Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘DoR Sacred Heart Cathedral’

Like a Bride Adorned for Her Husband

May 30th, 2016, Promulgated by Bernie

This is a post originally published September 12, 2011. I am re-posting it after attending the rite for the ordination of deacon this past Saturday. I did a post yesterday that was critical of the lack of emphasis on the altar. From where I was sitting –on the right side of the nave about halfway down– I could not see the altar or more than the tops of the heads of the clergy at the altar. Not being able to see much of the liturgy I took to looking around and noticing, once again, some beautiful things, most noticeably the beautiful stained glass windows. They remind me of what I think is a very important concept a Catholic church building should convey.

The photos you see in this post are from the original post. The last one, especially, does not convey the full blue appearance of the windows as I saw them Saturday. The second to last window is a little truer to the effect I noticed.

Click on the Photos to see larger images.

Rev 21 [1] Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. [2] I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.


Rev  21 [11] It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal.


Rev 21 [18] The wall was constructed of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. [19] The foundations of the city wall were decorated with every precious stone; the first course of stones was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,[20]the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh hyacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. [21]The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made from a single pearl; and the street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass.

The church building in the Catholic tradition is more than just a gathering space for an assembly of people. It is a symbol of the New Temple –the people of God- and of the Heavenly Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven” dressed like a bride. The building should predispose us to experience the liturgy as timeless, incorporating in worship both all in heaven and all on earth. It is difficult to see how that experience can happen in a minimalist environment. I’m not going to say impossible, but, for most people, difficult.

Look around carefully and you can find in the Cathedral several suggestions of the heavenly Jerusalem in addition to the windows.


I can say something positive about our Cathedral even after the notorious renovation: the beautiful windows are still there. They form the equivalent of walls of jasper, gold, precious stones, pearls, sapphires and such, mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The bride –the Church—is adorned in beautiful garments as she goes to meet her Lord.

Take heart! Not all is lost.

Bishop Watch – “Transition Imminent”

June 14th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

While we have often been inundated with rumors and whispers regarding the appointment of our next bishop, I thought it prudent to share the following substantiated piece of news. Emails from various diocesan employees use phrases such as “transition imminent” and “coming very quickly.” But, most importantly, the following statement was confirmed through three separate sources:

Rehearsals for the “Installation Mass” are underway at Sacred Heart.

“It Spoke To My Soul…I Don’t Know How”

January 24th, 2013, Promulgated by Gen

As Roman Catholics, a large part of our mission to “spread the Good News” takes the form of liturgical celebration. It could be said that the liturgy of the Church is the vessel of Her teachings; it carries and communicates them with the dual function of forming the intellect and nourishing the soul. And this is not accidental. Indeed, this is why liturgy exists. We don’t devote time and effort in discussing, living, and defending it for our own gratification. Rather, we do so devote ourselves to it because to forsake it is to abandon part of the Christian ethos. Christian worship serves to elevate us (at least, it ought to). It lifts up our voices, our hearts, our souls, and brings them all to a higher plane, to a place where, for an hour on Sunday, Heaven and Earth seem to meet upon our altars.

In discussing liturgy, there is always the risk (or perhaps “certainty”?) of having an errant commenter spreading the Gospel of Misinformation, crying aloud “You worship the rubrics, not God!” Well, naturally, we could say this person is worshipping weak arguments, deifying his lack of critical thought, but that’s beside the point. What is important, though, is that we demonstrate that care for the liturgy is, in fact, care for God. We adorn our altars with fine linens just as we would dress our Lord in choicest fabrics. We sweep our aisles and vestibules just as Mary and Martha doubtless scoured their house before Our Lord visited them. Since we have Christ among us sacramentally, we must take the same care that those who had Him in the flesh took. It is the very least that we can do.

But, building upon this “very least we can do,” we must realize, each of us, that we can do so much more. Put your sentiments into action: join the choir, volunteer to wash altar linens, sign up for the night-watch at perpetual adoration! All of these things, in their own ways, build up the Church. And notice, they each have a liturgical dimension to them. When you join the choir, you actively beautify the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When you wash altar linens, you facilitate the proper treatment of Christ’s Body and Blood. When you kneel in silent prayer at St. John’s or St. Thomas the Apostle into the late hours of the night, you are guarding Our Lord like an ever-vigilant angel.

We must take care to engage in these ministries well and often. For just think what a disservice it would be to encounter lackluster devotion in any of these areas. A first-time adorer comes into the Adoration Chapel and sees you sleeping, just as Our Lord saw His dearest Apostles sleeping in Gethsemane. The altar linens are wrinkled, sullied, and yet still must be used to purify the sacred vessels. You join the choir, and prefer to sing music to your liking, not the repertoire given us by the Church. Just because we say we are offering our time and talent as a sacrifice, it does not mean that it necessarily is a sacrifice. Would one really feel like his soul is being linked to the Holy Mass when singing in the choir is more like a social-hour or Bible Camp sing-along? No, there is no sense of sacrifice there, and sacrifice is what makes our liturgies holy. The Mass is called the “Holy Sacrifice” because Christ poured out His Blood for us; He did not take the easy way out, so to speak. He gave wholly of himself, in absolute humility.

And it is this humility that must be reflected in our interaction with the sacred, especially through the Church’s liturgies. Recently, I encountered a gentleman who was comparing two Christmastime liturgical functions. They were both “Lessons and Carols,” one offered at Sacred Heart Cathedral, and the other at St. Thomas the Apostle. Naturally, these are not on the same level of solemnity as a Mass, as reciting the Divine Office, etc. However, they both should serve, as we first said, as vessels which convey the Truth of our Faith. The man said to me:

“The one at Sacred Heart was not…holy. It was fun, yeah…but it wasn’t in keeping with the setting. You’re in the cathedral, but you don’t act like it. That’s a shame. The music seemed to reflect the tastes of the people in charge, and didn’t really make me feel ‘Christmasy.’ Okay, we’re talking about Creation and Baby Jesus, and Mary. Great. But then what? I’m sorry, but there was no sense of dignity at all. But the St. Thomas one…it was subdued, but so much more joyful! It conveyed a sense of the mystery of Christmas. ‘Why did He choose this?’ I may not have known what the Latin chant meant, but I didn’t need to know the exact words. It spoke to my soul…I don’t know how. But it did.”

This man is about as “non-partisan” as one can be. He is unbiased in every sense, and is a good Catholic. Not knowing anything about the “Liturgy Wars” that rage about us, in our sanctuaries and in our comment boxes, he summarized the difference between Progressive and Traditional liturgy. The former talks down to you, presuming you can’t understanding the deep Truths of our Faith. It spoon-feeds you mashed-up doctrine, making airplane noises so as to get you to open your mouth, er, “hanger.” Traditional liturgy treats you as an adult, as someone capable of thought. It brings you to a place that stands outside of time. Try snapping your fingers to a piece of chant – it won’t work. That’s because it’s not supposed to. Songs like “Gather Us In” are fun, sure, and appeal to people of all ages. That’s because they’re fun…not because they’re sacred. They blur the lines between what is sacred and profane, and lead people to think that because something is fun, because something feels good, makes us happy, it must, then, be okay for church use.

Traditional liturgy hinged on humility, on realizing the sacred. There is nothing humble about what we see at most Masses. Through the demeanor of those in the sanctuary, the tone of the music, the sentiments of the congregation, it’s as if the Mass becomes solely about us. It is not. It is about Him, and His sacrifice for us. But this isn’t the fault of any of those people. Liturgy has been watered-down for two or three generations, and these are the fruits. We are brought to church, to Calvary, by the joy and liberation of the empty tomb. But this does not mitigate the solemnity which must be observed when we remember Christ’s unbloody immolation. If we simply do what the Church asks of us, and leave our personal tastes out of it, a pure offering will be made, one not stained by partisan bickering, by personality, by ability or lack thereof. The rubrics are there, not to be worshipped, but to be followed for the edification of the faithful. If you are a priest, the words given to you by the Church in the Roman Missal are not there because it made someone happy to translate “pro multis” as “for many.” Happiness has nothing to do with what is right. (St. Thomas More can doubtless explain that better than I.) Things come to us, not as the work of self-motivated individuals, but rather, as the cultural and religious condensation of centuries of prayer, of refinement, of a striving towards perfection.

Personal opinions undoubtedly exist. We all have doubts, problems, pet-peeves. But the Mass, the liturgical life of the Church, is not the venue to share them with others, to inflict and enforce them on the body of Christ’s believers. I personally enjoy many things that have no place at Mass. They are not sacred, and doing, hearing them at Mass does not make them so. Rather, that would diminish the sacredness of the celebration for those who do not share my individual tastes. The fact that I do enjoy traditional worship is just as irrelevant and ancillary to the nature of sacrifice as is one’s enjoyment of bongo drums and electric guitars. One’s tastes are for oneself. The Mass is for all. Therefore, to let it be tainted by this cult of individuality is to reduce by a great degree the sacred nature of the universal Sacrifice. Let the authentic nature of Roman liturgy speak to your soul. Listen. Breathe it in. Let it wash over you, and transport you from this transient world into an eternal one.

Bishop Cunningham: No Jazz at Sacred Heart

December 4th, 2012, Promulgated by Gen

On December 1st, there was a “Candlelight Lessons and Carols” service at Sacred Heart Cathedral. From what we have been told, there was, in addition to the Cathedral’s choir, a Gospel choir, and “people doing strange things in the sanctuary.” (After some discussion, it was agreed upon that this referred not to any of the clerics, but rather, the dancers.) Rather than a traditional service of Lessons and Carols, the Cathedral offered a show of distractions, hardly in keeping with the solemnity of the Advent Season. Don’t get me wrong – miming the story of Creation can be great fun…just don’t do it in the sanctuary of our Cathedral, if you please.

That all being said, the organizers of this event had requested the presence of a jazz ensemble, presumably because the first thing one thinks of at Christmastime is free-form jazz. However, Bishop Cunningham, our Apostolic Administrator, informed the same organizers that such a display would be inappropriate for a sacred space. One can get away with only so much waving the “ecumenism flag,” and evidently jazz groups in church is a step too far in that direction.

And so, for the first time in three decades, a bishop has declared music at the Cathedral to be truly and accurately profane. 

On another note, stay tuned for an announcement Thursday regarding a much more noble, beautiful, and dignified Ceremony of Lessons and Carols to be held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church. 

Interesting Exhibit at Sacred Heart Cathedral

July 13th, 2012, Promulgated by Gen

If you have the time and ability to stop by the Cathedral any time soon, please do so! There is a very interesting exhibit chronicling the tenure of Bishop Clark, with some exceptional highlights, including:

  • a “bishop’s yarmulke” with the Red Wings’ logo on it (Catholics call it a “zucchetto“)
  • a photograph from Bishop Clark’s first Mass . . . which was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. He’s wearing one of these.
  • a copy of his letter “Fire in the Thornbush,” along with a letter of protest
  • some charming family photos
  • a charming photo next to a smiling Bishop Hubbard
  • a photo of a young seminarian Mr. Clark, smiling pleasantly, wearing a spiffy cassock
I couldn’t help but notice the extreme irony in one of the photos. It was taken after his first Mass (presumably), with him in a beautiful traditional “fiddleback” Roman-style chasuble, standing on the steps of a high altar with his entire family. Standing next to the handsome young priest is a young, pretty nun in full habit. The altar, as far as one can tell, is adorned beautifully with candles, relics, flowers, etc. Looking at this, one is baffled as to how this zealous priest turned into a champion of heterodoxy, chasing away countless numbers of faithful, and endangering the spiritual well-being of myriads of Catholics. Above this scene, on the walls of the sanctuary, are painted the following words:
“O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus.”
Translated, it means, “O, all you who come this way, look and see if there is any pain like unto mine.”
Pray for the Bishop. Pray for Rochester. Pray for the next Bishop.

Abusive Language in the Confessional

November 1st, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

This morning, I was speaking with a woman after Mass, and the topics of ad orientem liturgy and tabernacle placement came up. The woman and I agreed that the main reasons for vehement hatred of ad orientem liturgy (and, implicitly, tabernacle placement) stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of what they main and represent. This is something we have already discussed and will doubtless discuss again. What stuck with me from this conversation, though, was the following story:

“I really like all the Latin music, but I need to hear a strong cantor. I used to be able to go St. Anne, but what good is beautiful music when you’ve got an ugly Mass? So I figured that I should just listen to that kind of music on my own, because no parish around me does it. But then someone suggested I go to the cathedral. I didn’t think it could be as bad as people had said, but when I got there I was so upset by what I saw. Forget Mass and music even. I walk in, and there’s no truly visible tabernacle. Sure, you can see it if you’re sitting in the right spot, and it really is a nice little adoration chapel, but for crying out loud, our churches used to be adoration chapels! We didn’t need to dethrone Jesus to make a point that ought not even be made – if people just embraced the real Vatican II, we wouldn’t have all this pent-up anger and aggression.

“So picture me, standing there almost in tears. I realized, though, that there was a priest hearing confession there. So I decided to go in and unburden myself, and hopefully receive some comfort, calming, and healing. I entered the room, knelt down, and started listing my sortfallings. When I got to my anger about what I saw just outside, the priest started yelling at me, saying ‘You people don’t know anything. We did this for you. How dare you criticize things you don’t understand or try to talk about things you don’t know about?’ I broke down in tears, and he didn’t do anything. I don’t even remember if he gave me absolution or not. All I knew is that I felt spiritually abused. I can’t ever go back there, not that I’d even want to  do that anyways.

This is an outrage, having priests using the confessional, not as the place where Christ’s comfort and forgiveness are brought to us, but as some sort of political soapbox. Since when is it alright to bully the faithful in and through the sacraments of the Church? I remember when I was young, and I was told that I should confess that I had a problem with change. I had to be maybe 8, and I didn’t know why I was being told to confess this by the sister teaching us, but I assumed she saw something deeper in me than I did. And so I went to confession and said, “Bless me father, for I have sinned. It comes down to my having a hard time with seeing change in the Church.” This priest, who was certainly not flying the banner of orthodoxy, was quiet for a moment, then simply said, “What?” We went on to discuss how things like this in themselves aren’t sins, but that the anger, aggression, and tempers they can produce may lead to sin. Of course, I didn’t know anything about Church politics at that age, but looking back I can see that the nun who taught me was concerned that I went to a parish that was abiding by the actual, not imagined, Spirit of Vatican II. The priest and I didn’t get into politics, naturally, but I am certain the present-day me would tend not to agree with this fellow on much. What is important, though, is that he used the confessional as it ought to be used. It was a place of reflection, forgiveness, and understanding, not admonishment for holy zeal or a torrent of anger for exhibiting orthodox tendencies.

I ask for your prayers for this woman, that she remain firm in faith despite the childish actions of some of our diocesan clergy. (Please note, the priest in question is not currently stationed at the Cathedral.)

I Was Working in the Lab Late One Night . . .

October 27th, 2011, Promulgated by Gen

It seems sometimes that our only consolation is that “at least it’s not happening at Mass.” This is particularly true for an upcoming . . . concert . . . at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Let me preface everything I am about to say by expressing my respect and admiration of the capability of the musicians at Sacred Heart Cathedral. They are all quite gifted musicians whose goal is, ultimately, the glory of God. Of course, we could get into the whole mandolins-at-Mass-isn’t-giving-glory-to-God-debate, but that’s not what this post is about.

What this post is about, however, is this concert I mentioned. The cathedral will be host to the United States premier of Rachel Laurin’s Symphony No. 2, which in itself is pretty innocuous. Churches host concerts all the time, and so long as there’s nothing profane and the Blessed Sacrament is appropriately reposed elsewhere, they can prove to be quite beneficial for the community.

The premier of this symphony, though, is not the only aspect of this event. The concert is being held on Sunday, October 30th, the day before Halloween. So, naturally, the logical thing to do is post fliers around the Diocese advertising this concert as a great opportunity to show up at the Cathedral in costume. (I guess Sr. MaryAnn Binsack’s weekly “Casper” costume doesn’t sate the palate of these philistines.)

The Symphony contains themes from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” a great work, to be sure. I am certain that Ms. Laurin’s work reflects the darkness of Poe’s writing, and I am in no way criticizing her music, the performance of it, or the quality of the performers. What I am criticizing, though, is the classless idea to dress up in (secular) costumes for a (secular) concert in a church, i.e. a sacred space. This extra little twist to an otherwise acceptable event is just like the Passion Mime, which crosses the line between what is in good taste and what is in bad taste. Concerts = wonderful. Costume parties in cathedral = not so wonderful.

Isn’t that a confusing equation? No, you say? Well, it must be confusing, seeing as how the people in charge of the music/social functions at Sacred Heart don’t seem to grasp this concept. The church is a place where people gather, ideally, to pray. Of course, well-built churches have good acoustics, and so concerts may serve to build up the reputation and financial stability of a church. Churches are not built to be used as settings for masquerade parties. They aren’t built to be suitable for good music. They aren’t even built to facilitate community interaction. They are built in order to gather the people of God together, not to talk, not to play dress-up, not to have pizza parties, but to worship.

But, of course, we can’t blame people if this concept, too, is confusing. When our churches look like social halls, and when the Mass turns into some sort of group self-help session with refreshments, how can we expect the people in charge to foster an environment of dignity and respect for the Blessed Sacrament?

So, while at the same time, there will be a Missa Cantata St. Stanislaus, you’re more inclined to see this at Sacred Heart:

Reordering Things (a little) At Sacred Heart

August 13th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

With a proposed ciborium

 (Click on pictures for larger images)

Presently, without a ciborium

Good Liturgical Art in Our Cathedral

June 15th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

Related here , here , here , and here

At our own Sacred Heart Cathedral there is an example of good liturgical art -art that is appropriate for use in the liturgy. Liturgical art is art that is used in the celebration of Mass and the other sacraments. For this post, it refers to images that are displayed in the main body of the church, the nave, transepts, and chancel.

In the west wall of the nave of Sacred Heart Cathedral, in a shrine niche, is an original wood carving of Saint John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (England) and the patron saint of our diocese. A sculpture of St. Joseph, in the same material and style, is in a similar niche on the opposite side of the nave. My observations in this post are of the Fisher work.

Why do I consider this to be good sacred art –liturgical art, as distinct from devotional (or merely religious) art?

I have eight reasons:

1.  It is unambiguously orthodox. Nothing leads me to question its doctrinal or iconic truth. The attributes of this saint are accurately depicted according to tradition: a feather pen, book, stole, alb, and pectoral cross. Most importantly, there is no special attention drawn to the sculpture by the inclusion of strange or unusual objects, clothing or poses.1 The artist, here, has deliberately suppressed or controlled his personal interpretation in favor of an interpretation consistent with tradition.

2.  It is an image that falls into the category of subjects that may be used in a liturgical setting; it is an image of a canonized saint.1

3.  The image is natural but not overly realistic. It is not grossly distorted through abstraction. The head and hands seem to be slightly exaggerated in size in comparison to the rest of the (slim) body, which suggests intellectual and spiritual discipline over carnal and sensual desires.

4.  The work represents the saint in a transfigured or glorified state. The saint appears in possession of eternal truth and in full union with God; existing in a beatified state of being, free of corruption both physically and morally.

a) Frontality – the artist poses the figure standing straight and facing forward.2

b) Symmetry –the head, shoulders and hips are level; the figure communicates a feeling of being at rest and in a state of eternal balance as opposed to a feeling of a person who is in a mere passing moment in time.3

c) The eyes are cast down suggesting an undisturbed concentration; a confident knowing or enlightenment; mentally composed and free of uncertainty or anxiety

d) The compactness of the pose stresses verticality and an otherworldly existence.

e) Although not part of the sculpture itself, the decoration of the back wall of the niche in which the statue is displayed suggests a heavenly environment through the use of pattern and regal colors, gold and red. We might envision a small heavenly throne room.

6. The work is noble.  It is an original work of art (not massed produced), and the material is quality wood that has been skillfully carved.4

7. The image does not invite or demand an emotional ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ response in the viewer as it is meant to make present the actual saint who participates in the liturgy as much as the person sitting next to us. We should not distract each other while praying together in the Mass by dressing outlandishly or behaving in such a way as to attract attention. That goes for the saint, as well.

8. Finally, the image is not looking at us as if to engage our personal attention. That would be appropriate in a devotional piece but not in a liturgical one.

This image of St. John Fisher in Sacred Heart Cathedral is an example of good liturgical art.



1 Other approved liturgical subjects include the Persons of the Trinity, scenes from the Old and New Testaments, angels, plant/garden imagery, abstract patterns, and dogmatic images.

2 The opposite of frontality is a figure in contrapposto: head, shoulders and hips twist and face in opposite directions from each other with the weight of the body seemingly carried on only one leg/foot. Rather than appearing at rest, such a pose creates rhythmic visual movement through the figure.

3 The opposite of symmetrical balance is asymmetrical balance which is achieved intuitively and informally rather than mechanically or formally.

4 Noble beauty is a concept mandated by the Second Vatican Council: “Ordinaries, by the encouragement and favor they show to art which is truly sacred, should strive after noble beauty rather than mere sumptuous display …” ( Sacrosanctum Concilium, 124) My emphasis.

AQ/Naz Mass

September 29th, 2010, Promulgated by Ink

Mass today was… interesting, to say the least.  I think I need to be cleansed… heheh, guess I write for the right site then, hmm? =P

This post sums up what Mass was like… very, very well, in fact.  I’ll go through some of it and add my comments in purple.

After my homeroom finally discovered where we were supposed to sit, I started to look around. I glanced at a group of girls wearing sleeveless (but high-collared), short, sparkly peach dresses, and i got a sinking feeling that they would dance. And dance they did. During the opening hymn, the girls (and one boy who was wearing a blue t-shirt and black pants) they couldn’t even make him match the girls! started slowly walking through the isle of Nazareth students, their arms in front of them as if they were zombies. once they reached the front, they stood in a formation and moved oddly in something I would not consider a dance in any context. While they moved, a teacher, presumably the Nazareth music teacher, was standing at a microphone, rocking back and forth and bouncing up and down with a guitar, singing. It was acoustic–were it electric, I just might have walked out right then and there. There was also a teacher (whom I’d heard was a Spanish teacher) on drums. The entire thing looked terribly un-Catholic, and I found myself rather glad that the mass was in the gym – I didn’t want to have bad associations of the Auditorium and I would never wish that on a church. It was like Port-A-Sacred-Heart-Cathedral.

That’s just part of it.  This whole so-called “Mass” was enough for me to end up in tears shortly afterward.  I can call the experience nothing short of outright traumatizing.

Also, a note on the bishop’s homily on angels (which was really about how we should be like angels to others–not really about angels at all but about the community present): it felt weak and nonmotivational, and to be honest… after Fr. Bonsignore’s homily on angels at High Mass on Sunday, I don’t think anyone can top it.

Let Your Light Shine

September 13th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

We will be offering a more thorough critique of this video in coming days. Until such time as we have the mental fortitude to complete these posts, all I can say is this:

The 2010 CMA video must have been copyrighted in 1972, because that’s certainly the mentality it reflects. Girls bopping about with ponytails and albs, without any regard for the sanctity of the Mass, an over-exaggerated use of minorities to convey “diversity”, that hideous Mary statue that makes the Blessed Virgin look like a teenage schoolgirl who got into some trouble . . . I’m not surprised that this is what the Diocese has to offer us to “inspire” us to share our funds.

I encourage you to give this video a thumbs-down on YouTube. There may be a partial indulgence for doing that.

Constructive ideas (literally)

August 1st, 2010, Promulgated by Ink

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it in passing, but I’m going to go to school to be an architect.  And I’d like to build churches.  Granted, I will not make my living building churches, but I can consider them fun mind-projects, right?  Today, we went to Mass at Sacred Heart.  I confess I spent the homily redesigning it.  These are my ideas (none to scale):

Note how the main entrance is at the back of the church, and the altar is at the front.  Side tabernacles have altars there too–I just didn’t partition the image space well.  The ambo is on the Gospel side of the church.  Also, above the narthex is the choir loft.  Oh, and I can’t forget how those are pews and not individual seats.

With this setup, their fabulous new organ can allow its sound to wash over everyone instead of drowning out their voices, which is what it does at the front of the church.  If the sound starts up high and drifts downward, it’s easier for people to hear themselves sing and not feel intimidated by the awesome sound of the organ.  The organist can also put as much feeling into playing as s/he pleases and not be distracting to the congregation.

Now… that baptismal font.

The suggested baptismal font has the immersion font flush with the ground so it may be covered.  The water level in the upper font may be lowered so all that is seen is the upper font.  It would also be located very much in the back of the church–behind where a procession would enter.

Also, Sacred Heart has some phenomenal stained-glass windows.  But the warm browns and beiges of the current setup aren’t really doing anything to emphasize their intricate beauty.  Instead, they are detracting and making the church feel more like it’s trying to be the inside of someone’s house.  My suggestions:

Computers aren’t so good with metallic colours… those would be metallic golds and silvers to accent the beautiful reds and blues of the windows, with a very light cream to make the space seem more open and light.  White would also be used for the same purpose, but it tends to be too stark.  Nonetheless, the dark colours of the rafters would be replaced with lighter base colours and lots of metallic detail to emphasize the beauty of the church and the sacredness of the space.