This morning at Mass, our good priest gave an impassioned homily about the momentousness of what we as a Church are experiencing this Lent. It seemed to me he had been reading George Weigel on the subject.
He said that the Church is in a period of transition. Under the leadership of this Pope and his predecessor, we are moving away from being "a maintenance Church" to being "an evangelical Church."
Yes! I agree! I see it too!
But then he added a point that sent up a little red flag for me—not because it's wrong, but because it can be taken wrongly.
He said, in so many words, "We're not about maintaining buildings; we're about winning souls for Christ."
The words jumped out at me, because just the other night, at a Mardi Gras gathering of friends at our house, the main topic of conversation had been about the terrible loss of so many incredibly beautiful churches in our diocese. They are being closed, sold, sometimes demolished, in the name of fiscal responsibility. Our friend, Mike, who is a passionate lover of cutlural splendor, is in agony over it.
Why? Is he an aesthete? Does he not see that "people are more important than things"? Does he want us to be "a maintenance Church" rather than "an evangelical Church"?
No. It is rather exactly because of his love for souls that he is in agony over the loss of these treasures. He loves those buildings for themselves and also for their evangelical power. He understands, as most don't, how they bespeak the glory of God. They lift us out of the mundane and remind us of our vocation to transcendence. They help loose the deadly grip of the utilitarian monster threatening to devour us and our society. They woo, win, soften, enoble, and irrigate our parched hearts...
Maybe I can persuade him to write us a post on the subject. With pictures.