Monday, November 30, 2020


 Sometimes, liturgical/church art is placed in a manner that it can be seen but not touched. For devotional purposes, touching relics and art has always been a Catholic tradition as well as kissing it in the non-COVID age. 

When we restored the interior of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta in 1996, I was tempted to remove the life-size crucifix hanging on the congregation side of the church. You might as, though, “but Father, why in the name of God and all that is holy would you remove that crucifix?” Why? You ask? Because Vatican II taught (not) that you should not have a multiplicity of symbols in church buildings as it weakens the symbol. Just think of why all the “signs” of the Cross were eliminated in the Ordinary Form’s Roman Canon rubrics. Only one is needed and that makes it more powerful (not). 

So you see in the second photo below, that there is a crucifixion scene above the altar (painting original to the 1863 church, side panels added in the 1996 restoration). And there is a crucifix in the cupola of the altar. 

But then I thought to myself, self, I said, a lot of my parishioners go up to this life size crucifix, touch and kiss the foot of Jesus and embrace his legs. Accessibility is important to our devotional life. So it stayed.

By the way, we used this crucifix to veil for Passiontide and unveil and venerate on Good Friday. 


Anonymous said...

Dear Father McDonald,

Thank you for posting your experiences, and also your reflections upon them. I think you made a wise decision regarding that "people's crucifix".

It seems the GIRM interprets SC on this point to mean, "there should usually be only one image of any given saint". But neither document specifically restricts the number of images of Our Lord.

Have a hopeful Advent!

In Christ,

Anonymous said...

The multiple symbols thing never made sense to me. It's like saying having more than one picture of your child or grandma around the house dilutes the meaning of it somehow. I could understand if the church had numerous completely identical images, but who's ever seen that?

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

There is a statue of St. Peter seated on a "throne" in the vestibule of St. John Cantius Church here in Chicago. The patina is a very dark color, in fact, it looks black, except for the right forefoot and toes which are a bright brass color from having been touched in reverence and prayer by thousands of hands...

And the feet of the large crucifixes both in the church and the one in the vestibule also show significant wear to the finish on the feet.

God bless.

Sophia said...

Sophia here: Oh my goodness, how it makes my heart sing to see that name: Bee! As recently as after Thanksgiving Day Mass, I told a fellow Parishioner who also writes comments on this blog how much I missed you and that I hoped you were well- and just taking a break maybe. I continue to Pray for you periodically because I owe you such a debt of gratitude for mentioning ST. John Cantius Church on this blog site. Viewing their Masses and their Vespers was a real balm to my grieving spirit while we were locked out of our Churches!

Good to "see" you!

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Sophia: thank you for your kind words! How nice of you to look for me here, and even miss me! And even more I appreciate your prayers. You cannot believe how often I think something has gone better for me due to someone's prayers whom I didn't even know was praying for me!

Yes, I am alive and well. I took a break from the internet in general for a while, and have been more selective in what I read and what I comment on. A spiritual thing, I guess. It seems I was becoming embroiled in every single issue and every latest "breaking news!" story, and realized it was just not mentally or emotionally healthy to do so.

If you are interested, St. John Cantius has a ecclesiastical sewing group of ladies named St. Martha's Guild. Here's the link to the website: Lots of great information.

Oh, and by the way, St. John Cantius has scheduled 9 masses for Christmas, beginning with midnight on Dec. 25th. They will also have a mass at 3:00am! An announcement was made last Sunday that sign-ups for Christmas Masses would begin on Nov.30 (Monday) at noon. I looked, and by 1:30pm Midnight Mass was filled.

I am so glad you viewed the Masses and Vespers online during the lock downs. We have seen a big uptick in people actually coming to Mass, and someone told me there were 280 new parishioner registrations just during the month of October. So I think the live-streaming has been a great blessing in a way. I don't know where you live, but if you are ever nearby, please come by in person.

And remember, God has a plan. God always has a plan. :-)

God bless.

Sophia said...

Sophia Here: Thanks for this very positive update and the wisdom expressed-especially about stepping back a bit from some of this insanity! It is good to recall that God does have a plan! And If my Parish does not have a Midnight Mass, I shall certainly be "attending" yours!