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Wednesday, June 04, 2003

A real "man bites dog" story.

Progressive Catholics are on the receiving end of a church renovation fight in the Diocese of Arlington. And, wonder of wonders, I feel a twinge of sympathy for them. Usually, the shoe's on the other foot: Traditional Catholics are presented with the fait accompli of a dessicated, antiseptic "worship space" disconnected from the past, where the now-embittered parishoners can gather to try to celebrate themselves.

Fair's fair, and it can't be fun to be the progressives in this case.

But it's just a twinge of sympathy. In this case, nothing is being hauled off to a dumpster, whitewashed over, or tossed into a closet--at least nothing that's the subject of protest. In fact, it sounds magnificent:

Two years ago, Cregan appointed a design committee to explore ways it could be remodeled to conform with new directives from Rome on church architecture. He held meetings with parishioners to discuss changes and got, he says, "loads of input."

In the end, he decided to move the tiny room that houses the tabernacle -- the container that holds the Eucharist wafers -- to a new chapel behind the altar. That chapel will be decorated with carved wood and etched glass depicting biblical scenes. An Italian artisan will carve the tabernacle and apply 24-karat gold leaf to it. The floor around the altar will be paved in 800 square feet of rose marble and topped with a new stone-and-wood altar, pulpit and priest's chair. A new Blessed Mother statue will join the hand-carved Stations of the Cross in the sanctuary.

Cregan says he hopes to impart a sense of holiness to the church.

"When you come into the church, you should feel that you're stepping outside of the world and into a sacred space where you are drawn into a connection with God," Cregan said.

The article is a reasonably fair overview, correctly putting the story in a larger context, and is worth a read.

[Link via Catholic Light]

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