Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy Epiphany! On this feast as we mark the arrival of the three Magi, I would like to extend two offers to the parish. First, I would like to once again express the willingness of the priests and deacons of the parish to visit homes and bless them in this New Year. There is a beautiful tradition of blessing homes this time of year and marking over the front door with chalk: 20 + C + M + B + 20. The numbers signify the year, and the letters joined by crosses have two meanings. They represent the names traditionally given to the Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, and they serve as an abbreviation of the prayer: Christus mansionem benedicat – May Christ bless the home. The blessing serves as a reminder that we are meant to welcome Christ as the Magi did and invite him into our homes, because faith should not stop at the doors of the church but should pervade our lives. And there’s an added bonus: I know for myself, visiting homes is a great way to get to know parishioners beyond the quick handshake on a hectic Sunday morning.
The second offer is an invitation to attend one of this Tuesday’s town hall meetings at either 9AM or 7:30PM. We are looking to move ahead with our plans to do some major capital improvements, and I want to make sure a majority of the parishioners are on board and have a chance to share their input.
The first major point of discussion will be regarding the convent. We are moving ahead in creating plans, and it is helpful to hear from parishioners what they would like to see in the building. We are trying to accommodate the groups that we imagine will be using the meeting spaces, so any thoughts from those groups would help steer our designs.
A second major point, which I believe will raise a great deal more conversation, is the church. As we look into a project in the church, the realization has been – if we are doing some work, we might as well make sure we are taking the entire sanctuary into consideration while we are at it. As many homeowners know, as soon as you start doing some work, you always find one project after another that follow each other like dominos, and it doesn’t make sense to do work that you’ll have to revisit down the road.
We will therefore be discussing the extent of the work that should be done. The initial hope was to eliminate the non-functional elevator box and restore a balanced sanctuary with Mary and Joseph on either side. Upon inspection, some stone work will need to be done where the elevator is, and that leads to a reexamination of the shape of the sanctuary and how to make it balanced. And beyond that, I know many parishioners have expressed reservations about elements of the church in general, such as the arch, and if there is a popular opinion regarding such things, I am happy to look into possibilities.
To be honest, I have gotten a few preliminary opinions from church architects, and they have given me some ideas that I am looking forward to sharing on Tuesday. Hopefully as we reflect on the theology of the sanctuary, and all that we believe about this sacred space, we can come together to ensure that it accurately represents those beliefs. We don’t often realize it, but architecture, art, and all the visible elements of a church powerfully express a theology, and can either help deepen our faith, or can distract us from it.
I am certainly excited by the thought of upgrading and restoring our campus, but I also recognize that I am here to serve the parish, and I have no intention of doing anything that doesn’t reflect the will of those who will still be here long after I’m gone. So I look forward to seeing many of you Tuesday to discuss these exciting possibilities.
Yours in Christ,