July 31, 2011 10:00am Mass
On an absolutely spectacular summer Sunday full of sunshine, the last day of July, and the 18th Sunday of ordinary time, I visited St. Matthew’s. As I walked up to the doors I saw a plaque that stated the parish was formed in 1899. Wow. That is a lot of history. I walked in and was greeted by a beautiful church.
Traditional setup with the one aisle down the middle of a carpeted floor. But the item that sticks out at me are the stone white walls! So clean looking and “rich”. This is contrasted by the dark wooden ceiling. Traditional confessionals are situated towards the front of the church on both sides.
Stained glass windows dot both sides of the church. Like St. Patrick’s which I had just visited the day before, much of the light from outside is kept out. Also, it is quiet in there. The altar is very sparse, no large central cross. As a matter of fact the table on the altar looks almost cheap from afar. Cheap is a poor choice of words.
A large wall with Jesus on the cross surrounded by saints is the back wall of the altar. Very nice looking but the cross seems to get lost in it. In the middle of the church on both sides are conclaves for the candle for praying for the deceased. Finally, along the back is the bird’s nest – not sure what it is used for.
Today’s reading was the feeding of thousands from a few fish and bread. Father starts off by quoting Albert Schweitzer (Africa). A boy here in the states had read about how Albert was helping the poor in Africa. The boy collected enough money for a bottle of aspirin – saving a penny at a time. The army then got that bottle and the letter that accompanied it and published it.
As a result a lot of people were moved and gave. The army quickly had a plane load of assistance to give to Africa! This is just like today’s gospel – the few loaves and fish. It’s about multiplication. Just like the boy who collected pennies for a bottle of aspirin.
The Eucharistic supper is broken into 4 parts. Breaking of the bread started the last supper which starts the celebration that we do today at the altar. Talk about multiplication!
Please are dying and starving today! This is not a problem with production, it’s a problem of distribution.
Father is young, 30′s and Indian. He speaks very well. Very personable as I saw him talking to parishioners before the mass.
Singer, piano, and organ. Traditional music. Singer had a very nice voice.
The church holds approximately 1000 people. But the church was empty. Maybe 100 people.
97% were 65+. Saw one family.
No one held hands and it was spoken.
Stone engravings, rectangular. Built into the wall. Each contains a simple rendering of the scene. Filling the background are gold tiles.
I can’t help think, let me pull off the roof and put on a glorious roof that lets in the light. This would be a stunning church. In it’s own right, this is a beautiful church.
This is a great community. My best friends live here and their kids love it. It is so culturally diverse and I know there are families here. But this is a church clearly in decline from a membership standpoint. The average age does not bode well. I don’t think people are all on vacation.
Another indicator for me is the church bulletin. Sparse at best which means not too much going on. However there is a feast coming at the end of September. I hope people show up in droves.
It is too bad because the Priest here is a good one. Maybe I am wrong, but I can tell he cares about the Word. His homily was thoughtful and enlightening. I do wish he elaborated on the four parts of the supper since I do not know what he meant.
I hope people come to this church, I don’t know the Catholic make up of the area, but they are missing out on a valued resource. And the thing is, I can feel a positive vibe in the church. What a history! This is a good one, but unfortunately, it may not last past the next 10 years.