Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Catechism in Flesh and Stone

Sacred Heart is a quiet little Polish Church nestled in a neighborhood adjacent to ours. We thought we'd go to Mass there today just to check it out (this is the good kind of "cafeteria Catholicism"). Besides, we were running late and they had an 11:30 as opposed to our parish's 11:15 (thanks a lot new Daylight Savings Time "Change Things Early" Idea!) What a happy discovery. The church was small but packed with theological delights. Marble stations with polish titles, powerful portraits of the Apostles flanking the nave of the church, luminous stories in stained glass above us, and a massive mural behind the main altar that looked like a scene right out of Heaven. Granted, the angels were wispy, pale, and pre-Raphaelite. I think they are a little more awe-inspiring than that. Why else would they always say "Fear not!" when they appear to us in the Bible? But the thoughts these heavenly creatures inspired were.... heavenly. Bearing their incense and bowing in adoration, they formed a circle of praise around the high altar and brought our eyes to rest on the tabernacle where the King of Kings presided. The polish priest had such a thick accent, it was as if Pope John Paul II were back at the altar: "Praizzed be Jay-soos Kryst!" His homily was strong and clear, his posture one of reverent love. And although every Mass is of course deeply nourishing because Jesus comes into our very flesh, this one had a real "stick to your ribs" kinda feeling that has stayed with me throughout the day. So thanks to the builders of that beautiful catechism in stone, and to the priest who was God's love in the flesh.

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