About a year and a half later, my heart has been broken again.My sisters and I after Easter Sunday Mass
The closing of Incarnation Parish comes as no surprise. Even with the fundraising project I organized, I knew the buildings were too badly damaged - the community too fractured and jaded - to come back from the blow of losing our school.
And yet even knowing that the closure was to be announced did nothing to lessen the blow. Still my heart breaks knowing that the beauty of Incarnation's art, stained glass and communal spirit will be shuttered and stowed away.
It's hard to explain to folks why such news is so crushing. "It's just a building," they say. "There are other churches you can go to" they soothe.
And to a parish-hopper like myself, that might make sense. After all, I subscribe to the belief that ALL Catholic churches are homes of the Almighty God. I believe that they're all various rooms in His House and since each one boasts His Presence in the tabernacle, I shouldn't concern myself so much with any one in particular. They're each part of the Church (capital "C").
Still, though, I feel a very deep loss. The pain of loss is not just spiritual or emotional... it is physical. On my way home, I felt as if my heart was slowly being skewered by a spear. This physically hurts.
And I wondered why - aloud.
How can I explain such a painful, emotional reaction to news that a building is closing?
Because it's not just a building. It's my spiritual home... the place I first heard the Gospel, the school that raised me in the ways of Catholic Tradition, the church that celebrated with me my 1st Sacraments, the community that was and, in many ways continues to be, my extended family.
Knowing that so many of us will now be displaced and- for lack of a better word - homeless, it is a terribly sad and hurtful thing. I feel the confusion, frustration, anger and loneliness of my community. All over the Archdiocese, parishes are closing, beloved pastors are being reassigned and church communities are being told they are no longer going to have their familiar places of worship, comfort and prayer. The reason this is so heartbreaking to us is that many of those in these churches put their blood, sweat and tears into building their communities.
Our unparalleled stained glass
Incarnation, for example, still boasts the artist who painted some of our beautiful artwork in the sanctuary. Their families are still members of the parish! Families who have donated statues, the grotto areas, even those who volunteered their time and expertise in repairing architectural damage, painting the interior, and replacing broken panels of stained glass...
These families are still a part of the living, breathing community of Incarnation. The same is true ALL OVER Philadelphia. In many ways we feel as though we are being kicked out of the home and family we've forged through our years of love, worship and sacrifice there. Incarnation is our home because we MADE it our home in our united desire to worship God through serving one another.
The Body of Christ on earth is bleeding out, and I sometimes feel as if the wrists have been slit here in Philadelphia.
Oh prayers, fellow bloggers. This extends far beyond Incarnation... even beyond the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Satan's smoke has been suffocating our beloved Church for many, many years now. Our apathy, pursuit of pleasure and arrogance opened the door for him, and now we're choking on the illusion of fulfillment he gave us.
Mercy, Lord. We are our own undoing. Even with my rose-colored glasses, I know Incarnation was hurting for quite a while. I accept the closure as punishment for the transgressions we allowed...
Our priests found guilty of so many abuses.
Our laity falling lax in love, faith and worship.
Our communal apathy regarding keeping your house pristine and structurally sound.
Our disregard for true financial support given your many blessings to us.
Our arrogant superiority based on our blessed history in Olney.
We really were once "the" parish in N. Philadelphia. I suppose, given our history, we felt ourselves untouchable. I know as a child there, I never imagined there would come a day that Inky would close its doors. How in the world could I have foreseen such a tragedy? This place was, in so many ways, a touch of Heaven.
1st Communion - Mary and I
I remember as a sacristan, walking through the churches (upper and lower) after all the Masses were finished for the day. I felt so close to Heaven in those moments - completely alone with Jesus in the tabernacle.
I remember all my wonderful sacraments celebrated there... Holy Communion, Confirmation, my 1st Reconciliation. Baptism happened at Inky, too, but you'll forgive my 3 week old self for not remembering that one so well. *Grin*
I also remember as a rectory sitter the many times strangers would come to the door asking for food or clothing. How gratified I felt in making a simple sandwich or handing over clothes / canned food from the downstairs pantry! How VISIBLE Divine Providence was as I took part in it at Incarnation!
And now to whom shall these people turn? To whom shall they go seeking refuge, clothing or food?
Yet another church is closed which cauterizes a faithful avenue for Divine Providence to use.
How my heart bleeds its sorrow. How my soul prays for hope that this terrible cancer in our Church is healed by our Merciful God.
I don't know. I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.
I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to feel, and I certainly don't know how to prepare myself for the closing Mass on June 30th.
Prayer, of course, but I just don't know how to reconcile my frustration, hurt and grief with the faith I have in God and Archbishop Chaput.
I love our Archbishop dearly. I believe he's been put here in Philly for the specific task of pruning us something fierce. He's made incredibly bold decisions that have had a very widespread effect on the entire Church in Philadelphia. He closed our school last year, and now our church was sentenced to the cross this weekend.
So together we much embrace this sacrifice like Christ, I guess. We must acknowledge the task of walking in His Ways, even unto Calvary.
And just as together with Christ we die, together with Christ we shall rise again. This is my hope; this is my prayer.
But prayers, dear bloggers. Prayers for us in Philadelphia. Prayers for the Church as She fights off the growing cancer of apathy, the pursuit of worldly pleasures, and arrogance. May the Spirit of Love alight in Her heart and purify Her of such malignancy.
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