Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Communion Rail Destroyed at St. Thomas More Parish (Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis)

Ugh.  Sobering to see this stuff is still happening.   

Here we have a parish that was handed over to the Jesuits by the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis in the hopes the parish would revive.  Not sure how successful that has been.  It would be interesting to see the parish books.     

The name of the parish was changed from the church of St. Luke to St. Thomas More Catholic Community, a peace offering by the Archdiocese, in the hopes of appeasement during a touchy parish merger.

How many times have we witnessed this kind of waste?

An aesthetically becoming and original historical period piece, torn out of a Catholic church and marked for the dumpster.  Or maybe a scavenger will sell it to an antique shop.

Part of the problem is that we have allowed the aesthetic aspect of the liturgy to be assessed by those outside the church.  It's a throw away culture surrounding us.  Wal-Mart and Ikea and Sam's Club.   

Vatican II of course says nothing about communion rails or taking them out.  What it does say is that sacred art is to be "worthy, decorous and beautiful" (SC, vere dignae, decorae ac pulchrae).

Obviously, this work of art seems to fit the bill as sacred art, according to the criteria of the Council.      

Liturgy distinguishes itself in this, that it safeguards the integration of beauty with truth, of goodness and holiness, but at the same time it recognizes the rules proper to art and its interdependence. 

The blessing of a church, and even more so the blessing of an altar, teems with references to the Old Testament, and in these blessings statements are enunciated concerning the nature of architecture and art.  The continuance of these things is held in common by Judaism and Christianity.

The liturgy brings art to its loftiest essential possibility.  In the arduous work of getting ready for the task of decorating a new church, the artist has the supreme Artificer, God himself, as his exemplar.  He creates for eternity. 

In the Postcommunion of the Mass for the Dedication of a Church, God is represented as preparing a home for His majesty through all eternity.  Art by its very nature is a radiation.  Leave it alone.  Descending into this chapel actually reminds me of the worthy dwelling place in the womb of Mary. 

Bewildered people ask: "Will the destruction end?  Who to blame?"  The dilettante pastor?  Or parish council?  Or an ex-nun?  Decadence of the liturgical spirit among our leadership can be understood in the sixties, but today??

Just imagine the sheer volume of art that has ended up in dumpsters, all in the name of modernity.

Art is the possession of a parochial community.  This includes tomorrow's parishioners, who may have a greater degree of appreciation for the original structure and design of the church or ethos of the liturgy.

The liturgy is a community act, distinguished by degree and order.  And art.  When art like this is destroyed, it creates a stylistic incongruity with the genius of the original design plan.

The peoples of Western culture possess an art heritage nurtured by Christianity.  This is not a witness to a vanished past, but is rather a living power that motivates and teaches the present. 

Regrettably, this was probably done in the name of Vatican II.  Vatican II speaks of renewal (SC), but also of conservation.  We are the responsible successors of interpreting the Council.  In the very interests of renewal itself, we have a duty of preserving what has gone before us.

I would offer this chapel for persecuted Christians from Iraq and Syria in the Twin Cities to have as their worship space.   The Lexington Ave. exit off the Interstate 94 makes it an ideal central location.  Some of them live in the Midway, University-Lexington area.           


  1. Incredible. I've been told that back the in glory days, this church was often so full on Sundays that two priests would have to simultaneously offer Mass in both the upper church and the lower chapel (shown in the pictures). Long gone are those days.

  2. It was stupid the name was changed from St. Luke's (FYI: that was a Flynn thing).

  3. Jesuit? Shameful, but not surprising.