Holy Name Cathedral – Chicago

October 30, 2016 – 31st Sunday in ordinary time:  Vacation church visit

Chicago has several historic churches.   The Holy Name Cathedral enjoys five masses on Sunday and a program that is 16 pages long with the center fold, appropriately, reserved for the Order of Worship.  The parish started in 1843, not envisioning the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871.  “Holy Name Pastor and Rector, Fr. John McMullen, finds all the parish buildings in flames upon his return to the campus from elsewhere in the city. He retrieves the Blessed Sacrament; all else is lost.”


One-hundred and thirty five years later I am a guest pilgrim in a pew.  A purist at heart, I prefer minimalist presentation.  There is a sense of sacred grace in a small space, with quiet prayer, a small congregation of the faithful, and a Priest providing Mass in its simplest form.  This is not the church for that presentation.

In the middle of the city of Chicago it has risen from the ashes and claimed its place as a historic site.   However, that does not make it a place filled with the presence of God.  The church, although framed by the finest architecture and possessing a beautiful interior, possesses something more.

Perhaps it is the organ?

Though it can’t play itself.

Mass was given by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller.  He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.  This led to more pomp and circumstance!  A German Cardinal with a strong accent gave a certain sense of authenticity.

The incense is always magical for me and it was plentiful today.   The readings were  not the most powerful for me personally.

I have covered almost all the elements except the people in the pews and the Eucharist.   The mystery of the latter and the faith of the former are what I believe brings a church alive.

Despite being a purist, the grandeur of pomp and circumstance, of music, of art, of great architecture, fills this church and does not distract from the faith but multiplies it.   There is a reverence to God captured by the creative abilities of man invested in these artistic expressions that when joined with the synergy of the mass, the faithful, and the Holy Spirit avoids the deadly trap of pomp and circumstance that derives its power from man’s false pride.

Pope Francis understands its place and his place and knows the power and risk of pomp and circumstance.  There is a place for majestic cathedrals and a place for fiats!

To truly appreciate churches, you have to go inside and spend some sacred time!  If not, its just a relic of stone awaiting an audience or the deterioration of time.





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