Easter message – Bishop Johan Bonny

Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp considers the Christian faith’s authenticity and the physicality of the Resurrection.

johan-bonny“Good friends,

How do you know if someone is sincere? How do you feel if someone is genuine? There is a simple measure: when the body confirms, or even transcends, the language of words. What use do I have for someone who says a lot about solidarity, but never shakes my hand? What use do I have for someone who has good views about the family, but is never home? What use do I have for someone who speaks about human rights, but always eats at the most expensive tables? The proof of the pudding is not in thoughts or words, but in the body. Where you go, from whom you make an effort, with whom your body wears or ages: that is the measure of authenticity. Ordinary people know this all too well.

Christians believe that God’s Word became “man” in Jesus. In the Greek and Latin it actually says that God Word became “flesh”, or took on bodily form, in Jesus. God did not limit Himself to words and promises. He did not get stuck in conversations with His people. Undoubtedly some wished He did: the continuation of a fiery discussion with God, with arguments for and against. God did not walk into that trap. He became man in Jesus, a man of flesh and blood, who embodied what He said. People looked at Jesus and saw that He was sincere: towards them and towards God.

Jesus paid a great price for that. When people could no longer stand His words, He had to go. It wasn’t so much His message that had to be fought or denied. It was God’s “becoming man” in flesh and blood that had to be blocked, if need be with brutal violence. That which made Jesus bodily present, that had to end. Silence fell around Jesus on Good Friday. Nothing had to be said any longer. His dead body on the cross surpassed the words He could have said. By the way, there was no one who wanted to hear them anymore. His body was laid in the tomb.

At Easter we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. In the Creed we will solemnly sing that we believe in “the Resurrection of the body”. That is indeed what Easter is about: about our faith in the resurrection of the body. Jesus is risen completely and forever. Everything in Him has been brought to completion and glory by the Father. Nothing was left behind, least of all the body with which He had confirmed His words and completed His sacrifice. After Easter Jesus carried in His hands and sides the scars from the Cross. Thomas could put his fingers in them. That completed the wonder and joy of the disciples. In Jesus, the Father most certainly made a man of flesh and blood rise from death!

The power of the Resurrection does not hover like  cloud above the earth. It enters this world and our loves, into the core of our humanity. And especially: it enters the language of the body. Places where the Resurrection breaks through have everything to do with the proof of the pudding, which has to come from the body. Where strangers shake hands, where a volunteer pushes a wheelchair, where a child is born, where an ill person struggles with pain, where partners remain loyal, where the gun is put down, where a kiss is genuine, where food aid is being distributed, where gossip falls silent, where solidarity can come from gut feeling: that is where the power of the Resurrection breaks through. Where the body can put the signature of God, that is where the world has a future.

I wholeheartedly wish you a happy Easter!”

Original text

“Unreserved faith” – Archbishop Léonard on St. Joseph and Pope Francis

It’s been a while since this blog featured some words by the great archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, André-Joseph Léonard. Below is my translation of his homily on the occasion of Pope Francis’ installation, yesterday.

The cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, where the Mass was held, could not house all the faithful who had come. Among them was Queen Fabiola. Archbishop Léonard concelebrated with the other Belgian bishops – except for Ghent’s Bishop Van Looy, who was in Rome – Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, the Nuncio to Belgium and Luxembourg, and Archbishop Alain Lebeaupin, Nuncio to the European Union.

The archbishop speaks about the unreserved faith of St. Joseph, and also paints a picture of Pope Francis which shows him as a continuation of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in his modesty and humility.

léonard“Providence decided that the inthronisation of Pope Francis would take place on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, but also patron saint of Belgium. Allow me to consider that a small wink in our direction…

This morning the bishop of Ghent, Monsignor Luc Van Looy, represented the bishops of Belgium at the installation in Rome. I am grateful to him for that, as well as to our voting cardinal, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who stayed in Rome for the occasion. In the spirit of simplicity that already characterises our new Holy Father, and since the Belgian representation in Rome was already assured, I thought it better to stay in Belgium to thank God with you all and with my fellow bishops for the gift of Pope Francis.

Saint Joseph played a major part in our salvation history. Eve though he is only the foster father, not the biological father of Jesus, it is yet he who, within the framework of Jewish law, assures that Jesus – the Messiah (in Hebrew) or the Christ (in Greek) – descends from David, of whom we heard in the first reading of this liturgy.

The second reading was chosen to illustrate the faith of Saint Joseph, which may be compared to that of Abraham. For Abraham had faith without reservations in the word of God, which proclaimed that he, despite his and his wife’s advanced age, would be the father of many peoples. And he kept believing in that, even if the apparent death of Isaac, his only son, seemed to rob him of any hope of offspring. Abraham had faith in God, without any reservations. And because of that God recognised him as righteous.

But Joseph as well, he too, had to believe – almost blindly, in a complete surrender – that what had happened with his wife Mary came from God and not from man. He had to efface himself in a radical faith, for an act of God which transcends any understanding; an act which makes us say in the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary.”

And the Gospel of today shows us what it cost Joseph, but Mary as well, to make themselves so very small for that mysterious work in Jesus. “Son,” Mary says to Jesus, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And then that shocking answer of Jesus! The answer of a child who is only twelve years old, but who already knows that he came from God, who knows, deep inside, what we express in the Nicean Creed, that He is “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.” Hence His confusing answer: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Mary had spoken about “Your father and I”, but Jesus quietly corrects His mother’s words: He speaks of “My Father” when He refers to the God of Israel, who resides in the temple in Jerusalem. When Jesus has stayed behind in Jerusalem, that is not the flight of a teenager, but because He – in the innocence of twelve-year-old child – wanted to stay in the House of Him who is His true Father: “In my Father’s house is where I had to be”. And Luke acutely says about Joseph and Mary, “they did not understand what he said to them”.  But they will understand later. After they had kept the events in their hearts and considered them for a long time.

Saint Joseph, then, played a major role in the life of the Church. Through him, because of his role as foster father, Jesus discovered in His human conscience the father figure of God, His sole and unique Father.

Our previous Pope, Benedict XVI, whose baptismal name is Joseph, was also characterised by humility and a great modesty. We don’t know a lot yet about his successor, the Bishop of Rome, Francis. But the first signs which he has given in only a few days clearly indicate that the patronage of Saint Francis of Assisi is not just empty words for him. He will be humble, like Benedict XVI, not just in his personality, but also in the outward signs of his mission as successor of Peter. Like Saint Joseph he will consider himself merely a foster father – if I may say it like that – knowing that we are all children of the one true Father, our heavenly Father, and that the Church, the Bride of Christ, is not here just for herself, but only to lead to truth, goodness and the beauty of her only love: the Christ, her bridegroom.

Of course, there were some in the media – which have the valuable task to inform us – who immediately tried to paint our new shepherd in a negative light. But just as fast there were voices, normally not too inclined to speak positively about the Vatican, which, supported by documents, pointed out the baselessness of these accusations. Let us, for our part, thank God for the gift He gives us: not just a new Pope, but also a shepherd with a totally new style. And let us – like he asked us so touchingly on the night of his election – pray intensely for him, for the universal Church for which he has responsibility, and for this world of which he is the foremost spiritual and moral guide. Amen.”

Photo credit: Phk/Kerknet

Credo – our faith confessed, part 4

The Creed is the faith that we confess at every Mass, and it is therefore a summary of what we believe, the truths we hold as such – truths. These truths not only identify what we believe in, but also who we are. They form our Catholic identity.

On the road towards the Year Of Faith, I want to take a look at the Nicene Creed, line by line, to see what it tells us about the truth of being Catholic Christians.

born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light,true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.

We continue to profess the identity of Christ, and more specifically, His relationship with God the Father. The first line in this section once again repeats that the Son came forth from the Father alone, as we found out in the last post in this series. The following lines seem to want to emphasise that, and in doing so they also underline that the Son is God, just like the Father. Both are divine persons of one being. There are no levels of Godhood, the one is not more or less God than the other. God from God, even true God from true God.

The Creed also presents us with a handy simile: The reflection of the sun on water is no less light than the sunlight directly hitting our eye. Christ is no less God than the Father. They are both God, just as the reflected light and the direct sunlight are both light. The comparison doesn’t completely fly, but it’s a handy enough introductory one.

Christ came forth, was begotten, from the Father. He is pertinently not part of Creation, although He did dwell fully in it. God the Father did not create His Son like He created Adam. This indicates a difference, a hierarchy. By His entire being, Christ is of another level than us men. It’s hard to imagine otherwise, since we already know that God exists outside of Creation, and since Christ is God…

Considered a difficult word by some, ‘consubstantial’ offers a glimpse of the Father-Son relationship within the Trinity (of which we’ll encounter the third person later). A literal translation of this word, which is derived from Latin consubstantialis, would be ‘of the same substance’. In this case ‘substance’ indicates matter but also being, and that is the important element here. God the Father and God the Son are distinct beings, but they are of one being, one substance.

This is not the place to delve in the doctrine of the Trinity, so let’s leave it at this. We confess that Jesus is God, in no way less so than God the Father, and He is forever (“before all ages”) begotten of the Father.

Photo credit: Kitty Goeman

Credo – our faith confessed, part 3

The Creed is the faith that we confess at every Mass, and it is therefore a summary of what we believe, the truths we hold as such – truths. These truths not only identify what we believe in, but also who we are. They form our Catholic identity.

On the road towards the Year Of Faith, I want to take a look at the Nicene Creed, line by line, to see what it tells us about the truth of being Catholic Christians.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God

From the Father we now move to the Son. This line from the Creed tells us a few things about Him. First of all, it tells us who He is: Jesus Christ, and He is our one Lord. This statement identifies the Son – He is the one we can read about in the Gospels – and also grounds Him in our historical reality, for the person of Jesus Christ is also a historical figure. He lived among us at a specific time and place. God, in the person of the Son, came to us in a way that we can verify and understand; He lived among us , shared our lives and reality.

He is our one Lord, indicating that there is a relationship of authority and responsibility between us and Him. Christ has authority, but the responsibility goes both ways. Subsequent lines in the Creed will further explore the reasons for both His authority and our and His responsibility.

Christ is also the “only begotten Son of God”. In the first place, this tells us that He is unique. There is none like Him, not other sons or daughters of God. The word ‘begotten’ tells us that He came forth from the Father without some female involvement: this was not procreation in the human sense. The Son, Jesus Christ, came from God the Father as His only and unique Son.

Art credit: ‘Portrait of Christ’ by Jan van Eyck (1440)

Credo – our faith confessed, part 2

The Creed is the faith that we confess at every Mass, and it is therefore a summary of what we believe, the truths we hold as such – truths. These truths not only identify what we believe in, but also who we are. They form our Catholic identity.

On the road towards the Year Of Faith, I want to take a look at the Nicene Creed, line by line, to see what it tells us about the truth of being Catholic Christians.

Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible

Continuing from the first lines of the Nicene Creed, we further develop the identification of who God is. He is a creating God and His creation envelops everything we know and also the things we do not know.

God stands at the root of everything, but He is not a part of it. The creator is not part of creation, but nonetheless willed it into being. Creation – everything we see, from lifeless matter to our loved ones  was willed, desired by God. This is also an essential element of our relationship with God. We are not an accident, we have a purpose, a reason for being. That reason is that we are wanted, we are loved even.

This knowledge is, in many ways, far more important than the exact details of how God went about creating everything. We will most certainly never know all the details of the process of creation, although the sciences can surely teach us much about it. But it suffices to know what the reason behind the process is.

God is the maker of all things, reaching far beyond or knowledge and abilities, but He has chosen to want and love us and everything around us.

Art credit: ‘The Ancient of Days’, by William Blake (1794)

Credo – our faith confessed, part 1

The Creed is the faith that we confess at every Mass, and it is therefore a summary of what we believe, the truths we hold as such – truths. These truths not only identify what we believe in, but also who we are. They form our Catholic identity.

On the road towards the Year Of Faith, I want to take a look at the Nicene Creed, line by line, to see what it tells us about the truth of being Catholic Christians.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty

In the first line of the Creed we find that every word has meaning. It starts of with “I believe”, indicating that this is my confession. It is not merely some statement that applies to all who say it in a general sense; no, it is intensely personal. This implies that, when we say the Creed, we should really try to do so consciously, aware of what we are saying, and, equally important, to whom. Are we telling the people around us what we believe, or do we direct our words, like everything in the liturgy of Mass, towards our Lord God?

Which handily leads us to the rest of that first line. We believe “in one God”. There is a single God, and that God is one. That’s not just some juggling with words, but it tells us something about God. He is unique, there are no others like Him. This has an effect on our relationships with other religions (although this is not the place to delve into the intricacies of ecumenism), but also focusses our worship, our relationship with Him. He is not an option among many, He is the only option, really.

He is also “the Father”. God is a father, which gives a hint about how we relate to Him: like children to a father. Like human fathers (or fathers as they should be, to be fair), God loves us. He also has a responsibility towards us, like a father has to his children. A responsibility to love, raise and educate them. Fathers also usually know better than their children, and we trust them to act for our wellbeing, even if we don’t appreciate their actions or decisions at the time. We know that God is for us, never against us.

Lastly, we state that God is “almighty”. He exceeds all earthly powers and strength, standing, as we will learn in the next line of the Creed, above all creation. All that we see around us, all that we are capable of, finds its source in the almighty God. His might is not something earned or achieved, but something that is innate to His being.

Art credit: God the Father, by Antoniazzo Romano (1489)

“It is time to throw open wide the doors”- Abp. Fisichella on the new evangelisation

Just before the weekend, Archbishop Salvatore ‘Rino’ Fisichella delivered the closing remarks at Proclaim 2012, a three-day conference hosted by the bishops of Australia in Sydney. The text, which is available in my Dutch translation here, is not only full of enticing sound bytes, but also serves as an excellent primer for the upcoming Year of Faith and the new evangelisation. Not coincidentally, Archbishop Fisichella runs the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation.

There are several focal points in the talk, but the first, and most important one, is Jesus Christ being at the heart of the new evangelisation. His resurrection, and our proclamation of it, are what the whole thing is about.

“[W]e are called to renew the proclamation of Jesus Christ, of the mystery of his death and resurrection to stimulate people once more to have faith in him by means of conversion of life. If our eyes were still capable of seeing into the depths of the events which mark the lives of our contemporaries, it would be easy to show how much this message still holds a place of special importance. Therefore, we need to direct our reflection towards the meaning of life and death, and of life beyond death; to face such questions, those affecting people’s existence and determining their personal identity, Jesus Christ cannot be an outsider. If the proclamation of the new evangelization does not find its power in the element of mystery which surrounds life and which relates us to the infinite mystery of the God of Jesus Christ, it will not be capable of the effectiveness required to elicit the response of faith.”

Without divulging the entire contents of the text which you should just go and read for yourself, there is one remark which can be a good suggestion for catechesis:

“Central to the Year of Faith will be a focus upon the Profession of Faith. This will serve to return the Profession of Faith to its prominent place as the daily prayer of every Christian. To facilitate this, we have produced an edition of the Nicene Creed, which is the most familiar symbol to Christians due to its frequent usage within the context of Sunday Mass.”

The Creed, or Profession of Faith, is something we profess in every Mass we attend. But, as with all things we hear and say often, there is a risk of it losing its impact and meaning for us. Let’s dive into the Creed and analyse it step by step, line by line, word by word even, if need be. Just a suggestion for the Year of Faith.

The artificial opposition of faith and dogma

With a sign proclaiming 'We remain San Salvator', protesters continue being stubborn

Over the past week or so, I have come across a number of instances in which the faith of the average churchgoing people is put in opposition to the rules or dogmas which are handed down from Rome. Some examples:

  • The ongoing dispute between the Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch and the parish of San Salvator (they have now claimed to be expecting a break with the diocese, looking for alternative locations to continue their ‘services’, and they will bar Auxiliary Bishop Mutsaerts from entering the church through passive resistance (although he is invited to attend one of their priestless Masses – what Masses?!)).
  • An announcement of the Mariënburg-old-codgers’-club-of-‘critical’-Catholics’ upcoming annual symposium centered around the question of what they still believe (judging from the words of chairman Erik Jurgens, who said he doesn’t need to believe in the Trinity or take the Creed seriously to be a good Catholic, they don’t believe in anything much).
  • Retweets by the Dutch Dominicans of an article by a one of their own warning us against believing that Christ is, in fact, God.
  • And, lastly, an assurance from theological publishers’ Berne Heeswijk that one of their new publication “will not be going the way of dogma, but the way of the faithful”.

Just some examples, but indicative of a trend that, although often not very visible, is still well alive. To me, the division between the faithful on the one hand and dogma on the other is an artificial separation, which is potentially very dangerous. It’s not as if these are not related or connected in any way.They are, and we need both.

Faith is our answer to God. As the Catechism tells us: “Faith is man’s response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life” [26]. God takes the first step, we respond. The faith is our response to God’s active revelation and gift. Since it comes from God, this gift is perfect, but our faith is not automatically perfect: it is, after all, our response, and we are merely human. Were our response perfect, the relation between God and us may have been something like that between a programmer and a computer: the programmer inputs something and the outcome of his input is perfect and predictable. We’d be mindless automatons when it came to faith. But we are not. God created us with free will, we are free to act and to choose in all we do, including our quest for God or our denial of Him.

A consequence of that free will is that we have to be active partners in our relationship with God, in our faith. God helps us, but we need to do some of the work ourselves as well. Otherwise, again, we’d be left without choice and freedom. God offers his assistance in that through the Church he founded (Matthew 16:18-19). In the Church we find the means to develop our faith, to allow it to grow.

In the Gospel of John we read the Parable of the Vine (15-1-11). Jesus tells us there: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a branch — and withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and are burnt” And later: “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”

Jesus asks us to remain in Him, to keep His commandments and His teachings, lest we be thrown away and come to nothing. Now, Jesus’ teaching includes some very clear dogmas, so to speak: He is God, there are various things we need to do and understand to be able to follow Him. In other words, there are certain rules we need to follow.  Just like the sabbath was made for us, and not we for the sabbath (Mark 2:27), the rules are there for us, not we for the rules. They allow us to grow in faith, to reach our full potential. The rules are also educational: they teach us about God and His identity, and likewise about ourselves, through the things we say do and believe.

What’s the consequence of we do not follow the rules that Christ gave us, and which were later given to us by the Church with the authority given to her by Christ? We need only to look at San Salvator, Mariënburg, the Dutch Dominicans, Berne Heeswijk… and so many others.  Places were faith is a matter of mere feelings and nice thoughts. We will wither and come to nothing.

There is no opposition between the dogmas and the faith of the common man, so to speak. The former helps the latter achieve his full potential, which does require a conscious effort and desire to achieve in us.

An interesting related question to this whole matter is what comes first: our conscience or the teachings of the Church? Father Juan R. Vélez offers an interesting article about that very question, offering answers based on the teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman. The article is also available in Dutch.

‘Tis the season…

… for bishops to write Advent letters to the faithful in their dioceses. In the Netherlands, Archbishop Wim Eijk of Utrecht, Bishop Gerard de Korte of Groningen-Leeuwarden and Bishop Frans Wiertz of Roermond have done so today. Let’s take a look at what the monsignori have chosen to write about…

Archbishop Eijk’s letter has the title Looking forward in expectation. His main topic is the loss of faith in so many, and how we can combat that by cultivating a more childlike faith.”It is this unconditional faith,” the archbishop writes, “that Jesus speaks about when people one day bring children to Him to have Him bless them. Jesus’ disciples sternly refuse these people, but Jesus indignantly said, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it|  (Mark 10, 13-16). And St. Matthew writes: “In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 18, 3). This ‘becoming children of God’ (St. John even speaks of “being born from above”, John 3, 7) means that we must entrust ourselves to God. It also means that we lovingly acknowledge and accept one another as brothers and sisters, children of our heavenly Father. Seen like this, Advent is a fitting time to reflect on our relationship with God and with our neighbour, and also on the fruits of love, joy, peace and mercy.”

Later on in the letter, Archbishop Eijk urges the reader to take a step, a leap of faith, especially when we have lost faith. “He who loses his faith, never loses it completely. After all, God has traveled with you on your journey for a while and has left mark within you.”

Bishop de Korte’s letter is called The value of defencelessness, and in it he writes about our dependency on God, and also how God has chosen to be dependent on us.

“The God of Scripture, Who has gotten a face over the course of the history of Israel, shows Himself vulnerable, defenceless and dependent in Christ. It is a central topic in Biblical revelation. God,Creator of the visible and the invisible, has come to stand next to us, in Christ, vulnerable. The God of the Bible, who is always greater than we people can imagine, is man among men, in all defencelessness. In Christ, He is servant to the end. Self-giving, reconciliating, bleeding love. But God is not toothless. The way of Cross, after all, has become the way towards life. The Church lives on the mystery of Easter. Christ is the Living One. From the mystery of cross and resurrection we may therefore speak of the defenceless might of our God.”

The bishop closes with emphasising how, in these times of darkness, a recognition of our vulnerability and dependency may be important. Exactly then does Christ support and carry us as a friend.

Bishop Wiertz, then, also writes about times of darkness. He mentions the abuse crisis and the effect it may have on the average believer. The bishop presents the coming of Christ as a new start, and this Advent may especially be a new start for the Church.

“In the Creed we confess the ‘holiness of the Church’. An entitlement that many may find misplaced in the current situation. But do realise: the holiness of the Church never depends on the achievements of us people; it is always a fruit of the Holy Spirit and His gifts. That pure Spirit of faith and love is, thanks be to God, still working in our Church: in people who are united with God in prayer and who help their neighbour in unselfish love.

“But as the Council has said in all clarity: that same holy Church is yet always called to purification (Lumen Gentium, 8).As a Church of people she is always a Church of sinners. Every day again she must confess her guilt: “Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6, 12). Saint Paul says with reason: The Church carries the richness of Christ in earthen vessels, so that it is evident that the immensity of power comes from God and not from us (vg. 2 Cor 4, 7).

“Let us not lose our love for the Church, despite all the shortcomings of, especially her servants, but strengthen it. Christ does not abandon His Church. He remains loyal to her. His Spirit keeps working in her often poor figure. Despite her sinful brokenness.”

National Heritage Day at the cathedral

The nave of the cathedral as seen from the choir loft

Yesterday the monumental and historical buildings in the city of Groningen were open to the public, since it was National Heritage Day (although other places organise that today). Among those buildings was the cathedral of St. Joseph. I was involved in the activities as a tour guide: I conducted three 45-minute tours which were pretty well received. Not too bad for a first-timer.

The above photo does not do the attendance justice: all in we welcomed some 380 visitors which, considering that the promotional material for the Heritage Day failed to include our cathedral and its opening times, is not bad at all…

I especially enjoyed the questions and comments from non-Catholics, some of whom were surprised how close the Catholic faith is to their own Protestant Christianity. I think the ubiquitous Biblical reference sprinkled throughout the cathedral may have contributed to that: the nave, for example, features the Ten Commandments, the Creed and the Beatitudes on the walls and pillars, not to mention the Stations of the Cross and depictions from the life of Saint Joseph and the Holy Family.

The opportunity for people who were interested to go on up to the choir loft, where our titular organist Sjoerd Ruisch was playing, was also very popular. Mr. Ruisch enjoyed himself as well, having the chance to explain all about the intricacies of the century-old Maarschalkweerd organ.

Stained glass windows above the organ on the choir loft

The tour I had come up with (essentially on the day before…) was not just a tour of the building, but also a very basic introduction to the Catholic faith. That was not by accident: the appearance and history of a Catholic church is – or should be – dictated by the fact that Jesus Christ is physically present. So I didn’t just discuss architecture and local history, but also various sacraments, the Blessed Virgin and the saints, the practice of receiving Communion and much more like that.