Anticipation of…

… purgatory?

I am at the Mall of America.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. MargaretC says:

    Looks more like Hell to me…

    Seriously, the two places that are most challenging to my patience and charity are: 1)malls; 2) airports.

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    A la Dante’s Inferno, is that (in the second photo) a forlorn sinner approaching the first ring?

  3. Konichiwa says:

    Sponge Bob awaits the unfortunate in the land of despair. I cannot stand that creature!

  4. Most likely. Though, I hope in Purgatory I do not get lost (like I did during my visit to the Mall of America).

  5. Jack Hughes says:

    Airports I tolerate, malls are just too full of chockablock stuff that I don’t really need.

  6. yatzer says:

    Airports and malls, yup hell and/or purgatory, depending on how big they are and how long one has to spend there.
    But Konichiwa, how can anyone hate Spongebob?

  7. Ellen says:

    Ever since the evil Borders corporation closed our Waldenbooks in the local mall, I’ve been back to the mall once in 5 months. I don’t miss it.

  8. doanli says:

    I love malls! :)

  9. Rob in Maine says:

    Henry Edwards,

    Clearly the soul in the 2nd photo is in the Ninth Circle as the white floor must be ice.

  10. lucy says:

    Malls and airports. Agree. But, what about the DMV ? oy!

  11. Desertfalcon says:

    I agree with Lucy who agrees with Margaret, but as you were already there Father, I hope you at least got one of those giant fresh baked pretzels with the kosher salt sprinkled on it and the honey mustard. I love those things!

  12. I go into any store, other than a grocery store with which I am familiar, and the sensory overload absolutely puts me into “catatonia”…unless this is, in fact, a category in the DSM-whatever, I must plead being a contemplative monastic who is “simple”, “stupid”, and “not accustomed to the world”…I feel like I need a guide dog to get me around some of these places (which I do not frequent unless absolutely necessary, and then with a great repugnance).
    Talk about feeling like an alien.
    Maybe that’s good.
    I don’t know.
    What is becoming of this world???

  13. tcn says:

    Malls are just plain icky. Their entire function is to dead-end employ teenagers and convince you to buy crap from China. I shop locally, on Main Street, at mom and pop stores where they know my name and actually want to help me. I don’t have to worry about the perverts scoping out my kids or keeping my purse in a death-grip, or even where I parked my car in the anonymous parking lots and garages.

    Fr. Z: What would possess you to enter that circle of hell?

  14. Jack Hughes says:


    The section that sends me into catantonia is the magazine asile, row upon row of mags creating nuroses, bad feelings, pushing the prostitution of womens bodies, guilt over parenting techniques and promising ‘magic bullets’ to fix your sex life. Best to avoid it all together in my view. Thank you O Lord for the gift of celibicy.

  15. Charivari Rob says:

    Let’s see, now… Where’s the mall directory? Ah, here it is!

    Hmmm… Okay, here we go… Men’s Clothing.

    Men’s Wearhouse.


    Work’n Gear.

    Big and Tall.

    There’s that customized baseball cap pushcart on level 1. I wonder if they started stocking birettas yet.

    Ahh, there it is – Chausubles’r’Us! Level 2, next to Cinnabon!

  16. Jack: I know, I know…
    These magazines are simply “demonic”…lots of nothing’, in my estimation.
    I usually look for something helpful in the cooking department…always looking for something to cook that won’t kill ya’:<)!
    Otherwise, forgetta about it. Oprah and her ilk can go “do somethin’ or other”…if that is, in fact, what you have to deal with in the UK(probably worse!)…I feel your pain!

  17. The Cobbler says:

    “Best to avoid it all together in my view. Thank you O Lord for the gift of celibicy.”
    Heck, for the gifts of chastity and common sense. Laypeople can avoid the crappy magazines just as easily.

    Me, I find malls mostly like tv, parties, and blasting the stereo: fun for people who sadly can’t seem to relish the gift of a quiet good time. I don’t really begrudge it them, can’t say I care for it personally, and if I have to go there I have this wonderful ability to tune it out that I honed on my annoying little siblings over the years (if you think big families are trouble, you have no idea how good they can be for personal discipline!)…

  18. Jack Hughes says:

    No pain Father, just pity and sympathy for the poor souls who actually read this stuff and fall into soul destroying depression not knowing that Jesus loves them, if only they knew the joy of sacramental marriage I’ve been privaliged to have witnessed in my Sunday Parish, with a parents sacrifical love for their children, two spoues sacrifical love for each other or even the chaste love of the celibate Priest or religious for God, the saints and the laity.

  19. susanna says:

    Just looking at those pictures makes my feet hurt.

  20. The Egyptian says:

    which ring of hell is named IKEA, Wwwaaayyyy too much danish modern. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH

  21. jaykay says:

    Egyptian: I think of it as “Icky-aaaahhh”. Truly, what shall it profit a person if he/she/it (tick appropriate box for orientation of your choice) gain the whole world…. terms and conditions apply. Have a nice day! Why is the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation springing to mind here?

  22. wanda says:

    I hope you left a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way out of there, Father. Ugh, malls, no thanks.

  23. scholastica says:

    Father, I had the exact same thought the first (and only) time I went to the Mall of America! I had been travelling to SD/WY and ended up stuck for 5 hours with my daughters in the airport, so we hopped the train to the mall and I was completely shell-shocked. Certainly it is the perfect purgatory for the overly-materialistic, of course you’d be unable to have any of it. The irony was that I spent the few hours looking for some desparately needed dressy summer sandals to replace the ones I’d been wearing for 8 years. I went in every shoe store and dept. store and couldn’t find anything suitable. Later, my trip took me to Lander, WY (to check out WCC) where I found exactly what I wanted in a small privately owned shoe shop. This is the same dilemma I find when I go to Wal-Mart (which is almost never) looking for a specific item. In the midst of what appears to be everything, they never have the thing I need. A spiritual parallel perhaps?

    Meanwhile, may I take the liberty of sharing what I’m up to?
    I’m at a liturgy as catechesis seminar for our diocese, the motto is that liturgy done well is the best catechesis. I’m sure you would all appreciate this as similar to Father Z’s motto. Unfortunately at Mass, I had to keep from screaming at the poorly done liturgy. Let me count the ways- glass chalices, homemade hosts in crouton shape, in the round altar, female serving the altar robed in white sitting and processing with the priests (was there no seminarian/alcolyte?), tambourines and hip-swinging cantor, raised seating with the altar at the bottom and of course no kneelers. I went into the Blessed Sacrament chapel for a relief and it was scary-I couldn’t even find Jesus! Another purgatory?
    Well, now that I’ve vented I hope I can go back without screaming. The good news is that the main presenter on the revised missal translation is informative and basically in the right direction, also there were two nashville dominicans attending who I lunched with.

    Btw-today is the birthday of Pope John Paul II, may he rest in peace.

  24. YadaYada says:

    Is that a puppet in the top photo?

  25. ndmom says:

    Some 40 million souls visit this place every year.
    I’m sure that for many of them, a trip to this Mall in the dead of winter seems more like heaven than purgatory. Especially when the kids haven’t been able to play outside for months, and Mom has a list of things she needs, and the whole family appreciates spending a day strolling around without heavy winter gear.

  26. torch621 says:

    The only malls I’ve been to are Lynnhaven and Pembroke here in my hometown of VA Beach, and mostly that was just to spend gift money or oogle at the puppies in the pet store.

    About the only thing the malls here are good for.

  27. Bless you, Jack Hughes.
    We’re in this together, all of us, priests, consecrated and laity…we are like the early Christians, we have to take stock in our Faith, support one another, and do spiritual battle together…it’s the only way.

  28. ckdexterhaven says:

    I hope heaven has a Crate and Barrel. I love that place! I love the mall too! (Homer Simpson voice)mmmmm Cinnabon…..aaaaagh

  29. J Kusske says:

    I had a friend in college who referred the the MOA as “Satandale” (on the usual naming pattern for shopping malls in the Twin Cities area: Rosedale, Southdale, Ridgedale, Brookdale). Personally I always thought of it as the Mecca of American consumerism. But it’s at least good for getting a bit of our foreign exchange imbalance back, as I’ve seen both there and abroad. Lots of Japanese jet in specfically to go there for shopping, and now they’re trying to get the Chinese to do the same. If they do, we might be able to get some good Chinese food there soon along with the sushi bars already set up! (Panda Express or LeeAnn Chin are ok, but it’s still fast food…) I’ll also say that the shoe stores there are good for me to find my size 15 shoes, usually. So I don’t think it’s Satan who runs it; but if it’s SpongeBob, I’ll have to give it more thought!

  30. wanda says:

    Jack Hughes, How was that interview, if I may ask? Offered up your intention at morning Mass yesterday as promised!

  31. Jack Hughes says:


    Thankyou very much for your prayrs, I cannot express how much they mean to me ! The Interview went very well, unfortunatly I’ll have to wait until September 2011 to enter the seminary as the application dates for this year have come and gone (my fault as I ran from my vocation for several months). Over the next 4 months I shall be going for days out with various priests of the 3 local deanaries (I live in a city smack on the dividing line between the 3 deanaries serving Bristol)getting to know familarise myself with the more mundane tasks a priest undertakes (admin, health and safety stuff etc)as well as Hospital/Prison chaplincy, sick calls etc, in September I shall (hopefully) be starting the formal application process, exciting times!!

  32. wanda says:

    Jack, I’m so happy to hear your good news! Even though there will be a slight delay, I believe firmly that this is all in God’s plan for you. Fr. Benedict Groeschel has a book titled ‘There are No Accidents.’ This is time that God has carved out for your spiritual growth and purification, I believe.

    Be assured of the prayers of many, especially in this Year for Priests. I’ve been including Seminarians and those discerning a call to the Priesthood. Stay close to our Blessed Mother, Mary.

    Be sure to vizit Fr. Z’s blog often, he is a wealth of knowledge and a good and holy Priest.
    His wdtprs’ers are amazing, as well. God bless you, Jack.

  33. AnAmericanMother says:

    Excellent news Jack. We’ll continue to pray.

  34. Jack, great new, mate!
    Keep on loving Jesus and His Church!
    Our Lady will keep you under her mantle; just don’t get discouraged no matter what happens.
    If you are meant to be a priest, Jesus will make it happen. I am convinced of this.
    Prayers, here.

  35. TNCath says:

    This and nuns in earrings are two signs of the end of the world.

  36. eiggam says:

    The Mall of america is close enough to the airport that I took a bus from the airport to spend time at the Mall. Of course that was in the days before 9/11 when one didn’t have to arrive hours ahead of flight time. I enjoyed exploring the mall. But now I have a job that pays less and am older than the target demographic 20 year olds. How can all these teenagers have wads of money to spend? Or they run up their paren’t credit cards..

    Maybe one should set up the Biretta/Chasuble kiosk in the Mall. An educational opportunity awaits. (Don’t forget the Say the Black Do the Red Coffee Mugs!)

    P.S. Best Wishes for Jack Hughes.

  37. New Sister says:

    Jack Hughes – like Wanda, I, too, offered your intentions at Holy Mass and the Rosary we said afterward. Been wondering how to follow up w/ you – thanks Wanda for asking! All my best!!

  38. Mitchell NY says:

    I was there about 20 years ago and it looks pretty much the same…Was thinking to move once to that state of 10,000 lakes…That was nice, to drive on the highway and see small lakes all around you…Enjoy Father…

  39. greg the beachcomber says:

    Is the aquarium still there? I visited once about a million years ago, and enjoyed my time in the aquarium, both as a respite from what seemed like a bizarre (bazaar?) place, and because I love aquariums. If I’m fortunate enough to make it into Purgatory and there’s an aquarium, that’s where you’ll find me, though I would expect SpongeBob to be stationed there as well, laughing his annoying laugh in everyone’s ear.

  40. Penguins Fan says:

    I wonder if, one day, the Mall of America won’t end up on

    At one time, the biggest mall in America was Randall Park Mall outside of Cleveland. I remember going there as a kid. It was a blast.

    It’s gone now after suffering a long, slow death…and it opened in 1976.

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