Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Church of the Holy Family

As you may or may not know, I was in Minnesota last week, for my wife's Grandmother's funeral. We had visited her in January, and had a wonderful last visit with her, and so while this was a sad event, our memories of our last time with her and the fact that she was a deeply faithful Catholic made the funeral a celebration of life.

I have a friend on plurk, Adoro te Devote, who lives in the twin cities, and each time I visit I always wish I could meet her in person, but it has so far worked out that there is no time to do so. I still hope to meet her "the next time." This time she did, however, recommend that we attend mass at either the Church of the Holy Family or St. Charles Borromeo while we were in town. We wound up at the Church of the Holy Family in St Louis Park, since it was less out of the way on the way to the airport. Of course it didn't matter, since our flight was delayed and ultimately canceled, but that's another story, and we didn't know it at the time.

The church itself is a beautiful old brick building. I have no idea how old, as both the "history" and "architecture" sections of their web site say "Coming soon!" Behind the altar is a beautiful tabernacle with golden angels kneeling on either side and a light behind it to drawn your attention where it should be. The stained glass window behind the altar depicts the Holy Family, with Joseph and Jesus working with carpentry tools. At the chancel is a large hanging crucifix with Mary and John looking up at Jesus, which you can see in the photo above. I took that with my phone when we arrived. I didn't take any other pictures because we had to leave to get to the airport so we could wait seven hours for our flight to be canceled.

As for the mass, I would have to say wow! A herd (gaggle? exaltation?) of alter boys (not servers, boys) came out, followed by acolytes, a lector, deacon and two priests (one was the visiting diocesan director of vocations). It was hard, with all the moving about, to count them, but we eventually settled on twenty two (22!) altar boys. Just about every act involved incense, from the preparation of the gifts to the readings - my poor wife has a bit of an allergy to incense, and had a headache by the end of mass.

The sign of peace was given before mass began, which prevented the usual disruption to the liturgy, and gave everyone plenty of time to greet all those around them. The Kyrie Eleison was sung in Greek and the Gloria, Agnus Dei and some other parts were sung in Latin. It was beautiful, and despite what people say, I understood what was being said, despite not knowing Latin or Greek. The homily was by the vocations director, and was naturally about vocations, and how to seriously discern ones vocation.

Although parts of the mass looked more like a school play, with vast numbers of altar boys milling about with candles and incense, the entire mass was performed with intense reverence. The priest was careful to use the pall at all times (the square that covers the chalice to protect it from dust and stuff) and to treat the consecrated species with utmost care and respect. Communion was offered by intinction (where the priest dips the Host into the Precious Blood and places it on your tongue), which I had never seen before. Of course this meant that nearly everybody (except a few die hards) received on the tongue.

Announcements were after the mass (and as far as I could tell nobody left), and the one I recall most was an appeal for volunteers to help with the parish's Lenten program to make meals for Feed my Starving Children. They were looking for 340 or so volunteers! After the announcements a gentleman gave a talk about the upcoming changes to the liturgy, with handouts and examples of the new language and what the changes meant. After that, people began drifting out. A majority of the congregation remained in their pews and prayed.

I have to say it was wonderful to see so many people so devoted to their faith, and a Catholic community so active and alive. According to the web site, the parish has steadily grown by almost 100 families per year. I can see why.


It is a wonderful parish. So glad you could make it there and yes, I hope we can meet...eventually!

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