Monday, May 21, was the inaugural celebration of the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. Pope Francis had declared that this new feast day was to be celebrated by the Universal Church on the Monday immediately following Pentecost Sunday. In a way, it’s the Catholic Church’s very own Mother’s Day.
The Archdiocese of Detroit celebrated the feast day by holding a special Mass at Old St. Mary’s in downtown Detroit. I had never been inside Old St. Mary’s. In a word: celestial. It’s a couple days past the feast day, but I wanted to share some pictures I took, as well as my thoughts about the Mass itself and the church.
These photos barely do justice to the church’s magnificent beauty.
Construction of Old St Mary was completed in 1884. Its restoration and preservation is beyond description – to me, this is what a Catholic Church ought to look like. The soaring ceilings, the ornate stonework, the exquisite stained glass, the prominence of the tabernacle, artwork in every nook and cranny, recognizable confessionals that don’t resemble broom closets, finely carved statues of Christ, Mary, and numerous saints…it is heaven on Earth.
The Mass was reverent as every Mass ought to be. No goofiness or silliness. Clouds of incense, the tolling of Sanctus bells, majestic organ music, use of the communion rail – those things and more, reminding us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is so much more than a meal, or community hospitality function. It is at once our earthly worship of God, united with the eternal worship of God in heaven, and a re-presentation of Christ’s death on the cross. Nothing about that Mass nor the church’s architecture or design brought the focus back to me – everything was directed towards God, through Jesus. As every Mass and church ought to do, but sadly so many don’t.
After the Mass, a Marian procession was held (indoors due to inclement weather – otherwise it would have processed through the Greektown distict), followed by adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A fitting end to the celebration – Mary always points us to her Son.
If Old St Mary’s wasn’t so far from my home, it’d be my home parish. At the very least, I can attend the daily 12:15 PM Mass once or twice a week. This church – like so many others built at that time, and fortunate to still be in use – represents the tiniest of fractions of Heaven’s beauty, directing our thoughts, aspirations, and desires of being forever united with God. I can’t wait to go back.
(All photos property of Larry Denninger and A Catholic Misfit. Please ask if you’d like to share.)
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