Sunday, August 03, 2014

Three visits to the chapel

 I was feeling so low about work (I may write about that later) that Rocky stopped at the St. Charles Borromeo  chapel in Arlington  so I could pray but  this visit was not in the least bit uplifting. The carpet in the Blessed Sacrament chapel was dirty and smelled moldy. The flowers in front of the Blessed Sacrament were dying and a strong odor of wet decay came from the befouled, slimy water. The chairs could've used freshening up as well. I knelt down in front Our Lord and felt  a wave of sadness at seeing  Him treated so poorly in his own house.  I wasn't expecting much to begin with. St. Charles is one of the ugliest churches in the diocese and I think the architect must have been an A-plus student of the brutalist school,  but ugly style or not there is no excuse for the lack of tenderness and  attention to the chapel.  St. Charles is not a poor parish, far from it but it's not even a matter of finances.

How much would it cost to throw out the dead flowers? Heck, how much time would it have really taken to change the water so the flowers would last longer than a day? Would it be so hard to get the janitor steam clean the carpet?  I got up and listened to the staff laughing in the office and then I went back to the chapel. Rocky came in and we prayed together. A young Filipina lady came knelt down to pray so we felt that it was okay to leave. I thought about that chapel and the prison floor and ceiling scene from The Passion of the Christ all the way home.


A few days later we took a mini break for Rocky's 50th birthday and went to Mass at St. Alphonsus in Baltimore. St. Alphonsus looks like my childhood idea of Heaven. The architecture soars straight up and there are saints or angels everywhere you look. After Mass we went to the Adoration chapel. It was totally different than St. Charles. The flowers were not dead and dying, the stone floor was clean, the pews were hard wood but not so dirty that it felt unnerving to sit there and there was palpable tenderness and love filling the room. Someone did their best to make a resting place for our King. The next day we went to Colonial Beach in Virginia and visited St. Elizabeth of Hungary. It's a darling little church with friendly people. We prayed in the company of four ladies and again, with not a lot of money they made something really beautiful for God.

10 comments:

Wendy in VA said...

Happy belated birthday to Rocky!

Deo volente said...

Saint Alphonsus is one of my favorite Churches as well. Msgr. Bastress must be nearing 86, but he has repaired the roof, the steeple, had the stained-glass windows cleaned and sealed, updated the air-conditioning and heating! All the while, he travels around the state teaching younger priests how to say the TLM (I know several). I think "who is in charge" dictates how Christ is treated in His house of worship. The good Monsignor hears Confessions daily as well: from 11 AM to just before 12:10 PM Mass.

Donna said...

I'm with you about work, and I'm a librarian too. I'm especially troubled right now. I'm so blessed to have great priests right now. A visiting priest reminded us we have the A-Team of priests. It's kind of a peculiar way to describe them, though. They get plenty of push back from those who aren't comfortable the changes they have made.

Dymphna said...

Deo, I had no idea Msgr. was close to 86! He moves a little slower than the last time I saw him last year but he has such a lively spirit I would've taken him for a man ten years younger.

Dymphna said...

Thank you, Wendy!

Dymphna said...

Donna, I'll pray for you and your priests.

Gina Guarnere said...

1) Happy belated to your husband!

2) I'm always so sad when I see things in a state of disrepair. Moreso, though, when I see there is no one there to sit with Christ.

3) I love the changes you've made to the format of your page!

4) Prayers for you and the work issues - whatever they may be.

Dymphna said...

Thanks Gina!

Lola said...

Happy Belated Birthday!


Dymphna, once again you are correct. It's not often about money but care. Do the people care?

newguy40 said...

Well, I am late to comment but here goes anyway.

You are blessed in your spouse. How do I know? Because I am blessed in mine and can recognize the same from your loving descriptions of him.

I think that I've mentioned that most Mass I attend are at a local men's shrine. The shrine is beautiful and well kept. Open sun up to sun down. This is great for me to take advantage of easy access to our Eucharistic Lord. The shrine is literally 100 ft from the Pacific ocean and is near one of the premiere surfing spots in CA. This slice of the beach is a major tourist location too. It is a spot of surpassing beauty. A great great grace of the Lord's creation. So, I usually go over to te Shrine a few days a week at 5PM when the sun is going down. Often there is no one in the Shrine keeping our Lord company. It often seems like He is just waiting for me. Many times I encounter tourists who park in the Shrine parking lot when the public spaces are taken. The tourists are all there taking pictures of the surfers, beach and sunset totally unaware that the Lord of Creation and He who made them and all this beauty is just yards away. I sometimes get the courage to them that the God who made all of that is right here. The tourists look at me like I am crazy. I've never had anyone ask for an explanation or accompany me to the tabernacle. I remarked on this experience to the young Indian missionary priest. He smiled sadly and nodded.

Our Lord knew that he'd be left alone and let helpless in the Eucharist. He knew how much we'd need him and is again so full of love for us that he gives himself to us again with the same humility and sacrifice.