Thursday, June 30, 2011

In search of thinner altar bread

One of my projects today was searching the Internet for thinner altar breads.

I am finding that many of the older folks to whom I bring the Eucharist, as well as some at Mass, find it difficult to swallow the hosts we normally use. One solution is to break the host; but I know there are altar breads that are made thinner, and seem to dissolve more quickly.

I found two sites online and sent off email inquiries.

Any suggestions?

Archdiocese's Mass handbook

I have a sample of the booklet the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is printing up to make available to parishes this fall, in anticipation of the improved translation of the Mass prayers which will take effect later this fall.

It is very good.

The booklet is 32 pages, handy size, which will easily fit in pew bookracks.

It begins right away with the Order of Mass, so anyone and everyone can easily follow along from the Sign of the Cross. The prayers are notated for singing in what I believe will be the chant notation that appears in the Missal itself; encouraging priests and the faithful to sing the Mass.

The Kyrie, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei are all provided both in English and in Latin, again, set to a simple chant setting. The Gloria is also set to simple chant setting--as is the Credo! This is the first time I've ever seen a chant for the Creed in English.

All this should serve, let us hope, to clarify that singing the Mass, and using Latin prayers as part of Mass, are not a special agenda of particular priests or music directors, but really are what the Church is calling us to do. When you have a publication of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati taking this approach, I think you can say this is now mainstream.

It's all laid out very well, and there are even notes reminding us to strike our breast at the Confiteor and to bow at the words, "and became man" in the Creed.

Then the second half has four other settings for the Mass. I am not the best one to evaluate these, but they all seem pretty straightforward; one, the Community Mass by Richard Proulx is already familiar; I think it's a pretty good setting. Of course, everyone will have different opinions about such things, but none of these strike me as weird or extravagant settings that distort the prayers.

The book is $1, which is a reasonable price. My music director tells me he has folks ready to donate to cover the cost. I've ordered enough for both parishes plus our chapel. I really hope all the parishes of the archdiocese use them, as they will provide a very good base-line for the common celebration of the sacred liturgy in the Archdiocese.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Missal update

I've been working on identifying and ordering resources for the new translation of the Missal, coming later this year.

A later entry into this is Magnificat, which publishes high quality, monthly prayer books that serve both as a daily missal as well as a source of devotional prayer. Magnificat is going to publish a Missal for the priest to use at the altar, and I've checked it out; it not only looks good, but the smaller, "chapel" edition has the best price.

Too bad for them, the discount is good until the end of October, so I'm not rushing to place my order. The bishops conference has also extended it's "early order" discount until August 31. That suggests they aren't getting as many orders as they supposed? I dunno.

Here's my plan; let me know what you think.

I'm going to order a minimum number of the smaller editions; then wait about a year to order additional, larger ones. The larger ones are better on the altar, because I can see the print better! And they should be a little more durable. The smaller ones are more portable, and they are also nicer for younger servers. In the end, I'll end up with about 9 or 10 missals, which sounds like a lot--except I need at least two for each parish church, one for the chapel, one for the sisters' chapel, one for the Mass kit, one for the office, and a couple for the priests to use at home. It's not good to have the missal go missing at an inopportune time!

So why am I holding off buying the bigger, more expensive ones? Couldn't I save money now?

Yes, maybe. However, I have a suspicion that the first editions of these missals will have to be corrected. The publishers are rushing these to print. Once they get past this November, and most of the missals needed around the country have been printed and shipped, and millions of customers get a good look, we're going to find mistakes. Then they'll fix them. Or else the bishops will get feedback that suggests some substantive revisions are in order, and they'll make that happen.

So I'll hold off and let that shake out.

Meanwhile, I've also ordered some booklets from the Archdiocese, which will have both the texts of the people's responses, as well as music settings we'll be using. They cost $1 apiece, not too bad, and my music director--who was on the committee working on it--says it will be a good resource. However, the early-bird discount expires tomorrow, so I had to act.

Finally, at this point I'm also planning on some pew cards, which actually won't make it to the pews; but will be usable at nursing homes and some other settings. They range in price from 20-70 cents, with some being big print, which may be a good idea. No early-bird discount thus far, so I'm waiting.

Meanwhile, I think I'll hold off on bringing missalettes--er, those booklets for which one company has trademarked that name--back into St. Boniface Parish, to minimize the clutter in the pews. Many would like missalettes; I can go either way; but they are an additional expense.

And I'm thinking about new hymnals, because the existing hymnals are now filled with Mass music that's unusable. St. Boniface hymnals, while still in reasonable shape, have given many years' service. St. Mary's are more recently purchased--we may be able to get "supplements" from the publisher; or else we can just punt again, which is probably what I'll do. I hear rumors of a revision in the lectionary again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What we Catholics believe about 'same-sex marriage'

(I wrote this as a handout for members of my parishes. Please let me know if you think it states Catholic teaching appropriately, is appropriate for all ages, is clear, etc.)

The legislature and governor of New York recently acted together to change the definition of marriage, to apply to people of the same sex.

The Catholic Church opposes this redefinition of marriage. As a result, we’ve been criticized as against “progress” and even called bigots. This is so often cast as a question of “rights,” we may wrestle with this, or else feel awkward defending our position.

Let me briefly explain what the Church teaches and why it is important.

This may surprise you, but our stance isn’t based on religion; marriage existed before anyone wrote the first words of the Bible. Marriage arises from human nature itself. Human beings are designed to come together and make a family. This is part of being human and obviously necessary. Marriage is important to the well being of us all .

Still, many will say, “So what? Why not just change the law to accommodate the wishes of those who don’t fit this mold? What’s the harm in that?”

There are several harms, some immediate, some long-term.

First, this is a power-grab by government. The state is imposing a very fundamental change on the whole of society. To some degree, we all must go along with this. What marriage means for our society is changed by this. And we should all ask, Who gave the government the right to do this? Redefining marriage, redefining family, ultimately means redefining what it means to be human. This is social engineering.

Second, society lives in harmony because of shared values. Some say, “we shouldn’t impose our values.” But we can’t avoid it; this is what law does—it reflects shared values that shape how we all live together. So this represents an imposition of new values—which may, or may not, work out so well. It is already spawning conflict.

Third, this affects everyone. Marriage and family are so fundamental, that when we deconstruct the very meaning of such things, it pulls out the foundation stones of our common society.

Parents understand this. When you try to maintain certain values in your home, what your children experience in the other houses on the street affects you; how can it not?

Finally, this is reckless tampering. In recent years, we appreciate better the importance of treating our natural environment with respect. It is complex system which we don’t fully understand; but we do know that we depend on it in order to flourish.

So, with our natural environment, we’ve been chastened to be more humble—because we realize how not respecting it ultimately threatens our own well being. And yet, politicians are re-engineering marriage and family. As Catholic writer Mark Shea often says, the “what can it hurt?” phase will eventually be followed by, “how were we supposed to know?”

We might ask more broadly: What does our faith say about same-sex attraction?

Why some people—2-5% it seems from most reports—experience this attraction, no can fully explain. For some, it is a phase, for others it’s deep-seated. Coming to grips with this at a young age can be very difficult. Some never share this, others are open about it.

Sadly, teasing, cruelty and rejection take a terrible toll. Some young people go through awful trials, and make rash decisions with life-long or even fatal consequences. A lot of folks have serious soul-searching to do about attitudes and behavior toward gay people.

The truth is, that our family and friends who wrestle with these feelings ask the same questions everyone asks: who am I? Why did God make me? How do I fit in his plan?

The answers—for everyone—are: We are made in God’s image. God made us to know, love and serve him in this life, to be happy with him in the next. We spend our lives discovering our particular vocation, but we are all part of his plan.

Many say, this same-sex attraction comes from God; it’s how God made us.

On the basis of what? Certainly Scripture doesn’t support this. But set aside Scripture; human evolution doesn’t support this either. People will often say things like, God made me this way, in order to affirm their sense of worth, to combat shame originating from others or themselves.

But every human being learns that one way or the other, our human nature is wounded. No one can claim to be a flawless image of God. This is a result of Original Sin.

So, when we say same-sex attraction is “broken,” or disordered, not according to the norm God created, this is what we also say of those who eat too much, who can’t stay faithful in marriage, who are filled with rage, and so forth. We’re all broken.

But: the wounds in our human nature do not define who we are, or our value.

One of the errors of our society is to tell us, “we’re fine the way we are.” But we’re not. Coming to grips with our own brokenness is part of our salvation. Lots of folks face life-long struggles and shame because of their trials or flaws. Christ accepts us where he finds us, but loves us too much to leave us there.

Jesus said, “Take up your cross.” This has always been a hard sell. Why did he say it? Maybe because he knew that there’s no other way to become truly human.

One of the reasons our message is a hard sell is because our culture demeans chastity so completely. As a result, the idea of life-long chastity seems ridiculous. But is it?

This is the same society that exalts over-consumption and gluttony. Maybe it’s our culture, and its values, that are ridiculous?

Let’s remember, that Christ calls everyone to chastity, not just some.

Married people are called to be chaste in their relations with each other and with others. This, along with the dying to self that comes in marriage and family, are costly.

Still others (with heterosexual feelings) find, for other reasons, they can’t make marriage work. They, too, are called to the same chastity, as divorced or single persons. And then Christ specifically called men and women to be chaste for the kingdom of God—which is what brothers, sisters and priests do. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

Instead of accepting our society’s (low) value of chastity, we might pause and contemplate how messed up our culture is about these things.

Our society’s warped values about sexuality have created terrible human suffering which we’ve grown used to. We don’t, however, have to accept it as “normal.”

The call to take up the cross is hard; it’s the hardest thing we ever do. We all take up our cross, only to want to put it down as soon as possible!

Everyone, without exception, must come to Christ and admit he or she is broken in some way. We all need his grace throughout our lives to become fully human. Saying these things to those with same-sex attraction is not “hatred” or bigotry—unless we mistakenly think these things don’t apply equally to ourselves.

In every era since Christ came, some part of his message wasn’t listened to, because it was such a challenge to the culture of its time. If, instead of continuing to confront the culture, we had simply re-tailored the Gospel to be “up to date with the times,” the Gospel would have become empty centuries ago.

Jesus told us plainly: his message wouldn’t always be received. We will be criticized and even hated for speaking Christ’s word. He told us to expect that. His command is not to respond in kind, but to turn the other cheek, and to pray for those who persecute or speak ill of us.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Boldness of the Eucharist (Corpus Christi homily)

When we think about the Eucharist,
there are obviously aspects that make us ponder.
We see this miracle, and we think about how
God’s power is on display.

Through the priest Jesus makes his sacrifice
of Good Friday present on this altar.
As part of that, Jesus turns ordinary bread and wine
into his own Body and Blood--into his true self.

That’s power--and yet, notice God’s vulnerability.

I put God himself on your tongue, or in your hands.
He’s in my power--he’s in your power.
What will we do with Him?

Sometimes he’s taken lightly;
we give him a moment’s thought and move on.
Priests take liberties with the Mass or take it as a routine.

There’s a boldness to the Eucharist.

Jesus puts himself out there, on the line.
He put the Eucharist--the Mass--in the hands of his Church,
counting on us to be faithful to it,
counting on priests not to mess up.

I’d like to suggest that this demands a similar boldness from us.

One form of that boldness is our procession this weekend.
We aren’t just going to keep Jesus in our churches.
We are going out into the streets of Piqua,
carrying the Lord of the Universe to his people.

Some will respond in faith; others with indifference--
and some even with mockery.

Why should that surprise us--or deter us?
They crowned him with thorns--
why should we be surprised if you or I get similar treatment?

Peter and the Apostles rejoiced
when they suffered for the Name of Christ--and so should we!

How can we not be bold for Christ?
If we’re not being bold in sharing our faith, something is wrong.
It’s surely not because there’s nothing to say;
not because there’s no one who needs to hear it.

You might answer, “I don’t know what to say.”
Jesus said don’t worry about it:
the Holy Spirit will give you words.
But he counts on us to be bold. He’s relying on us.

I can’t fail to mention something. I know it’s delicate.
We know what happened in New York on Friday,
when the legislature redefined marriage.
Lots of people are celebrating that;
and the Catholic bishops of New York--and really, all of us--
are being cast as bad guys, enemies of “progress.

We’re being called “bigots.”

Why do we say that marriage is only between a man and a woman? Why do we insist?

My answer may surprise you.
But it’s not--I repeat, not--because of what Scripture says.

It’s because that the reality of what human beings are.
Marriage is a product of human nature itself.

We defend marriage and family with a father and mother
for reasons similar to why we defend the environment
and why we care about animals being wiped out.

Our natural world is complex system--
wrecking our environment is a pretty dangerous thing to do.
So why are we so cavalier about the human environment, the family?

A better question is,
who gave the state of New York
the right to redefine what marriage is?

Can the government do whatever it likes,
as long as it has the votes, and interest groups to please?

When the government redefines what marriage is,
it also redefines what the family is--
and, eventually, what it means to be human.
And when they do that, all of us are affected.
Everyone is affected.

And I bring this up, not only because it’s timely--
and I owe it to you to teach our Faith--
but also because this is an example
of where boldness from us is needed.

We’re standing by while this is happening.
God didn’t send us here to stand by and be silent, but to speak up.

Not with any malice at all. We aren’t “against” anyone.
That is not Christ’s message.

But are for marriage and the family.
And if folks mock us or say bad things about us,
we should not be surprised.
We are Christ’s followers, that’s what he told us would happen.

Christ is bold in the Eucharist. He puts himself out there for us.
He calls us to do the same, right beside him.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Verdi's Requiem

Yesterday afternoon I was with my cousin at the Meyerhoff Auditorium in Baltimore, to hear the Baltimore Symphony present Verdi's Requiem.

Wow, what an awesome experience! I shall never forget it.

You can easily look up the backstory on Verdi's Requiem--he composed it for a fellow composer who died; and although it is based on the texts of the Requiem Mass, it's far from clear this music was ever used for a Mass. Easy to see why: it calls for both an orchestra and a significant chorus.

Nevertheless, it uses the actual texts of the older form of the Mass for the dead. The show-stopper is his "Dies Irae" which is the sequence that came before the Gospel. If you go to Youtube, you can easily find this and hear it for yourself. Now imagine listening to this live. I also imagined it being performed at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, where the dominant mosaic is of our Lord in judgment.

Verdi's work portrays something so important about the spiritual realm and the Mass: that we are always engaged in spiritual combat, for souls, and while the Lord's victory is not in doubt, his victory is a fruit of real combat. The destiny of each soul cannot be taken for granted.

If salvation were so easy as we might suppose, none of our Faith makes any sense. Why should God have become incarnate? Why suffer and die? Why would he have said, so frequently and insistently, that it had to be this way? And then, why the sacraments? Why the Mass? Why any of it, if salvation is easy?

Of course, in one sense, it could be: God could snap his fingers and save everyone. Why doesn't he?

Because salvation is more than fashioning a new creation of automatons. God wishes our cooperation. So much is unknown to us, about the new creation--but what lies ahead must demand quite a lot of us, thus God so patiently--and often inexplicably--seeks both our cooperation, and our efforts to bring more of humanity along.

Verdi's Requiem explored and illustrated the fierce contest over souls. The Dies Irae, in particular, makes clear that God is just and there is such a thing as judgment--experienced as wrath for all that opposes him. That sounds harsh; but things that are ugly and corrupt deserve wrath. Injustice--soul-killing, life-deforming injustice--does not merit wrath?

But that's only part of the story; God's wrath is that which is left when all else God offers has been closed out. Yet it must be part of the story, or else the whole thing, again, makes no sense. Without damnation being possible, there is no drama.

As I sat listening yesterday--mostly with my eyes closed--I thought of how well Verdi illustrated the deeper reality of the Mass: that there is a cosmic drama, into which we are drawn by the Mass. We enter into the Lord's combat for souls. We offer his Body and Blood for the salvation of souls. We plead for mercy with the shed blood of the Lamb.

Again, we could say, "oh but the outcome is certain; we are simply recalling what he already did." Consoling, is it not? Yet are we entitled to suppose this? Christ leads us into combat--what sort of soldiers are we to say, "take it easy folks, our champion is going to win the day no matter what we do"? Do we think the Lord is play-acting and we're supposed to pretend it's all serious? Maybe he really means it?

Everyone sat in rapt silence (well, almost everyone; a handful actually got up and left, which I find amazing. At one point, someone behind me got up, and made a bit of noise; the conductor seemed aware of it, and she gestured as if to say, to the singers, wait...and to the noisemaker, "please stop!") until the final notes died away. For my part, I didn't want to clap, and break the spell; it seemed everyone took a deep breath before putting their hands together. Everyone leapt to his feet and the four soloists and the conductor made three curtain calls. My cousin said he's never seen anything like it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On the road...

I'm on vacation, so maybe I'll post more? Hard to say, internet connections are hard to come by.

Thursday I was at the ordination of our new auxiliary bishop, Joseph Binzer. Congratulations your excellency! It was a beautiful Mass and at the end, Bishop Binzer was escorted (by Archbishops Schnurr and Pilarczyk) through the cathedral giving his blessing to all the people. It took awhile--Bishop Binzer was obviously delighted to enact ritually the kindness he always gives God's people. Then he was brought back to the sanctuary, and invited to say a few words. His words were pure (Bishop) Binzer: "this is the day the Lord has made--let us rejoice and be glad!" But Bishop Binzer uttered them at least an octave higher than his usual pitch--such was his exhilaration. Applause broke out several times--but I don't wish you to think it was an undignified Mass; it was not; nor was anyone goading on those shows of affection.

After that I hit the road, stopping off in St. Clairsville, outside Wheeling. I made it to Arlington, Virginia Friday, where I'm staying with some brother priests. Yesterday I concelebrated Mass at St. Mary Parish in Alexandria; today I had Mass at St. John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia. That was amusing.

I presented myself to the pastor, Father Paul Scalia, outside church--he was vested from the prior Mass--and I asked if I might concelebrate the next Mass. We went to the sacristy, and he said, well, how about just taking the Mass for me? It turns out he was shorthanded, and I was fine with that. I have no homily prepared, however, I told him--so he returned to preach the homily. As I explained to the altar boys at St. Mary's, offering Mass is not a chore. But--while I am honored to preach God's Word, that can be tiring. Plus, Father Scalia's parishioners had everything very well organized; it was a pleasure to offer the Sacrifice there. The army of altar boys around me did a good job of keeping me from wandering off or tripping over anything.

After Mass, I saw Father's sister. While Father and I had not met before, his sister and I knew each other from years back, and it was nice to greet her again. Another friend--who I had not seen in awhile--turned up and we talked. Now I am pausing briefly at Starbucks for some coffee, before I drive up to Baltimore to see my cousin. We're going to visit the restored Basilica in Baltimore, and then take in a concert by the Baltimore Symphony.

Dear parishioners: I am offering Mass for you daily! Thank you for letting me get away for some rest.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

'Jesus never left!' (Ascension Homily)

This feast of the Ascension comes at the tail-end
of the Easter Season, just before Pentecost.
We might wonder how it fits in.

On Easter, Jesus rose from the dead in his human body.
Then for 40 days, he was with his followers again.
we only know a little about what that was like.
We do know he restored the faith of Thomas and Peter.

We know he “opened their eyes”
to the meaning of his death and resurrection.
And he opened their eyes
to the meaning of the Eucharist:
remember how he made known to them
“in the breaking of the Bread”?

Everything is being readied for a new chapter—
the birth of the Church—and the key is the Holy Spirit.

Let me highlight some parallels:

In Genesis, creation begins
with the Spirit hovering over the waters.
Jesus is conceived in the womb of Mary
by the Holy Spirit who “overshadowed” her—
see how the window depicts it?

Notice how the Church will be born:
Jesus ascends to heaven,
and then he sends the Holy Spirit.

Then—and now—the question always is,
“Who is this Jesus?”
In the Gospels, that’s what everybody asks.
They kept scrambling for answers:
“He’s a prophet” “he’s a teacher,”
“he’s the Messiah we’ve hoped for”…

Yes—but more.
People soon got the scary feeling
that there was a lot more going on with Jesus.

When he silenced a storm on the sea,
His disciples were in shock:
“What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

When he “taught with authority”—
that is, with God’s own authority—
the scribes and Pharisees asked,
“who do make yourself out to be?”

The full truth was beyond anyone’s imagining:
It was after the resurrection
that Thomas finally blurted it out:
“My Lord and my God!”

They could see without question he was human, like them;
now, when they saw him return to his throne in heaven,
they also knew what Thomas had said:
“My Lord and my God!”

Yet, does there not seem to be a contradiction?
Jesus goes to heaven, yet he promised,
“I am with you always, until the end of the age”?

Here’s the thing—and this is a challenging idea,
but here it is:
In the Ascension,
it isn’t really Jesus who changes his “location.”
It seems that way, but it’s not.
He really stays right where he’s always been.
He’s the Lord God; he is always at the center of it all.
His throne is wherever he is.
Heaven is wherever he is.
So when he “ascended into heaven,”
it wasn’t that he moved—but we moved.
When Jesus ascended into heaven,
humanity ascended to heaven.
When he returned to his throne,
our humanity went with him.

So Pope Benedict has made the point that Jesus never really “went away”;
the Second Coming isn’t really a “return,”
so much as it is the completion of his coming into the world.
So let’s get this straight:
Jesus never left! Jesus never left!

Saint Athanasius made an excellent point here.

He wrote, “there is no part of the world
that was ever without” the presence of God the Son—
but it was an invisible presence.

“Taking pity on mankind’s weakness…
[the Son] took to himself a body,
no different from our own.”

But not merely to be seen—
above all, he did it to be an offering—
God took a body that could die.

But here’s the thing: if all that—
God-becoming-man, dying on the Cross,
and rising from the dead,
were so important to do at one point in time…

The question remains:
what about all of us who didn’t live back then?
How does God make these things real…to us?

The Mass and the Eucharist!

Again, the key is the Holy Spirit.
Recall the parallels:
The Holy Spirit…at creation;
The Holy Spirit…overshadowing Mary;
The Holy Spirit, descending on Pentecost.
But there’s one more:

Just before the climax of the Mass,
the priest stands at the altar,
and begs the Holy Spirit to come down,
that these gifts of bread and wine
“become for us the Body and Blood
of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Without the Eucharist,
Jesus’ presence in the world—
goes back to being invisible.

In the bulletin, you’ll see that in three weeks,
Our parishes will honor the Eucharist in a special way.
We’ll have a weekend of adoration,
all day and night, at St. Mary.
This will take the place of adoration at St. Clare Chapel.

Then, on Sunday, June 26,
after the Sunday evening, 5 pm Mass,
we’ll have a procession, with the Eucharist,
from St. Mary Church to St. Boniface Church.
We will carry our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist,
on the streets of our city
You and I will proclaim to Piqua:
“Our Lord and our God!”

Let there be no question: Jesus never left!

We don’t need to gaze up into heaven.
The throne of heaven is not up there, far away:
He is here—until the end of the age.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

'New' Saint Boniface

I've made you wait long enough for pictures. A parishioner took these, and kindly shared his disk. The pictures really don't do justice to the project, especially as you cannot see the before and after. But here you are...

This is one of two niches in the back of church; the other is Saint Anthony of Padua. Both these statues were beat up and needed some attention. A volunteer cleaned them and repainted them at no charge. The artist hired to repaint the church added the shadow of the cross on the wall behind this statue--you can see just a bit of it in the background. If you're wondering where the votive lights are, they're in front of St. Anthony; this statue is so large, there's not room in front of it for candles.

Here's a nice view of the back of church, as well as the new wood floor and the new pews (as well as some parishioners after Mass). The whole floor of the nave was replaced; we removed carpeting and put down a new, stiffer sub-floor, and then hand-scraped hickory planks as you see. The floor has a bit of texture, so it's not too slippery; it has a super-hard finish we expect to last for decades before any refinishing; and the acoustics are much improved. The pews are very close to the original--and, yes, they have kneelers.

The balcony that you see is not exposed wood, as it appears. That was the work of the artist, recreating wood. I don't believe the balcony was actually a good quality wood, so stripping it wouldn't have worked.

The statues you can't quite see on the back wall are St. Louis on your left, and the Infant of Praque on the right.

Here's a reasonably good view of part of the ceiling. It was all white, with blue ribs; now it's blue, with gold stars, and the ribs are made to look like finished wood. The whole ceiling is actually metal.

Here's a nice view of the apse ceiling, but you can't really see the detail. This, too, is all tin, and the crosses are pressed into the tin. The ceiling was stripped of all paint, primed, painted a rich blue, and then each of the crosses was painted in gold. You also get a good look at the walls, which were painted to look like sandstone blocks.

Here are three of the six new saints (from left): Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Therese (the Little Flower), and Saint Angelo. I'd like to have someone do closer photographs of each. Any takers?

Here are the other three (from left): Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta; and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Each of these was painted to look like a mosaic, and they do.

Here is a view of the new-old statue of the Blessed Mother. She was in the church until the 70s, then moved out, now returned. (Another image of Mary took her place, and we are going to put it in the school.) You can see our pulpit, which wasn't changed, but we may do something with that down the road. Also, you can just see the bottom of St. Stanislaus Kostka on the wall.

Here is Saint Joseph, again, newly repainted and restored to church. The image that was there for the past 40 years will be put into the school. You can also see the statue of the Risen Lord, which we bring out during Easter. He also got a new suit of clothes for Easter.

The area behind Joseph (and Mary) is not an alcove in the wall--that was painted by the artist. Before, a panel of wood was behind each side altar, but the squared-off style didn't look right with the rest of the church. That is the feet of Saint Theresa of Avila on the wall, right over where the priest sits. I figure, if I ever mess up, she'll rebuke me by falling on my head! Ora pro me, Sancta Teresa!

Here's an image of the crucifix and the reredos. The crucifix itself was taken down, cleaned and refurbished. The panel behind it had been wood, with a criss-cross pattern that many found distracting; so we took down the wood molding that formed the pattern, and the artist painted this mosaic background on canvas. The gold matches well with the saints' portraits and much of the gold throughout the church. You may not be able to tell, but I do have the "Benedictine Arrangement" on the altar: six candles and a crucifix. The altar cloth does have a "pucker" in it; the lady who made it new for Easter is going to fix it for us.

The floor here is ceramic tile, although the tiles look like stone. I pointed out to the servers that, to help them know where to stand, we installed (grout) lines on the floor! This floor will never get burn marks from candles or incense.

Certainly if anyone has close up pictures, let me know and I'll post them.
Parishioners have reacted with great happiness, saying they are "stunned" by the transformation. The Archbishop--who hasn't seen this yet in person--said he heard about it and was happy with what he heard. Many parishioners cried on Easter when they returned to church, and a lot more have strained their necks looking around.

These pictures, while good, don't do the project justice. There are many other details not captured here; so you'll just have to come and see for yourself!