Last night I walked into the parish church that I knew so well; the place that had given me friends and memories through the years of middle school and high school, the place my brother and sister had each entered into the sacrament of matrimony, the place that had seen the blossoming of my sister’s religious vocation. There I had spent early mornings at Mass, late nights at youth group, joyful Christmases and New Years, somber Good Fridays, beautiful Holy Thursdays.
I walked in and immediately noticed a change. I think I felt it before I saw it, felt it as if something had been unfinished all these years without us really knowing just how incomplete. Everything felt … right. Comforting, warm, centered.
Centered. I’m not sure how else to describe the feeling that hit me right in my core. It was more than just the warmth of a comfort found when you return home to a place that is rich with so many memories. No, it was deeper. It was the feeling that the place had changed.
Everyone knows how I feel about change. I generally dislike it, even if I know with my intellect that the change will be for the better.
But this was different.
All of these things came to me in a split second, and as I genuflected, I remembered the news Mom had told me several weeks earlier.
The tabernacle was in the middle of the church, just under the crucifix. An altar had been built and now He was there, surrounded by candles and flowers.
It was so natural, so perfect, as if He hadn’t been on a side altar since before I was born. As I knelt there in Adoration, all was well with the world.
I had never realized how strange it really was, to have Him over on the side of the church. St. Boniface is the most beautiful Catholic church in the city, with its aesthetic yet simple stained glass windows and its soaring gothic arches. And all that beauty cried out for Him to be in the middle, even the gothic architecture pointing to the center. Your eyes would naturally go to the center while praying, and would rest on an empty place under the crucifix. So you would turn your gaze over to the left, only to soon be distracted by someone in your line of vision.
The two churches I most frequently attend in Nashville both have their tabernacles in the middle, and to return home to find my parish church transformed in such a way was a change that was anything but jarring or unsettling. It was profoundly satisfying.
As I prayed last night and this morning, I was stunned by how natural it seemed. Politics and liturgy experts aside, this was just fitting. And perfect.
Nothing had been wrong before; but now everything was right.
Happy Feast of Corpus Christi indeed.