Comforting thought

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During our weekend stay in St. Louis we strolled down Lindell Boulevard to the cathedral basilica to see for ourselves what Deacon Frank at St. Paul’s (back home) had so excitedly shared about his visit years ago.

Massive edifice

Regarded as one of the largest mosaic installations in the Western Hemisphere, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is also known for its burial crypts and its outdoor sculpture, The Angel of Harmony, that epitomizes racial accord.  The massive stone-grey edifice, visited by Pope John Paul II in 1999, is topped by a striking green dome that boldly proclaims its undeniable presence in the neighborhood even from afar.

Bigger than life

For me, entering the dimly lit vestibule was like stepping into a medieval masterpiece, only dark and foreboding for lack of white space.  I felt stifled by this looming sense of something bigger than life waiting past the inner doors.

Nothing prepared me for the sensory overload that blinded my third eye, rendering it useless on site (sight) the moment I entered the colossal nave.

My little Coolpix could never do any of this justice! I thought.  I’ll have to rely mostly on Steven’s shots with the big camera.

Comforting thought

I didn’t know what to do.  Steven kept insisting that I “pick a spot.”  But there was so much— too much, really— that, after standing there counting the pews to determine the middle, I chose an outer aisle seat on the left and simply sat.

Immersed in my quiet solitude, I just knew that Sunday morning Mass at St. Mary of Victories would be more in keeping with who and what I am than Saturday evening Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

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Prayers from A year of daily offerings (James Kubicki, SJ; 2016)

Fortify me with the grace of your Holy Spirit and give your peace to my soul that I may be free from all needless anxiety, solicitude, and worry.  Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to you so that your will may be my will (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini).

Loving God, I give myself to you.  Take my day with its sorrows and joys.  Give me what you wish (James Kubicki, SJ; 2016).

November 14, 2016

When does God speak to us?  He speaks at all times, especially in prayer.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  But it is not a monologue.  When we pray, then, we should also listen because a good conversationalist is also a good listener (Fr. Kilian J. Healy in Awakening Your Soul to Presence of God).

March 14, 2017

“Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God’s sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God” (Thomas à Kempis).

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Links of interest…  Cathedral basilica of St. Louis: about / facebook / historyMass / photostours / videowebsite…  Heavenly St. Louis (tours)…  Mother Cabrini’s first miracle…  Prayer: devotions (pdf) / lexionarylitany / novena…  St. Louis, king of Franceabout / admirable kingAug 25 / life (1903 ebook) / patron of barbers & grooms / servant of the poor (more)…  Year of daily offerings (p. 254)…

WP posts…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Noon visit…  Old cathedral…  Sunday morning visit…  Two angels

2 Responses

  1. Yes, sensory overload— on steroids! No surface left unadorned. Stunned by the magnificence, I was also stunned by the thought of how many could have been fed for a lifetime at the cost of that opulence. My camera touched only on what the cathedral basilica is like.

    I was unable to find the exact word to capture my initial impression at the time, but I now apply magisterium to it. Defined as the Church’s divinely appointed authority to teach the truths of religion, in this case the overt effort by the architect demonstrates conclusively the majesty of the Church and our insignificance in comparison.

    After spending quite some time in contemplation over our visit, I realize that the cathedral basilica sends conflicting messages— at least to me.

    First, the cathedral’s immense size reminded me of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. But a large cathedral— unlike an office building, for instance— is mostly air inside. Translate that to a big box full of nothing. The cathedral basilica lacked warmth and did not connect to me in my heart. I can appreciate the effort to create the glory, but it came across as all for show. As a Catholic, I did not experience the presence of God or deepen my intimacy with Him in this place. The cathedral was an empty space on different levels.

    Second, by covering every surface (even the sides and seat back of the archbishop’s see) with art or decorations, as the photos show, the cathedral is visually “noisy.” One cannot concentrate on one element without being distracted by so many others. Was this done for God’s glory or for man’s? We are encouraged to seek God inside ourselves and to find His presence in silence: Isaiah heard God’s voice in the whisper, not the strong wind or earthquake or fire (1 Kings 19:12). The cathedral screamed at me!

    Third, if we humans are so insignificant in comparison to this edifice (as a representation of the Church as a whole), why did God send His Son to save us? To me, this cathedral is a celebration of the Church, not the soul. I accept that I am a mote in comparison to God, yet does His love not yearn for me, as opposed to His longing for brick and mortar? Jesus did not come to save the temples but the faithful. I felt none of that and struggled to connect to the Mass, which was more like a floor show than a liturgy.

    My thoughts aside, don’t miss the opportunity to experience this incredible cathedral. Give yourself time to walk around inside and out. Examine the art and let your senses take it all in. Attend Sunday Mass if you can. Let it touch you deeply.

    Even if you are left with a feeling of superficiality, as we were, what an impressive and memorable contribution to your recognition of man’s enthusiasm to praise God.

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