For Less Than Porta Potties….

Quod igitur conspicuum fuit Salvatoris Nostri in sacramenta transivit, orloosely translated, “What has been visible of our Savior has passed over into the sacraments”.  It is the essence of why we honor the sacraments, and why we place so much emphasis on the way and place we worship. It is not ‘good enough’ for us to simply place a podium in the middle of a room filled with chairs and add in a band. No, it is much deeper for us, as Catholics, and this is why the building of the new parish is so essentially part of our very soul. Why? Because we believe the Eucharist is essential to the life of the Church, and nothing outshines it.

As we learned in the Franciscan reflection earlier this week, they say that one of the most significant and formative experiences in the life of a parish is the process of building a new church. Saint Miriam is in such a process and it is very exciting and we well on our way! During this process, and even before it was announced, we have endeavored to remain faithful to the Church’s teachings and our liturgical theology, coupled with our parish history, to bring about a plan that would allow us to grow and continue a legacy of love and hope – our ‘radical welcome’!

As Catholics, we believe that from the altar of the cross, Christ accomplished our redemption, forming a holy people, a “temple of God built of living stones, where the Father is worshiped in spirit and in truth.”  The eternal hymn of praise that Christ places within our heart, and on the lips of the entire holy Church, will be sung at the end of time in all its fullness, when all the members gather at the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem! And that is why this should be a time of coming together, of great joy, and of personal sacrifice, as we build something that very few people can ever really claim to do in their lifetime: build a brand new house of worship for the God of the universe!

Just as the term “Church” refers to the living temple, God’s People – us – the term has also been used to describe “the building in which the Christian community gathers to hear the word of God, to pray together, to receive the sacraments, and celebrate the Eucharist.”  Such a house of prayer must be expressive of the real presence of God and suited for the celebration of the sacrifice of Christ, as well as a reflection of the community that celebrates there. That is why we are putting so much effort into the plans to build a beautiful place for all to come, and dwell, and reflect on the very God who gave us life itself, eternal life.

Churches, then, should never be “simply gathering spaces”, but rather signify and make visible the ‘living Church’ and thus itself becoming “a sign of the pilgrim Church on earth and reflects the Church dwelling in heaven.” Our new parish campus will be a place to encounter God, as well as a point of departure on the Church’s unfinished journey toward the reign of God, as we come and go – but always with Christ in our hearts and on our lips.

I have noted how everyone is so very excited about the Papal visit. Soon the City of Philadelphia, and the surrounding area, will be inundated with millions of visitors. The Archdiocese has a budget estimate of well over 45, 000,000 (45 million dollars), and part of that cost, well over $2,000,000 (yes, that’s two million!) will be spent just on Porta Potties! Some are also taking advantage of the lack of enough hotel rooms by offering their one bedroom apartments for upwards of $10,000 for the week. They say they are not taking advantage, but that is exactly what they are doing. It is simply un-Christian! And, in the end, what will they have to show for it?

Look, I am excited about the Holy Father’s visit, too. I still hope to have the opportunity to meet him. But, after a few hours and a Papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, he will be gone, and so will 45+ million dollars. We , on the other hand, are going to build an entire church for less than 1.5 million and it will last lifetimes, many over, many generations to come.

And so at the new Saint Miriam Parish, we will continue the traditions of washing and anointing, breaking the bread, and sharing the cup, raising our arms in blessing and imposing hands as visible signs by which Christ manifests and accomplishes our sanctification and salvation in the Church, and we will do it all for less than the Archdiocese will spend on Porta Potties.

Where will you place your support?