The older 3 were camping this weekend and did not get home until after Mass in the morning so we all went to Mass at St. Michael's in downtown Rochester this afternoon. May I say this church is absolutely positively take your breath away beautiful? Amazingly beautiful. It reminds me of some of the churches we would see in Europe. The kind of place that is oozing with history and certainly has not be rectivated like so many of our other churches. (I hate when they pull out all the older stuff and make it all modern and sterile looking.) I loved seeing the worn floor boards, the worn patches in the pews where you can just feel generations of people sitting before you. The amazing windows that tell actual stories. The German inscribed on the walls because it was built by a German congregation in the 1800's that I'll admit I read and then had my brain kick in and say hey, that was German. I love the feel of a church that puts you in awe of God's wonders and is so beautiful that even the littlest kids just feel that they are someplace special and are quiet.
It reminded me in some ways of my Grandparents old parish that we would visit when were living with them between moves. Some place I never felt comfortable as a kid because it was so different than what I was used to. I mean, I'd never seen the communion rails actually in use and had no clue what they were for or the concept behind receiving on the tongue at that point in my life so it made me feel so awkward and out of place and uncomfortable. But I look back on the church now and realize how beautiful it was and what a gift it was to see a church that had been left mostly unscathed by the trend to modernize everything.
I completely understand why the military parishes we belonged to for so many years growing up were so plain. The buildings had to be used for multiple services so they had to be rather utilitarian. I'm sure I wasn't the only kid who never knew what the heck the little cup holders built into the backs of the pews were for or who thought the cross/crucifix that turned on it's axis was super cool. And I can remember having to sneak over to the Protestant side of the sacristy to steal back our altar server robes a time or two. That always felt like we were intruding on some place we just didn't belong. The parishes felt like home, especially when they would have coffee calls after Mass every week and CCD right after that. It was just something that gave a steady rhythm to your Sunday. But the buildings themselves never gave me that awe inspiring, this is something holy kind of feeling. So I am thankful for these hidden treasures and for a husband who takes the time to seek them out to share them with our kids. Apparently last time he took the kids to Mass there, they let the middle ones ring the church bells and I've been told they were all pulled right off the ground and were flying in the air. In other words, it was just so cool.