This morning started off in bedlam. My youngest has been out of school since last Wednesday due to a very nasty virus. He still has not regained his stamina, so he was whining about having to go to school today. My middle child awakened with a migraine. She was afraid of going to school – afraid the headache would get worse. I felt like a criminal for making them both go to school. Sometimes, we must step out into the big scary world despite our fears, but it ain’t easy!!
At about five minutes until 9 a.m., I was sitting at my desk working when I heard the church bells summoning. Even though I didn’t really feel in the right frame of mind to go to mass, I went. Now I truly know what Jesus meant when He said, “My peace I give to you – not as the world gives, but as I give to you.” Listening to God’s Word and receiving Holy Communion were like soothing salve on an open wound. After mass was over, the parishioners left, and the lights in the church were dimmed. I sat there in the wonderful stillness just taking it all in. I was completely at peace. At the time of the Offertory, I laid all of my worries at the foot of Jesus’ cross. He had taken them from me, and now I felt calm and free.
As I sat there in our beautiful, old church, I looked at the large angel statues, and wondered how many real angels were present in this sanctuary, praising God at that very moment. I knew that I was not alone. I saw the captivating flicker of the red pillar candles and was mesmerized by their soft glow. I recalled a question that one of my students once asked me: “Why should we build beautiful churches with gold and fancy stained glass? Shouldn’t that money have gone to help the poor?”
Surely, we must strike a balance. Absolutely, Catholics should give to the poor and serve the needy – shelter the homeless, etc. These are the Corporal Works of Mercy the Church teaches. As I sat there in church this morning, however, I fully understood the need to build beautiful churches. Certainly, this glorifies God, BUT, beautiful churches minister to the hearts, minds and souls of those who step inside of them. Truly, when one enters one of those old, gorgeous churches, the mind and heart is immediately lifted to God. You can literally feel His presence within the place – along with the company of angels. One cannot help but feel humbled and reverent within such a place.
I’m so glad that I got my miserable self to church this morning. Jesus gave me Himself there, and filled me with peace. Now I feel as though I can handle anything! Thanks be to God!