I spoke in my last post about attitude and was reminded of the effect this can have when I was in the USA recently. I was fortunate to visit the Carmel of the Infant of Prague, Traverse City, Michigan. There are only five Sisters there - of varying ages - but they are not planning for inevitable decline and finding ways to manage for eventual closure. Quite the contrary, trusting in God's providence, they seem to have renewed their efforts to live the full Carmelite life. As their web site puts it:
Gregorian Chant in Latin
Ordinary and Extraordinary Form Masses."
Perhaps what is most telling of their sense of confidence in the Holy Spirit is the renewal of their liturgical life through the remodelling of their church and sanctuary. This went form what you see above to what you see below. Quite a stunning change, designed by architect Duncan Stroik. The Sisters put it rather well on their web-site - they wanted to "free the sanctuary of its dated look". They are still planning for the future. Great attitude!
While it probably is necessary to close some parishes here in the UK, there is a sense that we have no confidence that things will ever improve, that the message of God in all its richness will find a home among our fellow citizens ever again. The loss of confidence that we are only managing our eventual annihilation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps we hardly believe in the supernatural any more, so how can we hope to inspire others to do so? Nowhere is this more reflected than in the physical environment of our churches and liturgy. There seems to be a great desire to domesticate the liturgical space: it is to be carpeted like our sitting rooms, focus on altars the size of tables, contain a children's play area, chairs and no kneelers, devoid of any statues, everything on the sanctuary is to be accessible, touchable, approachable, not set aside. In domesticating the space and the liturgy we domesticate God; the supernatural becomes merely human and robbed of all its power to inspire and to speak of the world we cannot see, the world of eternity. The Faith is tamed and who wants to go and see a toothless tiger? Jesus had "attitude" and so should we.