"The Devil Went Down to Georgia..."
And I'm back from my vacation in Georgia. Good stuff all around, really. Saw family, relaxed on a beach, read a few books, all the finer things in life, really. One thing that I appreciated was a lot of good conversations and questions that have given me inspiration for future posts.
Another was the opportunity to observe interesting things. Especially as we drove down through the center of Georgia (on a route, for the educated, that took us from Savannah to Columbus to Montgomery) and Alabama. Like the fact that every 200 yards or so, I would see another Baptist church. Or that every 5th one of these Baptist churches advertised themselves as a "Full Gospel Church". As compared to a half-Gospel church, I suppose. Or maybe there's a church out there that really has a thing for the synoptic Gospels. Sorry, John, I guess that whole "Bread of Life" discourse was just too much for that particular group.
What is perhaps my all-time favorite part about it, though, is the small church that I went to, St. Michael's, which I make a point of attending at least once when I'm in the area. Not a big parish by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, I'd be incredibly surprised if the census went above 200. It was not a large building, and might be about the size of the chapels in the massive cathedrals. The thing that I like about it is that despite its miniscule size, you walk into that church and don't mistake it for anything else. It's pretty ironic that I can walk into a church in, oh let's just say San Fransisco, a huge building that absolutely dwarfs St. Michael's, and yet I might not know it is a church right off hand. I might think it is the headquarters of a major corporation. Or, more likely, the headquarters that Superman used in the movies. For all my love of the great churches and cathedrals, I am actually fairly easy to please. It doesn't need to be huge, or have gargoyles (cool as those may be), or enough gold trimmings to put Fort Knox to shame. It just needs to look like a church, to serve as a constant visual reminder that I am in God's house.
For the uncertain, this would entail (at minimum):
- one crucifix, prominently displayed
- stations of the cross
- tabernacle w/ Blessed Sacrament, also prominently displayed
- stained glass, preferably with images related to God
- in addition, pews would be nice. I've read about one church using "mauve stacking chairs". Please avoid that. Kneelers would be needed too, since I'm going to be doing some kneeling during mass.
As you see, my needs are fairly simple.
+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam+
"To speak in general of those who should be admitted, the greater the number of natural and infused gifts someone has from God our Lord which are useful for what the Society aims at in His Divine service, and the more experience the candidate has in the use of these gifts, the more suitable will he be for reception into the Society."
-St. Ignatius de Loyola, Constitutions of the Society of Jesus