Okay, fellow Catholics: I need to pick your brains. Particularly if you are 20+ and have had the experience of moving to a new parish.
How, exactly, did you get involved in the parish and figure out who people were, what was going on, and where you could contribute?
Well I am impressed that you know the priest. I have been trying out 3 churches in the town I just moved to. One is only for the Extraordinary Form but it is far.The other 2 kinda depress me except for the homilies. One has a table in back welcoming new parishners. But aside from that not much in the way of welcoming.My advice, be patient.
At my last parish I did lots of volunteering and it took years to feel like I was part of the parish.
Try helping out in the kitchen after Mass if they have one. Or the soup kitchen, or one of the ministries that seem boring. Cleaning the church or maybe ask the priest if you can recite the Rosary before Mass and lead it.
It takes time and serving in ways that are not glamerous. Little by little as you get to know people and when they trust you, you can branch out and begin ministries that will fill the gaps that are missing.
Good Luck !
I wish I knew this before it was too late. I am sorry to the people I knowingly withheld my love and affection from. This sinner needs more prayers so i can make up for my mistakes…
St. Michael the Archangel, Ukiyo-e version
can he be any more adorable?
I think he’s one of the greatest pope in the modern times, back to back with pope Benedict XVI! :D
I think so too.I feel blessed to have seen both.
I have a second job interview tomorrow.Please pray I do well.I have decided from now on to pray for the unemplyed.It is not easy.
|—||C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity|
Capernaum, Israel // the place where Jesus did much of His ministry and also where apostle peter lived. This is the ruins of the synagogue after it was destroyed by an earthquake.
Mark 1:21-28 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching - and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (NIV)
Andrea del Sarto, Disputation on the Trinity, 1517, oil on wood, 232 x 193 cm., Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence.
This composition is purely about balance and order. Yet look carefully and the body language of each saint is distinctly individual, as is the color harmonies. Sebastian kneels to the left draped in vivid blue holding an arrow while Mary Magdalene is graceful and serene on the right with a jar of some sort. The saints debate with biblical reference while the trinity is depicted above them. A highly symbolic painting that has heightened realism, Del Sarto challenges our minds as well as our senses.
Sta Teresa y la Visión del Manto y del Collar
One day fifteen years ago, I happened to be channel surfing past the Eternal Word Television Network when I was greeted by a momentary flash of heavenly beauty across the screen. Quickly flipping back, I realized that it was a Mass being celebrated in an unusually majestic church with an extensively gilded and marbled interior.
Having never seen this church before, I distinctly remember asking myself why today’s churches can’t still be built to glorify God the way this beautiful “old” work of art had been. Within minutes, however, I felt as though a joke too good to be true had been played on me—what I was witnessing was in fact the Mass of Consecration for this magnificent and brand new church.
That church is the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, which was commissioned by Mother Angelica and is now a longstanding familiar sight to viewers of EWTN. That day back in 1999 marked a turning point in my understanding of the direction of Catholic sacred architecture in the post-conciliar period.
Up to then, I had been conditioned to believe that such blatantly Catholic forms and furnishings were but a stale hangover from the Church’s distant “triumphalist” past, and that my attraction to them was some sort of perverse personal weakness that indicated an obstinate, unenlightened resistance to “the spirit” unleashed in the 1960s. Yet, as I slowly took in what was there before me on the television screen, at the threshold of the new millennium, I felt an unexpected sense of both joy and vindication. To my young mind at least, it was as though I was witnessing a visual clarion call challenging the prevailing mentality of modernism that had successfully held sway in the Church for some thirty years.
Now, let us fast forward to 2014. Relatively speaking, it is still somewhat of a rarity to see a new ecclesiastical project of such delicate care and quality. However, it is not nearly as rare as it was at the turn of the century, and considering various ongoing deterrents both within and outside of the Church, that alone is significant.
It is true that a certain indiscriminate preference for the contemporary remains firmly ensconced in the average American parish. Yet there has also quietly developed a parallel phenomenon: a deliberate and measured return to tradition, born of a deep desire to reestablish continuity and stability in Catholic life. Given the wide appeal it enjoys among younger priests and committed laity—the Church of tomorrow—I dare say it has gained a life of its own. A brief survey of just some of the many projects from the past several years serves to illustrate this point, and is a feast for the eyes and soul in the process.
In 2003, a small church in Houston, Texas was consecrated for the parish of Our Lady of Walsingham, designed by the very old and established firm of Cram & Ferguson Architects. This unique Marian title, based on the English apparition and pilgrimage site of the same name, is specifically evoked in the building’s neo-Gothic style, which draws heavily on the vernacular architecture found in the village of Walsingham, Norfolk, England. It therefore becomes a strong visual tie to its namesake.
St. Raymond of Peñafort Church, located in Springfield, Virginia, was consecrated in 2006. Designed by Bass Architects, Chartered as the first permanent home for a young parish founded in 1997, its fortress-like Romanesque stone façade and stout brick towers are prominently visible from the bustling Fairfax County Parkway, and therefore seen daily by thousands of passersby. It incorporates intricate stained glass and various antique furnishings.
Another larger project by Cram & Ferguson is St. John Neumann Church in Farragut, Tennessee, consecrated in 2009. Romanesque through and through, its vaulted interior contains large, newly completed apse and dome murals in a naturalistic style. With the parish having outgrown its previous building after just a couple decades, the size and permanence of this new church guarantees that it will adequately serve and inspire for generations to come.
St. Benedict’s Chapel is located in Chesapeake, Virginia, and was consecrated in 2011. Designed by Franck & Lohsen Architects for a parish operated by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), it is possibly the first parish church in the United States built specifically for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, or Traditional Latin Mass, since before Vatican II. The elegant yet humble design clearly presents itself as a Catholic church, while also incorporating elements of the architecture typical to the local region.
Franck & Lohsen also designed the stately St. John the Apostle Church a few hours north in Leesburg, Virginia, which was consecrated in 2012. This old parish had long outgrown its small nineteenth-century wooden church, and needed one large enough to accommodate the continuing population boom in Loudoun County. The new design employs various traditional details, with material choices and other elements reflective of the historic town, as well as reminiscent of the old church. The liturgical and devotional furnishings were rescued from a closed church in New Jersey, at which Venerable Fulton Sheen was the homilist for its consecration in 1929.
One of the newest functioning parish churches in the United States is St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, designed by Duncan G. Stroik Architect, LLC, and consecrated in 2013. The heavy brick exterior, evoking the familiarity of earlier American immigrant churches, makes for a commanding and permanent presence from the outside. Inside, one is uplifted by a nobly simple, bright, and spacious classical serenity. The altar is given special prominence by its location under a colorful baldacchino, or altar canopy.
Also consecrated in 2013 is St. Catherine of Siena Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina, designed by O’Brien & Keane Architecture. This large church is reminiscent of the Romanesque architecture found throughout Tuscany, which St. Catherine herself would certainly have known. A boldly contrasted triforium arcade below the clerestory provides an additional element to draw the eye’s focus to the altar and tabernacle. Numerous shrines with larger-than-life wooden polychrome statues, custom made in Italy, line the side aisles.
Currently under construction is St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, South Carolina, designed by McCrery Architects. The design is predominantly influenced by Renaissance architecture, and consists of a church that sits back from the street, behind an entry courtyard incorporating formal gardens and flanked by twin ancillary buildings with colonnades. This establishes a peaceful transitional zone between the outside world and the Holy of holies, and gives one a sense of being drawn in toward the façade.
Our Lady of Grace Church in Maricopa, Arizona, designed by Liturgical Environs, PC, has begun construction as well. This Gothic style design, which incorporates shallow pointed arches and a hammer beam ceiling, is the focal point in the development of a large parish campus. The church is intentionally designed with future expansion in mind, which will seamlessly allow for it to triple in size as the parish grows.
Various religious orders are experiencing a rise in vocations and are quite young in their overall composition. As a result, the United States has seen several new monasteries planned, begun, or completed in recent years to accommodate the anticipated continued growth. The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, who care for the aforementioned Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament on the grounds of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Alabama, are no exception.
Another notable example is the Monastery at the New Mount Carmel, planned for the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming (producers of Mystic Monk Coffee) and designed by McCrery Architects. This sprawling Gothic Revival complex will include a chapel at its core, hermitages housing up to thirty monks, a refectory, guest and retreat quarters, and other spaces that will enable the monks to live faithfully according to their rule and flourish as a growing and thriving community for generations. The land is situated in a remote and peaceful mountain setting.
Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in 1999 and situated in the Ozarks of Oklahoma, is a similar scenario. Designed by Thomas Gordon Smith Architects, it blends Romanesque and Renaissance elements, and it continues to be built in phases. The overall program is constructed piece by piece according to the highest priority, and the monks have the happy problem of not being able to build fast enough to keep up with their community’s steady growth.
On college campuses, perhaps in the category of “not your average Newman chapel,” the story continues. The Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, designed by Duncan G. Stroik and consecrated in 2009, is the focal point of the quadrangle at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. The design is true to its locale in the mission lands of Southern California, but also clearly tied to a sacred tradition that goes even further back. The result is a stunning edifice that would hold its own alongside the finest European churches.
Also in the Golden State is Our Savior Church and USC Caruso Catholic Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects with Perkowitz + Ruth Architects, and liturgical furnishings by Liturgical Environs. Consecrated in 2012, the project consists of a church and adjacent student center in an Italianate Romanesque style. Some defining features are the rusticated travertine exterior, expansive stained glass windows, and open piazza tying the two buildings together.
The Diocesan See
We are even seeing signs that a rediscovery of tradition has begun to filter up to the highest levels. While new cathedral construction is not nearly as common as the other building types discussed, it is especially significant. As the mother church of the diocese, a cathedral is often seen as prototypical; an indication of the general philosophy a bishop would like to see adopted by the parishes under his auspices.
The Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina has commissioned a new cathedral under the patronage of the Holy Name of Jesus, to replace the current cathedral, which has become inadequate to serve the rapidly growing Catholic population in the region. The design, currently in development by O’Brien & Keane, is of a style similar to that of the aforementioned St. Catherine of Siena in the same diocese, but on a larger and grander scale. Expected to take about two years to complete, renderings show that it will incorporate high vaulted ceilings, arcaded side aisles, and a substantial dome.
Across the globe, the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima in Karaganda, Kazakhstan has arisen from the ashes of the former Soviet Union. Consecrated in 2012, it stands as a brand new witness to the triumph of Christian hope and perseverance over communist oppression. By the use of Gothic Revival, an expression of an earlier style that originated out of a purely Christian religious and social setting—as opposed to something postmodern that would only serve to reinforce the instability and uncertainty introduced by the oppressors—order is restored from chaos, and hope to the future. It is no accident that, in a town that housed concentration camps for people of faith within recent memory, the cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, who implored all of her children to pray daily for the conversion of Russia.
Despite the diversity of hands involved in these works, they are all steeped in timeless Catholic tradition and unmistakably state-of-the-art buildings: a true illustration of a hermeneutic of continuity. And while the focus here has been only on new construction, the increasing prevalence of traditional renovations—or re-renovations, to be more precise—merits its own attention, and will be the subject of a forthcoming essay in Crisis.
Lest delusion set in, the ratio of new traditional churches to posh amphitheater spaces still being built is grossly disproportionate. Nevertheless, after the epic social and liturgical upheavals of the last century, it is a wonder that any sort of traditional resurgence is happening at all, and these projects seem to be only increasing in number and scale with each passing year. Just a decade ago, attempting to write this piece would have proven difficult; twenty years ago, impossible.
This should give cause for optimism to those faithful who yearn for the vitality that flows from firm Catholic identity and its enduring visible expression. After all, as the saying attributed to Chesterton puts it, “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances we know to be desperate.” Such wisdom is surely not lost on the many pastors, parishes, religious communities, architects and others helping to cultivate this budding sacred renaissance in the midst of a disintegrating culture that is too often hostile to faith.
(((One of the churches I go to in mentioned in this article)))
St. Luke Painting the Virgin by Martin de Vos
We continue to share our daily struggle with you, hoping that our cry will reach the world. We are like the blind man of Jericho (Mark 10: 46-52), who had nothing to express himself, but his voice, asking Jesus for mercy. Although some people ignored his voice, others listened, and helped him. We count on people, who will listen!
We entered the third week of displacement. Things are moving very slowly in terms of providing shelter, food, and necessities for the people. There are still people living in the streets. There are still no organized camps outside of schools that are used as refugee centres. An unfinished, three story building has also been used as a refugee centre. For privacy reasons, families have made rooms using UNHCR plastic sheets in these unfinished buildings. These places look like stables. We all wonder, is there any end in sight? We appreciate all efforts that have been made to provide aid to the displaced people. However, please note, that providing food and shelter is not the only essential thing we need. Our case is much bigger. We are speaking about two minorities (Christian and Yezedians), who lost their land, their homes, their belongings, their jobs, their money, some have been separated from their families and loved ones, and all are persecuted because of their religion.
Our church leaders are doing their best to solve the issue. They have been meeting with political leaders, with the President of Iraq and Kurdistan, but initiatives and actions of these political leaders are really slow and modest. Actually, all political meetings have led to nothing. Until now, there has been no decision made about the current situation of the displaced minorities. For this reason, trust in the political leaders has diminished, if it exists, at all. People cannot tolerate it anymore. It is too heavy of a burden. Yesterday, a young man expressed that he would rather die than live, without dignity. People feel that their dignity has been stripped from them. We are being persecuted because of our religion. None of us ever thought we would live in refugee camps because of that.
It is hard to believe that this is happening in the 21st century. We wonder what is exactly happening. Is it another plan or agreement to subdivide Iraq? If this is true, by whom and why? Why are the events of dividing the Middle East, that happened in 1916, being repeated now? At that time it was a political issue and innocent people paid for it. It is apparent that there are sinfully, cunning people dividing Iraq, now. In 1916, we lost seven of our sisters, many Christians died, and more were scattered. Is it just circumstance we face this division again, or is it deliberate?
However, the struggle is not only in the camps, with the displaced people. What has happened in our Christian towns that have been evacuated is even worse. The IS forced out of their homes those who did not leave their towns up to the night of August 6th. Yesterday, seventy-two people were driven out of Karakosh. However, not all of them arrived; those who arrived last night were in miserable condition. They had to cross Al-Khazi river (a tributary to the Great Zab) on foot because the bridge had been destroyed. There are still quite few on the side of the riverbank. We do not know when they will make it to Erbil. It depends on the situation and negotiations between the Peshmerga and the IS. There are some people who went to fetch the elderly and the unable to walk. One of our sisters went to bring her parents, and told her story. Another woman, said that she was separated from her husband and children, and she knows nothing about them; they are probably among the others who are on the other bank, or they might be among the hostages taken by the IS. Also, a tree-year old daughter was taken from her mother’s lap, and she also knows nothing about her. We do not know why the IS are sending people out of Karakosh, but we have been hearing from those who just arrived, that IS are bringing barrels into Karakosh and the contents are unknown.
In addition, we know of four Christian families who are stuck in Sinjar for over three weeks; they are probably running out of food and water. If they do not get help, they will die there. At the present, there is no contact with them, and there is no way to negotiate with the IS.
As for our community, we know that our convent in Tel Kaif is being used as an IS headquarter. Also, we know that they had entered our convent in Karakosh. Those that recently arrived have stated that all the holy pictures, icons, and statutes are being destroyed. Crosses have been taken off the top of churches and they have been replaced with the IS flags. That is not only in Karakosh and Tel Kaif. In Baqofa, one of our sisters heard the situation was calm, so she went back with few people, to get her medicine. She found the convent had been searched; everything was open and strewn across the rooms. The minute they entered the convent, three bombs hit the town. They left immediately.
Apart from what is happening to the Christians, yesterday, Friday the 22nd, a Shiite suicide bomber and gunmen attacked Sunni mosque of Abou Mussab in village under Iraqi government control in Diyala province leaving 68 dead. It is heartbreaking to hear about people get killed while praying. In terms of Media and news release, this massacre overshadowed what is happening to the Christians in Nineveh Plain. We are afraid that our struggle will become only our own affairs, and it will not have impact on the world anymore.
At last, we have to say that people are losing their patience. They miss everything in their hometowns: churches, church bells, streets, and neighborhood. It is heartbreaking for them to hear that their homes have been robbed. Although they love their towns, most people are now thinking of leaving the country so they can live in dignity and have future for their children. It is heard to have hope in Iraq, or to trust the leadership of the country.
Please, keep us in your prayers.Sister Maria Hanna OPDominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena-Iraq
P.S. Please share the letter with other people. Let the world hear the cry of the poor and the innocent.
(24 August 2014)