Brick by brick in Williamston, MI

For your Brick by Brick file… from a reader:

After decades with no crucifix and no tabernacle in the sanctuary (other than a processional cross), both were installed this week in anticipation of the Christmas season. This is a temporary solution, using what was available to us, but is definitely a great first step. Our parishioners (99.9% of them) are overjoyed, at least one even breaking down into tears. Our priest has been slow in steady, catechizing for over a year, in preparing for these changes and is truly to be praised and continued to be encouraged for working towards this. You can see pictures of the old and updated parish here.

WDTPRS KUDOS.

This is what needs to be done.

(NB: The photos at that page are really large, if you are thinking about looking from your mobile phone.)

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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25 Responses to Brick by brick in Williamston, MI

  1. teaguytom says:

    The new design is 100% better. Placing a tabernacle and a Crucifix behind the altar makes the sanctuary look Catholic. They could probably scout around and slowly replace the candle stands and weird wood pillars with stands and maybe a couple statues from a closed parish. Things that they can afford . Then when they can raise the money, they can ship the bathroom vanity altar and matching wood trashcan ambo to the nearest Texas Roadhouse restaurant. I’ve seen some pretty weird table altars, but that is really minimalist. I doubt the Protestants want it.

  2. tobiasmurphy says:

    Haha…this guy is a friend. Nice job!

  3. Cazienza Puellae says:

    The crucifix is lovely and the wood of the tabernacle stand (throne? I’m not up on the lingo) has a wonderful warm gleam to it.

    I find it so encouraging to hear of parishoners weeping with joy at the ‘externals’ reappearing. Such a beautiful expression of, if I may abuse the term, the sensus fidelium.

  4. benedetta says:

    Thanks for posting this wonderful news. May God bless that pastor and all of the parishioners. “Behold, I will do something new…”

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    Our priest has been slow in steady, catechizing for over a year, in preparing for these changes and is truly to be praised and continued to be encouraged for working towards this.

    The web site obviously shows a parish headed in the right direction, led by a pastor deserving of commendation. However, I always wonder why anyone would think a Catholic parish has to be “catechized” to adore Our Lord in His sanctuary. As though something else might properly be done there.

  6. benedetta says:

    Henry, Where I grew up the tabernacle and crucifix are commonly removed from the sanctuary and for young and old, the teaching about the Eucharist generally speaking omits the central doctrine of the Real Presence and the Eucharist has been reduced to a symbol (and I quote). There are generations who have grown according to this false teaching. The worship and catechesis are quite intertwined in this way unfortunately. In such places people kind of regard worship as merely a “gathering” and that very word is used and overused as if it is a liturgical term. But not all gather and how could one expect it, just to gather round a symbol and sing each other’s praises. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is virtually unheard of and Adoration happens in some places where parishioners request it but it is regarded by those in power as just another equal offering among so many other strange things. But as the little Christmas saying goes, “Wise men still seek Him.”

  7. Liz says:

    Just reading about this fills me with excitement and hope. What a joyful thing right before Christmas! Thanks for sharing! I will go look at pictures.

  8. Liz says:

    Okay, the pictures did move me to tears. That crucifix is so beautiful and the tabernacle is nice. We have a few churches in town that are modern and lack beauty. Sometimes during mass I am distracted by mentally redesigning them, especially one where they have not restored the tabernacle to the center, and there is not much to look at. Something like this is not so difficult and it gives people something very beautiful to look at and focus on. Exciting!

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    Benedetta, I’m well aware of the pervasive Church problem of the minority who’ve lost their faith dictating to the majority who haven’t. I was thinking of the preceding sentence:

    Our parishioners (99.9% of them) are overjoyed

    My doubt was whether this preponderant majority of the parish required a whole year of catechesis. I don’t recall any such necessity when our then new pastor — too soon (for us) plucked from the parish for appointment as bishop of another diocese (their gain our loss) — moved the crucifix and tabernacle back behind the altar in our round gathering-place parish church. (Although I heard a rumor that the usual handful had requested and received a brief but cogent explanation.)

    I do recall a one-page parish bulletin announcement of why we were introducing more Latin in the Mass. (“Latin is like lima beans — good for you, whether you like it or not.”) [Do I hear an "Amen!"?] He is now Bishop James V. Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau (MO) , where apparently one of his early decisions was to have a daily and Sunday TLM started in his cathedral.

  10. benedetta says:

    Henry, your experience is very interesting. Lima beans!

  11. TJerome says:

    What a wonderful Christmas gift to the people of this parish!!

  12. We don’t know what the numbers would have been without the catechesis. But it probably did make the numbers more unanimous, because being taught makes you more teachable. Even for people who understood, it gives you added strength to be reminded of the truth of things. It also showed respect for the people who were uncertain or agin’ it. A lot of people will go from no to yes, if you give them time to reconsider without ever making them dig in their heels in public. Also, sometimes people are just angry at the world in general when they find out they’ve been badly taught by previous priests, and it takes a while to get over that and accept the truth happily.

    A year of learning true teaching about Jesus never hurt anybody. It also made it clear that the priority was Him and worshipping Him, not just some kind of priest ego trip or aesthetical demand.

  13. flyfree432 says:

    You can tell I was tired when I wrote that message to Father Z! I was one of the folks who helped move everything yesterday and it was exhausting. That baldacchino is heavier than it looks. The top slipped at one point and I have the gashes to prove it. :)

    “A year of learning true teaching about Jesus never hurt anybody. It also made it clear that the priority was Him and worshipping Him, not just some kind of priest ego trip or aesthetical demand.”

    This. Our priest was up against strong opposition (from years of bad catechesis) from a minority in the parish, and also wanted to be sensitive to those who built the church and had also never been catechized. There is no reason to needlessly offend someone when you can lead them to the truth without doing so. He did not take the approach that I would have taken, but seeing the effects, I am glad he did what he did. Over the course of teaching, as he helped the parish learn the language of the Church and the importance of architecture to our worship, you could see a real change in the hearts of many people who had previously threatened to leave. There is a lot of work to be done yet, but this is massive. A huge first step. We have had a lot of promises for funds, there is sacred art in our parish you do not see yet, several things from storage for the past 30 years are back out. Yes, it is taking longer than many of us would like, but the permanence of this new enriching environment to celebrate the mysteries that is taking shape is going to change lives and convert souls. Deo Gratias.

  14. priests wife says:

    The closest Roman-rite parish went through similar positive changes- a very modern 70′s church, now it has crucifix and tabernacle front and center with about 4 statues, etc- it is a challenge to ‘fit’ the architecture with more traditional art, but it is possible.

  15. Random Friar says:

    I remember my philistine days, when I did not know good music. But I encountered a rare soul in college, a teacher filled with wonder and a childish enthusiasm about music, who could teach me to see all the hidden beauty and meaning in ways I hadn’t known. I can’t say I’m a true expert, but I’m perhaps down to about 30% philistine, give or take a few points.

    We can debate about the pacing, but good catechesis sometimes requires patience, and I will trust this pastor to know his flock. With patience and charity, truth and beauty will win out in the end. But a dismissive attitude and “pushiness” will drive people away from it. As St. Francis de Sales said, you can “win the argument, lose the soul.” Well done, pastor!

  16. wmeyer says:

    Kudos to the pastor. I am delighted to see this transformation, and thrilled for my friend Adam Janke, the very traditional man who serves St. Mary’s as DRE.

  17. idatom says:

    Hi flyfree432;

    It’s great to see your parish coming back to the fold again. The Church of my youth is under going similar changes, see their web site, http://www.olv.org/ or Google Our Lady of Victory Cincinnati. Their tabernacle was moved from the rear chapel to the alter, a corpus was placed on the original Protestant cross. This will be corrected later. Fr. Reutter also had kneelers installed this year. He to instructed his folks for some time before hand. He is very pro-life in other words very Catholic but he has much resistance from OLV’s liberals. It was difficult for some to kneel after they have been standing since 1978. Among other changes he would like to move the choir to the rear and out of sight. Your pastor could contact Fr. Reutter to compare notes.

    I have photos of OLV but don’t know how to send them to you.

    Tom Lanter

  18. Jayna says:

    Roughly the same thing happened at my former parish. They’re still waiting on the tabernacle, but there is now a life-size crucifix hanging over the altar.

  19. kat says:

    Many prayers are being answered and many graces are being conferred these days. Thanks be to the good God!

  20. flyfree432 says:

    idatom, you can write me at adam4jmj at gmail dot com

  21. jaykay says:

    Beautiful. The wooden baldacchino is a marvelous idea – I’ve never seen one like that before. It’s simple and graceful and “strong”. And a wonderful bit of woodcarving, congratulations to whoever did it. The tabernacle itself is also beautiful. The whole ensemble adds a touch of dignity to a building that probably seemed a bit arid before.

    flyfree432: hope the wounds heal soon and congratulations for your commitment on this wonderful project.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    Henry,

    You said, “However, I always wonder why anyone would think a Catholic parish has to be “catechized” to adore Our Lord in His sanctuary. As though something else might properly be done there.”

    Obviously you haven’t been to some of the parishes I’ve been to. It’s bad out here.

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    Suburbanbanshee,
    You said, “We don’t know what the numbers would have been without the catechesis. But it probably did make the numbers more unanimous, because being taught makes you more teachable. Even for people who understood, it gives you added strength to be reminded of the truth of things. It also showed respect for the people who were uncertain or agin’ it. A lot of people will go from no to yes, if you give them time to reconsider without ever making them dig in their heels in public. Also, sometimes people are just angry at the world in general when they find out they’ve been badly taught by previous priests, and it takes a while to get over that and accept the truth happily.”

    Great wisdom about teaching, yes. Moving definitely forward, but with a watchful eye. If it’s left until it’s absolutely necessary, it will not go so well. The developments in this parish are wonderful! Great job. *THIS* is a great example of brick-by-brick, as Fr. Z likes to call it.

  24. letchitsa1 says:

    What great news about this parish and the changes happening there. The pictures are absolutely beautiful!

  25. joanofarcfan says:

    Hopefully, the next addition will be a nice communion rail.