I will go unto the Altar of God
To God who gives joy to my youth!
Today I would like to continue our catechesis on the Church Building: Beauty, Transcendence and the Eternal. As you know we will soon be beginning our capital campaign for the much needed maintenance and enhancement of our Church building, Lower Hall and grounds. To that end I have been writing extensively during the last five months on many of the enhancements to our Church. I am very grateful for your overwhelming support in this great endeavor – more than for which I could have ever hoped. It is my hope to edit my essays on church architecture and to present them as a catechesis in pamphlet form.
I have written about the centrality of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Church. I have written about the nave as the place where we are joined by the great communion of saints. I have written about precincts within the Church as places of encounter with the Divine. I have written about the rails which delineate our place of meeting with the Lord. I have written about the baptismal space as sacred entrance into the Church and I have written about the opening and closing of space as symbols of our encounter with the eternal and the importance of the door in Christian tradition and theology. Within the Church building itself we make pilgrimage, always as a people who are called to the Eternal Life of Heaven.
Today I shall write about the place of entrance into the eternal and the place of music ministry. I shall write about the Narthex and the place of the music ministry.
In Church architecture the use of a square (in Italian piazza, in Spanish plaza) in front of the Church calls the faithful to the warm embrace of God’s love. The square extends the love and grace of Christ into the world itself. Our parish church has a little square that calls the faithful to enter the Church. In a sense the exterior square in front of the Church extends the Church into the world. It is the first encounter with the Divine. The door opens into a grand space symbolic of eternity. We call the entrance area of a church the narthex. It is not really a lobby or vestibule although these secular terms suitable for theaters are sometimes employed. The narthex is the place where the people of God may gather for many reasons. To greet one another before and after Holy Mass. It serves as a place in which we gather with our deceased loved ones as we make the final entrance into the church. It is the place where we congratulate a young bride and groom newly united by Christ in Holy Matrimony. It is the place where the People of God, having been nourished with the Blessed Eucharist, can speak with one another. The narthex area should be a little larger than our present narthex and it should have immediately a distinctive vessel for the faithful to take Holy Water as they enter into the Church. It is our hope to allow more light to enter the narthex and allow it to become transparent with the radiance of Christ. The large window in front of the Church shines forth into the world showing Christ in glory entering into the world. It will also allow this beautiful window to be seen more prominently by those inside the Church itself as Christ stands among us now and forever.
At the time of the Reformation whose 500th anniversary will be observed next year, Christendom was shattered and a completely foreign vision took hold of the Church and society. This was even expressed in Church architecture. As the reformers denied the efficacy of the Sacrifice of Holy Mass, they emphasized preaching as the primary presence of Christ rather than the Most Blessed Sacrament. The architecture followed this erroneous philosophy by making the churches more like theatres, sometimes even with the so-called stadium seating. We see this among the wealthy televangelist who have taken the weakness of human nature, always seeking entertainment, and given it a religious veneer.
Church music however was never orchestral or stimulating. The purpose of church music is to calm the soul and enable us to be in peace with Christ. Therefore to make the choir visible was foreign to the Catholic tradition and, particularly in America, there arose the tradition of the choir loft. The choir was not entertainment. Although our church has no choir loft, we will relocate the organ and music ministry to the north transept. There the music will support the singing of the faithful, be accessible to all, but not central. As we know, at present the music ministry is symmetrical to the Tabernacle, something rather unique and quite particular.
…. To Be Continued
THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION: This year the Solemnity of the Assumption falls on a Monday (August 15th) and therefore the obligation to attend Holy Mass is dispensed this year. Nonetheless, it is my fond hope that many of our people will come to Holy Mass that day to honor Our Lady on her principal Feast. The one Mass that day will be at 8.00AM in the Chapel. I would encourage all of you to fast and pray from August 1st until the 15th. This is a very ancient tradition and is often referred to as Our Lady’s Lent.
PARISH GALA DINNER/DANCE AND CASINO NIGHT: Please save the date of Friday October 28th. That will be our annual Parish Gala Dinner/Dance and Casino Night. Once again we will have the casino night provided by the M&M Twins (my good friends, Marco and Michael Posillico). This proved to be so enjoyable last year and was a great success. May I ask and invite all parishioners to attend this wonderful evening at the newly refurbished Cottage of the Milleridge Inn. Mr. Butch Yamali, the new owner of the Milleridge Inn, recently invited me to go there to bless this new endeavor. I was accompanied by the Chair of the Gala Mrs. Paula Maturo and by committee member Mrs. Anne Maione. I entered every room of the Inn to bless it and sprinkle the Holy Water, all the shops, and the cottage and carriage house. It is remarkable how this historic inn is being restored to its original splendor. Mr. Yamali is a good friend to us at St. Paul’s and I would encourage everyone to come that night and to see the refurbished Inn. It is our major fundraiser through the course of the year. You may have noticed that this year I have completed 35 years as a priest. I am very honored that on that evening we will also celebrate these years of priesthood. We do not honor the priest individually, for every priest’s prayer is that of St. John the Baptist, he must increase, but I must decrease. But rather we give thanks to God for the gift of the priesthood which is love at the heart of the Church. I am most grateful to Mrs. Paula Maturo and her committee for all they have done for the success of this wonderful evening.
FATHER WALTER KEDJIERSKI: As many of you know, the Marianist Fathers who have provided weekend assistance at St. Paul’s for over 17 years are no longer able to come to assist at Sunday Masses. Because of ill health and their own needs, their last Sunday here was February 14, 2016. Since then I have been actively looking for a priest who may assist us. Naturally, priests who help in parishes on Sundays are usually in non-parish ministry. The parish priests must be in their own parishes on Sundays. We are fortunate that Father Walter Kedjierski, the Vice-Rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, will assist us from time to time on Sundays. (It will not be weekly but will be several times a month). Father Kedjierski is the Vice Rector of the Seminary and the Director of the Office of Diaconal Formation. He has been a professor at St. John’s University in Jamaica. In spite of his very impressive academic background Father Kedjierski has been a parish priest. He has served as parochial vicar (assistant pastor) at St. Catherine of Sienna (they spell it with two n’s whereas the city in Italy is spelt Siena, with one n.) in Franklin Square and Our Lady of Victory in Floral Park. He was pastor of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Center Moriches until June 29, 2016, at which time he was appointed Vice Rector of the Seminary. We welcome Father Kedjierski in the charity of Christ and I am grateful for his priestly assistance. I am sure we will all come to appreciate Father’s presence among us. Father will not be with us for the month of August. He is going to England to defend and receive his doctorate from Oxford University. Father is too humble to speak of this. We assure him of our best wishes and congratulations and prayers for his successful doctoral defense. The doctorate from the University of Oxford is such a prestigious degree that the initials Ph.D. are not used but rather initials proper to the University itself, D. Onon. (the abbreviation for the Latin Doctor Ononensis).We congratulate Father Walter and pray he will be with us for many years.
OUR POLICE: Because of bulletin deadlines I am writing this article on Sunday afternoon, July 17th. While we were all at Mass this morning, yet three more police officers were killed in cold blood, this time in Baton Rouge. Just when I had asked that the flag of our beloved nation be raised to full mast after today (one week for the Dallas shootings and three days for the Nice terrorist attack) we must postpone that and once again fly the Stars and Stripes at half-mast. We pray at every Sunday Mass here at St. Paul’s for all who serve and protect us in the police department…Let us continue our prayers and whenever we see the police greet and thank them. I am particularly grateful to the Old Brookville police who are untiring in their devotion to St. Paul’s which, as many of you know, has become a place where vandalism and crime of every kind, are not unknown. May God reward their goodness to us.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda