MHR, irrespective of the location. We do have women and children coming, you know! You would be very welcome and very comfortable.



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Liam

posted July 25, 2006 at 4:22 pm


I’ve heard wonderful things about the choral music program at St. Dominic’s (an old choir friend who moved back to SF is in that choir). And the family of an old pastor of mine (who also moved back to California) has deep roots at St. Agnes. That’s my knowledge of San Francisco Catholic churches (except hearing nice things about the renovation of the church over at USF). One of my closest friends who moved out of Boston has been a regular at St. Columba’s in northwest Oakland for the past five years. That covers my East Bay knowledge.



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Jimmy Mac

posted July 25, 2006 at 8:24 pm


I live in the East Bay. Our Lady of Lourdes on the lake in Oakland did a nice job of rehab, unless you don’t like church in the semi-round. They also rescued the organ from the old Cathedral that was destroyed in the 1989 earthquake.
Most of the EB parishes tend to be suburban and, hence, super “ocean liners” in size. Way too impersonal for me. I much prefer making the 30 minute commute to MHR.
St. Columba’s ministers to the Afro-American community and has very upbeat liturgies. If you are looking for a 55 minute special, don’t go there! 2 hour liturgies are not an exception to the rule. The music is fantastic, as is the preaching.
Yes, the choir @ St. Dom’s is good, albeit VERY traditional in their approach to music. Again, it’s a matter of taste … and it isn’t mine.
St. Agnes is a Jebbie parish … very liberal, good liturgies, open to all. It’s quite popular.
The uber-liberal enclave in the EB is Holy Spirit, the Paulist-run Newman Center @ Cal Berkeley. The physical structure is one of the coldest I’ve ever seen (virtually all concrete, including the altar, presider’s chair, etc.)
For those of you who want things uber-pre Vat II, St. Margaret Mary’s in Oakland offers the Tridentine specials every Sunday. Not an Novus Ordo in sight, or so I am told. I have never darkened their door, nor do I intend to. I had enought of THAT in my childhood and minor seminary.



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Tim F.

posted July 25, 2006 at 9:01 pm


Jimmy Mac,
Thanks for the info on the Bay Area churches.



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Marc

posted July 26, 2006 at 3:10 pm


Oh Jimmy – please update your facts please:
St. Margaret Mary’s in Oakland offers:
“3 forms of the holy Mass each Sunday”
8:30 English
10:30 Novus Ordo Latin
12:30 Tridentine 1962 Latin
Also daily English and Tridentine low Mass.
The music is the finest in the area (note: if you are attracted to traditional orthodox Catholic liturgical music).
The parish (Oakland Diocese) is a magnet for Catholic home schoolers (TORCH) in the greater East bay.
Bishop Vigneron has attended several events and also celebrated the Tridentine Mass.
My family attends St.M.M.’s and love the parish.
Jimmy said:
“For those of you who want things uber-pre Vat II, St. Margaret Mary’s in Oakland offers the Tridentine specials every Sunday. Not an Novus Ordo in sight, or so I am told. I have never darkened their door, nor do I intend to. I had enought of THAT in my childhood and minor seminary.”



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Sylviange

posted July 26, 2006 at 4:10 pm


I have the great good fortune to attend this church. The spirit of the people of this parish is as genuine and beautiful as the new church. We are blessed to have each other, Fr. Brian, and Deacon Dave.



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Mark Wyzalek

posted July 26, 2006 at 6:22 pm


I the occasion to attend a Tridentine Mass this past Sunday and it made me very grateful for Vatican II and the Mass in the vernacular. And I grew up with the Tridentine.



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Jimmy Mac

posted July 26, 2006 at 7:46 pm


I stand corrected about St. MM’s liturgical offerings.
I hope that those of you who go there, enjoy it.



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Brian Michael Page

posted July 27, 2006 at 5:15 pm


So far the new church is very impressive, compared to most of the Vosko and Vosko-style banquet halls you see these days. And you can bet the music is good – the music director is Gary Penkala of CanticaNOVA Publications.
Peace,
BMP



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LONG LIVE HEZBOLLAH

posted July 28, 2006 at 6:45 pm


CATHOLICS WILL ROT IN HELL CATHOLIC CHURCHES SHOULD BE BEURNED THE POPE WILL BE SERIOUSLY WOUNDED



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LONG LIVE HEZBOLLAH

posted July 28, 2006 at 6:49 pm


CATHOLICS WILL ROT IN HELL CATHOLIC CHURCHES SHOULD BE BEURNED THE POPE WILL BE SERIOUSLY WOUNDED CATHOLIC PRIESTS ARE THE AGENTS OF THE DEVIL ISLAM IS THE ONLY TRUE RELIGION



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Steve

posted July 30, 2006 at 6:27 pm


It’s a barn…
Shure it has a marble altar but no Stations, no Statuary, a blank reredo.
It looks like a High Anglican cathedral.



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Patrick

posted July 31, 2006 at 12:04 am


I desire to bring to mind the “wreckovation” at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. While it is out of keeping with the architecture of Patrick Keeley, the architect, and it looks Episcopalian, and yes, is bare and deserted, it was done with quality materials.
It has a marble altar, marble wainscotting, and numerous bronze reliefs. All done in keeping with the style of the time.
To defend the pastor and architect of Saint James out east there, it looks like they used quality materials. And designed in the desired style of the time, a lovely, lovely example of what Catholic churches could and should be at minimum.
And finally, not all churches after the war, or after 1950 were dreadful. Queen of All Saints Basilica in Chicago is a beautiful church, marble galore, lovely hammer beam ceiling, high altar, mosaics. Again I think quality over quantity is most important.
Give credit where credit is due, and most importantly, if your faith is shaken by ugly churches, theres a problem. The real focus is in a church is Christ made present at the altar during Holy Mass, and our Blessed Lord reserved as prisoner of the tabernacle, gift of the Most High God, for our nourishment and our redemption.



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Steven

posted August 3, 2006 at 11:06 pm


No altar rails? No confessionals? Bah … a bunch of pretenders.
Actually it looks rather Anglican. Lets hope there is a good sound system so the folks way in the back (those who aren’t hiding or ducking out for a smoke, that is) can hear what’s going on.
There are confessionals. And as for people ducking out, you have never heard one of Fr. Owens homilys.



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Steven

posted August 3, 2006 at 11:13 pm


“It’s a barn…
Shure it has a marble altar but no Stations, no Statuary, a blank reredo.
It looks like a High Anglican cathedral.”
The stations have been installed in the side asiles so you actually walk the stations. As for the statuary it is being hand carved in Peru and is scheuled to be here by next summer.
Many items will be added as they are completed and as they arrive.



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William

posted October 12, 2006 at 11:24 am


Along and fairly narrow nave is actually better acoustically for the unamplified human voice than the “wide open” layouts of many newer churches.



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WekOpippige

posted October 12, 2007 at 1:44 pm


I just got an email
Who would have guessed Ameritrade? Only through the application Cooltrade
Monthly subscription of $39.99 a month. No Contracts.
*For beginners, you can execute manual trades or confirmation of trades.
**Prices only valid if trades are made through the CoolTrade application.



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