When it is time to draw people in, do those in charge show ugly modern churches bereft of statues, windows and obviously Catholic elements? SURE they do!
When it is time to make a movie and portray something about the Catholic Church, do the producers look for contemporary churches that look like municipal airports or theaters. SURE they do!
When it is time to raise money, do the fundraisers publish literature with whitewashed walls, bizarre interiors, and spaces that remind you of a parking ramp? SURE they do!
Nothing says “Catholic” like a beige wall with a clump of weeds in a vase and cliches like PEACE on a rainbow made by 5th graders.
I remember my first visit to the Cathedral in Los Angeles (aka The Rodge Mahal). Ultra-modern, sometimes meeting inexplicably odd. Then, go down stairs into the crypt… all the traditional stuff preserved from the old cathedral. And that’s where they asked people to invest money for a burial place.
Shifting gears a little, probably because I am always harping on going to confession and priests hearing more confessions, I got an email about a GREAT project in the Diocese of San Jose. During Lent the bishop asked all parishes to have confessions on Wednesday evenings through the diocese. “The Light is On for You” they call it. The email pointed out something interesting. Here it is:
Bishop McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose is to be commended for encouraging confession during Lent–every Wednesday evening all the churches in the diocese are supposed to offer evening hours for confession during the “Light is on” campaign. I am all for that but…
There is something ironic about the video of happy and relieved people in a beautiful church exclaiming about how they feel after confession. Seriously, this is wonderful! Look carefully at the church in the background.
The location is not a post Vatican II church-in-the-round construction that speaks to modern man. No, it is Five Wounds Portuguese National Church in San Jose. This is an amazingly beautiful church, built by the hard working Portuguese community 100 years ago. It’s also, as far as I can tell, the only church in the Diocese of San Jose offering a TLM, thanks to the ICKSP which has an oratory there.
Sure, the fact of the sacrament and effects are the most important, but let’s not kid ourselves into think that people want churches to look like churches. And when it comes to selling something that the Church is eager to provide, we don’t go modernist, we go trad.
Might I also suggest that teaching and sermons and worship that are in your face Catholic, with tough, clear, explained teaching is going to have a greater appeal than the uncertain trumpet sounded by lib, all-affirming, timid temporizers?
So, everyone in or near the Diocese of San Jose…
GO TO CONFESSION!