Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Octave Reflections: Welcome to the World of Saint James in Chicago!

Happy Easter to one and all.

I will probably be spending the entire Easter octave sharing my own experiences of the Triduum at my parish, St. James. I took lots of photos during the week and will be sharing these with you.

As many of you know, I have been the interim music director since the beginning of Lent. Our new director began on Palm Sunday and was my able "shadow" as we moved through the week. He played several pieces during the Triduum and I am confident that the parish's music program is in very capable hands.

Let me begin by saying that it was quite a challenge to prepare and pray these liturgies in a church hall. Here's a photo of the blessing of palms on Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion. Don't you love those beautiful fluorescent lights hanging above the celebrant?

The balcony can be seen in this photo. It serves now as a kind of extended storage sacristy. My legs are still sore from going up and down the stairs to retrieve cloths and flowers and everything else we needed.

At the other end of the "hall" is our wonderful stage, upon which many parish productions have been staged over the years. We decided to make use of the stage area to create the chapel of repose on Holy Thursday. We also used it for our burial service on Good Friday night. Here are a few photos.

I think we did a pretty good job, given the spatial limitations.

On Friday morning, I met with the new music director and the pastor. I wanted the new director to actually see the church interior, which I had not seen in almost a year. I was shocked when I entered our venerable old space. Much work has been done on the interior, but it really is quite a mess. This is the reason why we are worshipping in the parish hall:

Notice the areas where the plaster has been removed. The wooden supports here are being reinforced with custom-designed steel supports. This church should stand for five hundred years. It looks like we might be back inside some time within the next eighteen months. This building is a jewel. You can imagine how different it is in the parish hall for those of us who had become used to praying in the church.

One thing struck me about all of this. It mattered little where we celebrated the Triduum. All I know is that I came away from the weekend grateful to God that I have been given the gift of the Catholic faith. Folks, I needed Easter this year more than you know. Celebrating Christ's triumph over sin and death hit me squarely in the heart. I was reminded once again that in baptism, I have been grafted onto this vine. Sin and death have no more power over me. For this great miracle, I begin this Easter Octave and this great fifty days in gratitude to God and in awe of the enormity of the paschal mystery.

More to come as the week unfolds.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Chase said...

The church of St. James has certainly been through some rough times over the past nearly 40 years, starting with the fire and now these structural issues.

It's wonderful to see how consistently dedicated this parish has been to the restoration and rehabilitation of their historic church building!

It will also be wonderful to hear the Roosevelt Organ once again!